Over the last two weeks, I’ve refrained from discussing the winter games very much, if at all. But that’s not to say I didn’t observe. Just how well did Canada’s Own The Podium go over? Not too bad, actually.
At the end of everything, Canada’s Olympic team did not capture top spot in medals, that honour went to the United States, as the Americans took home 37 medals. An Olympic record. Vancouver 2010 was an event that saw a number of records fall. But not in races so much. Granted, the Canadian Women’s hockey team set an Olympic record by scoring 18 goals against Slovakia. But this year’s Olympics saw the host nation top the gold medal standings. Canada set a record for number of gold medals, both overall and by the host nation with 14. Sunday’s gold medal hockey game win by Team Canada was the jewel set into a crowning achievement.
Looking back on it all, there was disappointment to begin with. Athletes were not fairing as we had hoped they would. Sure, a couple picked up silver and bronze, but that elusive gold wasn’t coming. It did start to trickle in, and there was an excitement that surrounding the games. The talk was how much better this was than Turino. I checked the medal counts, and at the time I did, Canada only had 17 medals. In Turino, Canada captured 24. My reaction; hold on, we did better in Turino. But the number of gold medals was a key factor in these games. Never before has Canada picked up that many gold medals. Never before has the Canadian National Anthem been heard that many times at an event like the Winter Games.
The final achievement came when Sidney Crosby scored on American goalie Ryan Miller in overtime, allowing the Canadian men to capture the gold medal in a hard fought game that many are saying will be remembered with the likes of events such as the ’72 Summit Series and 1987 when Mario Lemieux scored to lift Canada past the Russians. This gold was even sweeter than the gold medal in Salt Lake City in 2002. At that tme, Canada was cruising to a 5 to 2 victory over the Americans. This game was so much closer.
Sidney Crosby has solidified himself in the hearts and minds of Canadian hockey fans, and at such a young age as well. He can now join the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Lemieux and Paul Henderson in the greatest moments in hockey for Canada.
The question now is, had Canada not won the gold medal in hockey, would the games had been just as successful? It would have, yes, but Canada would have tied the record for number of gold medals at 13. This win put them on top of the world. Canada did Own The Podium at this event, that is no question.
Canadian athletes came from all across this nation. From Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, to Alma, Quebec, to London, Ontario, to Russell, Manitoba, to Carlyle, Saskatchewan, to Edmonton, Alberta, and to Whistler, British Columbia. Canada had already picked up a few medals early in the games, but the party started when Jon Montgomery picked up the gold medal in Men’s Skeleton. His now famous walk through the streets of Whistler, where each and every Canadian wanted to share in that pitcher of beer.
With Vancouver’s celebrations coming to a close, there is no time to become complacent. Canada now has to look to Sochi, Russia in 2014. Can they Own The Podium and improve on what they did in Vancouver?