It must be said right away that for those who made the effort and spent time in Vancouver, BC Canada during the XXI Winter Olympics Games you will never forget it and you will look back fondly at that once in a lifetime experience. When Canada was on the world stage and under scrutiny from the world media we came through with flying colours. The Vancouver Olympics may have opened with an uneasy and somber tone, but once the games had begun, the party and celebration in Vancouver never really stopped.

The level of comradery and unabashed patriotism for this country and the athletes that represented us was unbelievable. A city that wasn't sure what to expect at the onset of these Olympic Games, and maybe even showed some indifference and apprehension towards the Games, sure got on board with support for everyone involved. We all by now have heard about the “O Canada” national anthems that were spontaneously sung in the streets, at venues, on the trains or busses and in the pubs. It was the spectators and fans that carried these Games, supporting not only our own athletes but also all those who participated.

At the end of each major medal win or hockey game crowds poured out into the streets to celebrate with high-fives, hugging and back slapping –all among complete strangers. That kind of friendly open celebration will be one of the highlights for most people who were a part of it. People from all parts of the world became part of the Canadian culture during these games it seemed, with Americans, Aussies, British and more cheering on the home team along with their own teams. Canadians, for their part, cheered their lungs out for their athletes, but when Canadians were not part of the event they cheered on whomever else was performing with enthusiasm. My favourite example of this was at the Switzerland vs Belarus men’s ice hockey game and the chants of "Go Swiss!" would alternate back and forth with "Bel A Rous!" across the arena even though there was only a small contingent of fans for each of those countries. Despite fears that this laid-back country couldn't possibly follow Beijing’s spectacular 2008 Olympics, Canada managed to stage a solid and successful Games that showcased its stunning host city, its fantastic athletes, its strong national pride and the ability to have one heck of a party.

As the reality of regular life comes back and the Olympics and the spectacular sporting display and scenes of nationwide unity moves further and further into the past, I realize that this event will have a lasting legacy in this country and especially out on the West Coast. As the Olympics started, tragedy had struck the games with the untimely death of Nodar Kumaritashvili from Georgia on the day of the opening ceremony at the luge track in Whistler. Going into the opening ceremonies the luge event was in doubt of even going ahead and there was a very somber atmosphere. Then the mechanical failure of the Olympic cauldron arm not going up as the world watched brought all the Negative Nancies who had protested the games out in force to say the whole event would be a failure. As a small group of rioters smashed windows in protest on the first real day of sport for the games, it was hard not to feel embarrassed for Canada and to wonder what might happen next.

The world media immediately chimed in to point out the problems that had occurred, with the BBC on day 2 posing the question: "will this be the worst Winter Olympics ever?" Well that was day 2.  Now, over two weeks later, as the cheers echoed from Victoria BC to St. John's Newfoundland, after Canada's dramatic gold-medal win Sunday afternoon over the U.S. in men's hockey, it now seems ridiculous to look back at those negative first steps and think the games could have failed. Even when Canada was winning very little the first week of the Games, a contagious energy and pride was already present in Vancouver and Whistler with bars and restaurants packed from opening to close regardless of what sport was on TV.

People from Vancouver and Canadians in general united together to throw one monster party with some of the best displays of sport in history. Ironically, the BBC reporter who had been first to pose his negative questions and point fingers has changed his tune. He now has asked the question of "was this the best Winter Olympics ever?" My answer is YES, although it is pretty apparent that I am slightly biased. The Beijing Olympics were widely considered to be a great success by international television audiences, however those who experienced the games in person complained about the lack of atmosphere. Not so in Vancouver, as IOC president Jacques Rogge said, the people of Vancouver had "embraced the Olympic Games like no other city in the world before".

It was often said, prior to the start of the Games, that Canada’s lasting impression of these Olympics would be shaped largely by the success or failure of the men’s ice hockey team. That kind of arrogant and short sighted view seemed to fade into the background as the athletes from all countries started competition and wowed us with their performances. As medals started to be won for Canada many of them came in events such as skeleton and ice dancing, sports that Europeans long have dominated. The Americans successfully dominated the Alpine events as well which showed how important the Winter Olympics have become to North America.

