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All’s well that ends well for Team Canada

Seven gold medals in last four days helps set Olympic record

The Canadian Olympic Committee warned Canadians not to panic and that medals would be coming, and they were right. In the last four days of the 2010 Games Canadians earned seven gold medals, on the way to setting a new Winter Games record of 14 gold medals. The total number of medals won by Canadians also increased to 26, two more than the previous record of 24 set at the 2006 Winter Games.



Canada has not won a medal in alpine skiing since 1994, but it wasn't for a lack of trying. There were some near misses in the speed events over the first week of the Games. In the final week the technical events took place, where Canada had fewer medal hopefuls. The women's technical team is rebuilding and prior to the Games the athletes were more focused on getting results in the top 30 and top 15 than on Olympic gold medals.

On the men's technical team, both Francois Bourque and Jean-Philippe Roy were injured, which meant that Whistler's Mike Janyk was the only Canadian competing who had won a World Cup or World Championship medal.

In the men's giant slalom, Erik Guay was the fastest Canadian, finishing 16 th . He moved up from 29 th after his first run with the second-fastest run of the afternoon.

It was similar to the men's slalom where Julien Cousineau moved up from 19 th in his first run to eighth place with the second fastest run of the afternoon.

Mike Janyk was 11 th after his first run and ended his day in 13 th place after making a mistake that cost him some momentum on the lower part of the course.

The giant slalom podium went to Carlo Janka of Switzerland, followed by Kjetil Janrus and Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway. The slalom was won by Guiliano Razzoli of Italy, followed by Ivica Kostelic of Croatia and Andre Myhrer of Sweden.

It's interesting to note that the Austrian men's team failed to win a single medal during the 2010 Games, although they placed fourth, fifth and sixth in the GS and fourth and fifth in the slalom.



The final event in the snowboarding program was the parallel slalom. It was Jasey-Jay Anderson's last chance to win an Olympic medal after participating in four Games. He managed to pull off a gold despite the fact that he started in a deep hole of more than seven-tenths of a second after the first of two runs in the finals. Teammates Matthew Morison and Adam Lambert were 11 th and 12 th respectively.

Benjamin Karl of Austria took the silver medal and Matthieu Bozzetto of France the bronze.

Anderson's gold was Canada Snowboard's third of the Games, behind Mike Roberton (silver) and Maëlle Ricker (gold).

The women's team struggled. The top racer was Alexa Loo in 12 th place

Nicolien Sauerbreij of France took the gold, followed by Ekaterina Ilyukhina of Russia and Marion Kreiner of Austria.



Canada's prospects in aerials looked good after the first round, with Kyle Nissen in the top spot. But after a few small mistakes in his second jump he was bumped back to fifth. Alexei Grishin of Belarus placed first, followed by Jeret Peterson of the U.S. and Liu Zhongqing of China. Steve Omischl and Warren Shouldice were eighth and 10 th respectively.

Lydia Lassila of Australia took the gold medal on the women's side, followed by Nina Li and Xinxin Guo of China. No Canadians qualified for the women's final.



Canada finished the 2010 Games without a medal after winning one medal in 2002 and two in 2006. For effort, however, you have to give the team some credit - especially Devon Kershaw, who hung in with the leaders in the men's 50 km classic race, and ended up fifth by just 1.6 seconds.

"It stings," he told reporters. "I'm proud of the team and what we did, George Grey was right there with me... But I was 1.6 seconds from being Olympic champion. After racing, what, two hours-plus, and being 1.6 seconds out, it stings."

Petter Northug of Norway double-poled his way to the finish line in first place, followed by Axel Teichmann of Germany. Johan Olsson of Sweden won bronze, while Tobias Angerer of Germany edged Kershaw for fourth in a photo finish.

Kershaw's rhythm in the final sprint to the finish was thrown off when he had to dodge Italy's Dario Cologna. Kershaw side-stepped around the fallen athlete, but ended up behind Angerer and out of reach of the lead pack.

Northhug finished the Games with two gold medals, a silver and a bronze, boosting Norway's medal haul to 23. On the women's side, teammate Marit Bjoergen earned five medals, the most of any athlete during the Games - gold in the 4x5 km relay, gold in the sprint, gold in the 15 km pursuit, silver in the mass start classic and bronze in the 10 km free.

