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Vancouver Olympics

Winning gold medal helps Brian McKeever remembers why he keeps racing

Jim Morris, THE CANADIAN PRESS

WHISTLER, B.C. – Brian McKeever will never forget his Olympic disappointment, but the Paralympic gold medal he won Monday helped remind him why he keeps racing.

McKeever’s victory in the 20-kilometre cross-country ski race for the visually impaired gave Canada its first gold medal of the Winter Paralympics. The win came in an event where McKeever had finished second in his two previous Paralympics.

“That meant a lot,” said McKeever, who was almost 42 seconds faster than the second-place finisher. “That was the one we were waiting to win.

“It’s been eight years in the making. That’s the one we really wanted.”

Monday also saw Canada earn gold and bronze in alpine skiing.

Lauren Woolstencroft won the women’s standing slalom, while Karolina Wisniewska was third.

Woolstencroft, of North Vancouver, B.C., had a two-run combined time of 1:51.97 seconds, putting her almost seven seconds ahead of Germany’s Andrea Rothfuss.

Vancouver’s Wisniewska was timed in 1:58.84

Woolstencroft, 28, was born without legs below the knee and no left arm below the elbow. She started skiing at age four and racing at 14.

He qualified for the Canadian Olympic team in January and was poised to become the first winter sport athlete to compete in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

But the Winter Games ended in heartbreak for McKeever after the Canadian coaching staff decided not to start him in his event, the gruelling 50 kilometres.

“It makes it a lot easier,” McKeever said of Monday’s gold. “We are never going to forget what happened but this helps us move on.

“We still have more racing to go and more things to look ahead to.”

McKeever and his brother Robin, who acts as his guide, finished the race in 51 minutes 14.7 seconds. Nikolay Polukhin of Russia was second in 51:55.6 while Vasiki Shaptsiaboi of Belarus was third in 52:22.5.

Hearing the cheers of a hometown crowd made the gold even more special.

“Friends and family are here,” McKeever said. “A home crowd supported us through this whole journey. Right through the Olympics they were behind us and really supporting us.

“It’s a way we can give back for all the support we had.”

Canada was also victorious in wheelchair curling Monday after hammering Japan 13-2.

The victory pushed Canada’s record to 4-0 with a game against Sweden scheduled for later in the day.

So far Canada has won six medals (two gold, three silver, one bronze) at the Paralympics.

Canada’s goal is to finish among the top three countries in gold medals won. The International Paralympic Committee ranks countries on the basis of gold medals.

The McKeever brothers, who are both fighting colds, made a hard race look easy. They took the lead on the second lap of the four-lap race.

“You are never sure if you are going to get it until it’s all over,” said Brian McKeever. “You have to push right through.

“It was hard but we had a good plan. We stuck to the pace we wanted to do. It made the difference today.”

McKeever has become the face of these Paralympics. His race drew a large, vocal crowd and the most media of any event so far at the cross-country venue.

The 30-year-old from Canmore, Alta., understands part of the attention is because of what he didn’t do as much as for what he’s done.

“At least the attention is here at the Paralympics,” he said. “This is what we wanted. We wanted to raise the profile of the Paralympics. We wanted to bridge the gap between the Olympics and the Paralympics.

“I think we are doing that. This is going to help the Paralympics grow and that is going to help this competition get stronger for many years to come.”

McKeever hasn’t given up the dream of racing at both the Olympics and Paralympics in 2014 at Sochi.

“We will be trying,” he said. “I want another shot at the Olympics for sure.

“We are already starting the plans to see how we get there, making sure the training will be right and making sure we can work together for Sochi.”

John Furlong, head of the Vancouver Olympic Games Organizing Committee, called McKeever’s victory perfect.

“It means the laws of natural justice are prevailing and things are unfolding the way they should,” said Furlong, who attended the race.

“Given what happened during the Olympic Games it couldn’t fall to a more worthy person than him to be the first gold medallist for us. It’s the perfect story, really.”

McKeever has Stargaard’s disease, a genetic disease that has reduced his vision to about 10 per cent, all of which is peripheral.

This is the third Paralympics for McKeever. He has won a total of five gold, two silver and a bronze.

Robin McKeever called the win “extremely satisfying.”

“I towed Brian as hard as I could in Salt Lake and we were silver,” he said. “In Turin I was sick for the 20-K and couldn’t guide Brian to my fullest. He missed the gold by about nine seconds.

“Coming in here, I feel we skied really well as a team and I feel really happy about it.”

Brian McKeever finished sixth in his first Paralympic race Saturday, the three-kilometre biathlon pursuit.

The brothers have three races left. The plan is to win least two more gold.

“We are not fully healthy,” said Brian. “Every day we are getting a little stronger.”


Canadian Gold Medalist(s) #14

By Eric Duhatschek, The Globe and Mail

He waited until the final moment – with Canada teetering on the brink of a national panic attack – before Sidney Crosby put his mark on this game, this gold medal, this emerging legacy.

Timing as they say is everything.

In a game for the ages, it was Crosby – the leader of Canada’s Generation Next – who scored the golden goal 7:40 into overtime, leading Canada’s men’s Olympic hockey team to a thrill-a-minute 3-2 victory over their arch rivals from the United States.