One of the best things about these Olympics was that unlike many recent Games, Vancouver's included very little talk of performance-enhancing substances. Only two athletes, hockey players from Russia and Slovakia, were tainted, and their cases involved minor infractions. There had been seven violations each at the previous two Winter Games in Salt Lake City and Turin. Although testing for new substances that are undetectable will not finish until 2018 it was great to let athletic performances do the talking rather than cheats.

It’s one thing for someone as excited as I continue to be days after the Games have finished to proclaim how great they are, it’s another thing entirely when the numbers prove their immense popularity. The 2010 Winter Olympics delivered the five most-watched television events in Canadian history, topped by the 16.6 million Canadians who saw the entire Canada-U. S. men's gold medal hockey game. About 26.5 million Canadians watched at least part of that game and 22 million viewers, two-thirds of the Canadian population, were watching when Sidney Crosby scored in overtime to capture Canada's 14th gold medal of the Games. CTV-Rogers said 30.5 million Canadians, 91 per cent of the population, watched at least some part of the consortium's Games coverage on the final day of the Olympics. NBC reported that 27.6 million people watched the final hockey game, the most people to watch a hockey game in 30 years and more people than the same final at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

With so much pressure from the host nation on the men’s ice hockey team it was a big relief and moment of pure joy for people of this country when Sidney Crosby scored in over time. That goal, now known as the Golden Goal, secured a record setting 14th Gold Medal for Canada and unleashed celebrations by nearly every citizen of this country on Sunday February 28th 2010.  Even with all the amazing accomplishments by all our athletes in these Games, that goal meant so much that it will be recalled as a “where were you when…” kind of event. The Winter Olympic Games staged in Vancouver are now officially over and officially a massive success. There were so many great performances by athletes from around this globe that will live on for a long time. A big thanks and mention to the army of volunteers that made this event possible is in order and finally to the Canadians and other spectators from around the world. There will be memories and moments that everyone will remember of these games that will hopefully live on forever.