Three medals from alpine skier Aksel Lund Svindal and two from biathlete Ole Einar Bjoerndalen accounted for 14 of Norway's 23 medals.

The ladies' 30 km classic race went to Justyna Kowaczyk of Poland, with Marit Bjoergen a step back in second. Aino-Kaisa Saarinen of Finland was third. The top Canadian was Sara Renner, 16 th .



The biathlon wrapped up with the men's and women's relay events.

In the men's 4x7.5 km relay the Norwegian team of Halvard Hanevold, Hegle Emil Svendsen, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen and Tarjei Boe placed first. They were followed by teams from Austria and Russia.

The Canadian team - Robin Clegg, Marc-Andre Bedard, Brendan Green and Jean Philippe LeGuellec - placed a solid 10 th out of 19 teams.

The women's 4x6 km relay took place Feb. 23. The Russian team of Svetlana Sleptsova, Anna Bogaliy-Titovets, Olga Medvedtseva and Olga Zaitseva placed first, with teams from France and Germany finishing a close second and third. Canada was 15 th out of 19 teams.


Nordic Combined

The second event in the Nordic Combined schedule was the Long Hill/10 km event, and heralded the unlikely rise of the U.S. to the top of a sport that has been traditionally dominated by Europeans. Athletes Bill Demong and Johnny Spillane finished first and second, followed by Bernhard Gruber of Austria.

Jason Myslicki was the only Canadian in the competition, placing 44 th out of 46 competitors.



Canadian women netted a rare double podium in women's bobsleigh on Feb. 24, with the tandem of Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse setting three track records en route to the gold medal. The team of Helen Upperton and Shelley-Ann Brown jumped from fourth to second with one of the top runs in the fourth round of racing. A U.S. team was third.

That set the stage for the four-man competition. Despite leading after two runs the Canada 2 team of Lyndon Rush, Chris Li Bihan, David Bissett and Lascelles Brown could not hold on and in the end settled for third place behind the Night Train - the U.S.A. 1 sled and the top German team.


Speed Skating

Despite a rocky start and some disappointing finishes, the Canadian speed skating team finished the Games with nine medals in both long and short track events.

On Feb. 24, Canada finished second in the women's 3,000 metre short track relay, sandwiched between teams from China and the U.S. The team included Jessica Gregg, Kalyna Roberge, Marianne St-Gelais and Tania Vicent.

On Feb. 26 Charles Hamelin and Francois-Louis Tremblay placed first and third in the men's 500 metre short track event. The race was punctuated by a crash in the final corner that resulted in the disqualification of American skater Apolo Anton Ohno. Korean skater Si-Bak Sung was second.

A few hours later Hamelin was back on ice for the men's 5,000 metre relay finals, an event that Canada won. The team included Charles Hamelin, his brother Francois Hamelin, Jean Oliver and Francois-Louis Tremblay. Teams from South Korea and the U.S. were second and third.

In long track, Canada started off its final few days of the games with a bronze medal in the ladies' 5,000 metre by flag bearer Clara Hughes - making history as the only female athlete to win medals in four Olympic Games, including the only Canadian to win medals in both Summer and Winter Games.

The final event was the team pursuit race. On the men's side, Canada placed first as the team of Mathieux Giroux, Lucas Makowsky and Denny Morrison upset the U.S. squad of Brian Hansen, Chad Hedrick and Jonathan Kuck after trailing for most of the race. The Netherlands placed third.

Canada finished out of the medals in the ladies' team pursuit, finishing fifth. The top three spots went to Germany, Japan and Poland.



The Canadian women led by Cheryl Benard went from a 6-4 lead to a 7-6 loss in the final ends of the women's curling competition, earning the silver medal behind Sweden. China beat Switzerland to place third.

The men's team led by Kevin Martin won gold, beating Norway 6-3 in the finals. Switzerland beat Sweden to take the bronze.



Considering 22 million Canadians tuned in for the men's gold medal game, I doubt we need to go into too much detail. The Canadian women beat the U.S. 2-0 to take their third consecutive Olympic title, while the Canadian men beat the U.S. 3-2 in overtime - courtesy Sidney Crosby - to take the team's second title since 2002. It's also Canada's second title since