Crosby, who was 14 and watching Canada’s 2002 Olympic championships on television, played give-and-go with one of the key players on that team, Jarome Iginla, to score the winning goal and salvage a game that was hanging in the balance.

On the play, Crosby gave the puck to Iginla deep in the U.S. zone and then drove hard to the net. Iginla – with U.S. defenceman Ryan Suter draped across his back – heard Crosby call out ‘Iggy’ and passed it back. Crosby shot the puck without looking. Magically, it found its way between the pads of goaltender Ryan Miller, ending the tense drama and sending the capacity crowd at Canada Hockey Place into paroxysms of joy.

Afterwards, Crosby said he didn’t even see the puck enter the net. He only knew it was in when he heard the crowd roar.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Crosby. “To have a chance to score in overtime, here in Canada, it doesn’t get much better than that.”

Crosby had had a relatively quiet tournament by his standards, fitting in nicely as a piece of the puzzle on a team that relied on balanced scoring, mostly from its emerging young nucleus. It was fitting therefore that Crosby saved the best for last.

“Guys like that find a way,” said defenceman Chris Pronger.

It was Canada’s eighth Olympic gold medal overall in men’s hockey and they became the first to win on home ice since the U.S. did it in 1980’s ‘Miracle On Ice.’

Crosby was one of a handful of players who had a chance to put the game away in regulation. Canada nursed a 2-1 lead into the final minute of play; prior to that, Crosby had been denied on a breakaway with about three minutes to go and both Pronger and Shea Weber hit the post early in the third period.

Normally, in the rhythm of any hockey game, too many missed chances at one end translate into a goal at the other – and yesterday was no exception. With 25 seconds remaining in regulation; Canada getting set for a celebration; and goaltender Ryan Miller on the bench for a sixth attacker, the U.S. tied the game on a goal by Zach Parise. The sequence was potentially heart-breaking: Patrick Kane’s shot deflected off Jamie Langenbrunner’s skate right to Parise, who skated across the front of the goal crease and tucked a shot past goaltender Roberto Luongo.

To be so close to the championship – and then needing to return for four-on-four overtime – was just the final test in what had been a pressure-packed two weeks for the Canadian team. Thanks to Crosby, they survived.

According to centre Ryan Getzlaf, there wasn’t a lot said in the Canadian dressing room during the 15-minute intermission.

“Our guys did a great job – the leaders we have in that room – of staying poised and getting it done in the end,” said Getzlaf, who almost missed the Olympics because of an ankle injury suffered the week before the Games started. In the end, Getzlaf proved to be one of Canada’s most important contributors, setting up the second goal – by Corey Perry – that for the longest time looked as if it would be the game winner.

“I knew that Canada had a very good chance of winning the gold medal,” said Getzlaf, “and I wanted to be part of it. I was fortunate enough that the hockey gods blessed me to get that foot better and be back for the tournament.”

Getzlaf played with Crosby on Canada’s 2005 world junior hockey championship team.

“That’s Sid for you,” said Getzlaf. “There’s a reason he’s the best player in the world. He always shows up in those big moments and scores those big goals.”

It was a wonderfully played game on many levels – close-and-tight checking to start, with strong goaltending at both ends throughout. The nerves and what players like to call the “compete” level were at a fever pitch throughout. There was a moment when the cameras caught Iginla smiling on the bench after a particularly hard shift, talking to Crosby. Could it really have been fun too?

“We’d been talking together all tournament as a line – and communicating with each other,” said Iginla. On the winning goal, according to Iginla, Crosby “was yelling pretty urgently. There are different pitches of yells; this was loud.

“Sid, he just keeps going. He could have scored on that breakaway in regulation, but he’s a positive guy, and it was awesome to see it go in.”

A sentiment that was seconded all across Canada Sunday.


Canada Says Goodbye …

Images Credit: Getty Images onYahoo


Team Canada caps Golden Games with a thrilling overtime win over the United States

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER – Canada has capped the Golden Games with the medal that matters, beating the United States 3-2 in an Olympic hockey overtime thriller at Canada Hockey Place.

Sidney Crosby scored on a low shot through Ryan Miller‘s legs seven minutes 40 seconds into overtime to decide the last medal of the Vancouver Olympics.

“I just shot it,” he told CTV. “I didn’t really see it to be honest.”

It’s Canada’s 14th gold of the Vancouver Games, breaking the record for most gold medals at a Winter Olympics. The Soviet Union, in 1976, and Norway, in 2002, each won 13.

Zach Parise sent the game into overtime, stuffing in a rebound from in-close off a Patrick Kane shot with just 24.4 seconds left and Miller on the bench.

That forced a 20-minute sudden-death overtime, played four-on-four.

Jonathan Toews and Corey Perry scored for Canada in the first and second period, respectively. Miller stood tall the rest of the game in the U.S. net.

Ryan Kesler cut the margin to 2-1 in the second period, deflecting a shot past Roberto Luongo.

The gold was Canada’s eighth in men’s hockey at the Games — and the first since Team Canada defeated the host U.S. 5-2 at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.