Olympic Rings at Canada Place
Olympic Rings at night overlooking Canada Place
Canada vs Slovakia Semi Final
Canada vs Slovakia Semi Final
Short Track Relay gold medal celebration
Short Track Relay gold medal celebration
Short Track Relay skaters
Short Track Relay skaters
Olympic Rings
Olympic Rings
Olympic Rings
Olympic Rings
Olympic Rings
Olympic Rings
Olympic Rings
Olympic Rings
Burrard St Bridge and Granville Harbour
Burrard St Bridge and Granville Harbour
False Creek
False Creek
Downtown Vancouver and Mountains
Downtown Vancouver and Mountains
English Bay from Kits Beach
English Bay from Kits Beach
Canada vs USA Gold Medal Final
Canada vs USA Gold Medal Final
Womens 1000m Short Track Final
Womens 1000m Short Track Final
Mens 5000m Short Track Relay Final
Mens 5000m Short Track Relay Final
Slovakia vs Norway Playoff
Slovakia vs Norway Playoff
Roberto Luongo
Roberto Luongo
Mens Freestyle Aerials Final
Mens Freestyle Aerials Final
Cypress Mountain Venue
Cypress Mountain Venue
Olympic Sports Banners
Olympic Sports Banners
Olympic Flame
Olympic Flame
Olympic Flame from Stanley Park
Olympic Flame from Stanley Park
Olympic Flame
Olympic Flame
Olympic Flame
Olympic Flame
Athletes Village and Science World
Athletes Village and Science World
Top of Whistler Mountain Backflip
Top of Whistler Mountain Backflip
Granville Island Backflip
Granville Island Backflip
Olympic Rings and North Shore Vancouver
Olympic Rings and North Shore Vancouver
Gold Medal Ceremony for Mens Ice Hockey
Gold Medal Ceremony for Mens Ice Hockey
Mens 5000m Short Track Relay Final
Mens 5000m Short Track Relay Final
5000m Relay Gold Medal Victory Lap
5000m Relay Gold Medal Victory Lap
Sidney Crosby in action
Sidney Crosby in action
Gold Medal Ceremony for Mens Ice Hockey
Gold Medal Ceremony for Mens Ice Hockey
Gold Medal Ceremony for Mens 500m Short Track
Gold Medal Ceremony for Mens 500m Short Track
Gold Medal Ceremony for Mens 5000m Short Track Relay
Gold Medal Ceremony for Mens 5000m Short Track Relay
Flags at Cypress Mountain
Flags at Cypress Mountain
Mens 500m Short Track Heats
Mens 500m Short Track Heats
Canadian Fans
Canadian Fans
Slovakia Fans
Slovakia Fans
Russia vs Latvia puck drop
Russia vs Latvia puck drop
Hardcore Canadian Supporter
Hardcore Canadian Supporter
Mens Freestyle Aerials Final
Mens Freestyle Aerials Final
Cypress Mountain
Cypress Mountain
Olympic Sports Banners
Olympic Sports Banners
Slovakia vs Norway Playoff
Slovakia vs Norway Playoff
Switzerland vs Belarus Playoff
Switzerland vs Belarus Playoff
Switzerland vs Belarus Shootout
Switzerland vs Belarus Shootout
Alexander Ovechkin
Alexander Ovechkin
Charles Hamelin Victory Celebration
Charles Hamelin Victory Celebration
Charles Hamelin Gold Medal
Charles Hamelin Gold Medal
Short Track Speedskating Venue
Short Track Speedskating Venue
Switzerland vs Belarus Playoff
Switzerland vs Belarus Playoff
Our Olympic ticket stack
Our Olympic ticket stack
German House Beer Tent
German House Beer Tent
Switzerland vs Belarus Playoff
Switzerland vs Belarus Playoff
Canada Hockey Place Banner
Canada Hockey Place Banner
Vancouver 2010 Olympic Logo
Vancouver 2010 Olympic Logo
Saxony House
Saxony House
False Creek at night
False Creek at night
Switzerland House
Switzerland House
Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Ceremony
Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Ceremony
False Creek with Science World in the background and the Athletes Village in foreground
False Creek with Science World in the background and the Athletes Village in foreground
Sidney Crosby warm up shot sequence
Sidney Crosby warm up shot sequence
Olympic Rings with Canada Place in Background
Olympic Rings with Canada Place in Background
Canada Hockey Place overlooking False Creek and the Athletes Village
Canada Hockey Place overlooking False Creek and the Athletes Village
Inside Canada Hockey Place for the Switzerland vs Belarus playoff game
Inside Canada Hockey Place for the Switzerland vs Belarus playoff game
False Creek
False Creek
Inside of Pacific Coliseum for the Short Track Speed Skating Relay Final
Inside of Pacific Coliseum for the Short Track Speed Skating Relay Final
Granville Island Harbour
Granville Island Harbour
Rainy North Shore Vancouver
Rainy North Shore Vancouver
Granville Island Harbour
Granville Island Harbour
Rainy North Shore Vancouver
Rainy North Shore Vancouver
Olympic Rings and ocean
Olympic Rings and ocean

CANADA 3 – 2 USA in Overtime

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Matt Curtis

On February 28 2010, when Sidney Crosby scored 7 minutes and 40 seconds into overtime in the gold medal game to win the men’s ice hockey gold medal, a nation erupted in celebration and that moment will go down in Canadian and Olympic history. That goal gave Canada a record 14 gold medals in the XXI Winter Olympics Games. The previous record for gold medals was 13 set by Norway in 2002 and the Soviet Union in 1976. It was an unbelievably tense game against the mighty sporting nation of the USA and it will always be remembered for Canadians, and anyone else who watched it in Vancouver Canada, as a “where were you when?” moment.

In the overtime period, the Canadians were cycling around the left boards when Crosby pushed the puck down to the low left boards for Jarome Iginla. Iginla fed the puck back to Crosby as he was being checked to the ice, Crosby went hard to the net and threw a quick shot on target that beat the tournament MVP Ryan Miller five hole for the 3-2 win.

"It doesn't even feel real; it feels like a dream." Crosby said afterwards before accepting his gold medal.

Jonathon Toews, named forward of the tournament, and Corey Perry scored a goal each in regulation for Canada, which took home its 8th gold medal in Olympic hockey and the first since the 2002 games in Salt Lake City. Roberto Luongo, who took over from Martin Brodeur after he was lit up by Americans the previous Sunday, stopped 34 shots for Canada. Zach Parise and Ryan Kesler each had a goal for the Americans and Ryan Miller stopped 36 shots for the USA in the loss, but was superb for the USA throughout the tournament.

The USA had a good forecheck going on early in the game but could not generate any decent opportunities as the Canadians blocked the majority of their shots. With 7:10 left in the first period Canada took the lead: a turnover deep in the American zone saw the puck come out to the right circle where Mike Richards threw a turnaround shot on net. Miller made the stop but the rebound kicked out straight to Toews who wristed it home. Scoring first was a huge boost to the team and they continued to generate chances, Luongo made 8 saves in the opening period to keep the Americans off the board and the Canadians went into the first intermission with the lead.

After each squad had a power play opportunity in the 2nd period, the Canadians took a 2-0 lead: Ryan Getzlaf skated down the left side and chucked a back hand pass to the slot where Patrick Marleau was charging hard to the net. The puck deflected off the stick of Ryan Whitney and landed on the stick of Corey Perry who shot the puck past Miller. Jonathon Toews was called for tripping shortly after the goal to give the USA its second power play of the game. The Canadians worked hard on the penalty kill and kept the chances away from Luongo. The Americans did beat Luongo with 7:15 left in the second period. Ryan Kesler charged into the Canadian end through the middle of the ice and sent the puck over to Patrick Kane who's shot was tipped by Kesler past Luongo.

With a one goal lead the Canadians put pressure on the Americans over the first few minutes of the 3rd period but they were unable to take the lead after unluckily hitting the post twice. Miller kept his team within one goal with a spectacular save on Danny Heatley from the left side with about 10:30 left to play in the game. American Brian Rafalski had a chance to tie it up when he wristed a loose puck from the right circle but Roberto Luongo was there to make the save with 5:05 to play. Sidney Crosby looked to have a great breakaway opportunity with about three and half minutes to play but Patrick Kane raced back down the ice to poke the puck away just in time to keep it a one goal game. That play by Kane would prove crucial as the Americans pulled Ryan Miller from his net with about 2 minutes remaining for the extra shooter.

After several shots on net, the Canadians were reeling when Kane threw a shot that deflected off the skate of Jamie Langenbrunner to Luongo. Bobby Lou stopped the deflection but the rebound came out to Zach Parise and he jammed home the puck with an agonizing 24.4 seconds to play in the game. The Americans showed great perseverance in not quitting and it must be said that the Canadians were on the back foot for the last half of the third period; rather than playing to win the game it seemed they were playing more not to lose. As an anxious nation watched it was only a matter of time before the Americans scored and what a deflating goal it was for the Canadians to give up when the big prize was so close.

As the overtime period started, a number of people nationwide must have been thinking that if it goes down to a shoot out it’s anyone’s game. Thankfully, for Canadians anyway, Crosby rose to the challenge and did not let the immense pressure that was on him or the team affect their play. The CTV and Rogers consortium that broadcast the game said that 91% of Canadians watched at least part of that gold medal game on Sunday afternoon.  As the NHL contemplates letting it’s players participate in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi Russia they should take into account how huge the television audience for this tournament was, not only in Canada, but the USA as well. The players, the fans and Olympics want them to be there. There is no bigger stage for ice hockey between nations than the Olympics; let’s hope Canada will be permitted to defend its gold in 2014.

Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game
Winter Olympic Mens Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game