The Canadian women’s team won hockey gold Thursday, defeating the U.S. 2-0.

A wild end to regulation time saw Miller pulled with an extra attacker with 1:30 left to play.

Parise, the Americans’ best forward in the tournament, tied the game and forced OT as Kane’s shot went off Jamie Langenbrunner‘s skate to the front of the net where Parise slipped it past Luongo.

Toews and Perry spotted Canada a 2-0 lead before Kesler scored on a deflection in the second period for the U.S.

The packed stands at Canada Hockey Place were like a giant party for flag- and sign-waving revellers dressed in Canadian red and white.

The Canadian men did it in a game that outmatched even a Stanley Cup final in pace and ferocity, as thundering hits were made on both sides and the NHL referees mostly kept their whistles in their pockets and let them battle.

As in 2002 in Salt Lake City, Canada took gold in both men’s and women’s hockey — this time in the first Olympic tournament held on the smaller NHL-size ice surface.

The Canadian team looked to be in trouble after losing 5-3 to the U.S. in their final preliminary round game a week earlier.

But as they did in Salt Lake, they improved with each game and found the cohesion and intensity to claw their way into the final and a chance to avenge the loss to the fast but less skilled Americans and their quick-legged Miller, who took a 1.04 goals-against average into the final.

The U.S. win in round-robin play forced Canada to play an extra elimination round game. Even though that was an easy 8-2 win over German, the sense was that the youthful American team would be fresher in the third period of the final and they were.

But in a wild third, Canada’s Shea Weber and Chris Pronger hit goalposts in the first two minutes, Dany Heatley just failed to lift a puck over sprawled Miller 10 minutes in, and Crosby, held without a point in the final three games, lost the handle on the puck on a late breakaway thanks to determined backchecking from Kane.

At the other end, Luongo held his ground and the defence kept shooters out of the goal area in a bid to preserve the win.

The opening minutes of the game saw heavy hitting from both sides, particularly U.S. defenceman Brooks Orpik who nearly put Heatley into the players bench, but Canada did not allow the Americans to establish pressure in their zone.

Toews connected 12:50 into the game as the Chicago centre and Mike Richards combined to win battles for the puck near the net against Erik Johnson and Paul Stastny and Richards pushed it to Toews for high shot from in close.

It was the first of the tournament for perhaps Canada’s most consistent forward and marked the first time the U.S. had trailed in a game.

Canada had just completed its first penalty kill when Ryan Getzlaf skated into the U.S. and zone and saw his pass go off Ryan Whitney‘s skate to Perry alone in front for a quick shot and his fourth goal at 8:25.

Just as the flag and sign-waving crowd began to party in the seats, the U.S. struck back as Kane snapped a shot that went off the shaft of Kesler’s stick and trickled through Luongo’s equipment at 12:44.

Between periods, Kesler told a TV interviewer he felt his Vancouver teammate Luongo was fighting the puck, as he had in previous games.

Canada became the first country to win hockey gold on home ice since the American Miracle On Ice team from the 1980 Games in Lake Placid.

It was a first loss at these Games for the Americans. The last hockey team to go undefeated at the Olympics was the Soviet Union, which was 5-0 in Calgary in 1988.

Both referees Bill McCreary and Dan O’Halloran, as well as linesman Jean Morin are Canadian. The other linesman was Stefan Fonselius of Finland.

The full house was also packed with celebrities, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, singers Neil Young and Bryan Adams, actors William Shatner and Vince Vaughn, and from the sports world, golfer Mike Weir and hockey greats Gordie Howe and Mark Messier.

Notes— It was the 17th meeting between Canada and the U.S. in Olympic history. Canada leads the series (10-3-3)… Coach Mike Babcock wore his lucky McGill University tie for the game. He is (5-2) all-time with the tie, with both losses in overtime… In the pre-game warmup, Crosby stopped to tie a skate lace and his former Pittsburgh teammate, American Ryan Malone, slid a couple pucks toward him to try to hit his gloves on the ice. Malone smiled, Crosby didn’t react.


CANADA WINS GOLD !!! Sudden Death Overtime Crosby for the WIN !!!! Canada 3 U.S.A. 2 … Canadian Gold Medalist(s) #14

By Jamie Bell, CTVOlympics.ca

Canada is once again on top of the hockey world as they have defeated the United States 3-2 in overtime in the gold medal game at the Olympic hockey tournament.

Sidney Crosby was the overtime hero as he beat Ryan Miller mid-way through the extra-frame.

While Roberto Luongo was criticized prior to the tournament for his lack of big game experience, he has likely silenced those doubters as he made 34 saves in the victory.

Jonathan Toews and Corey Perry also scored for Canada, while Ryan Kesler and Zach Parise responded for the United States.

The win secures Canada’s 14th gold medal at the Games, setting an all-time Olympic record.

Along with the gold medal, Canada was also able to regain bragging rights on continental supremacy after the Americans beat Team Canada 5-3 earlier in the tournament.

It is a jam packed house at Canada Hockey Place that was littered with Canadian-born celebrities like Neil Young, Michael J. Fox, Bryan Adams, William Shatner and Prime Minister Stephen Harper sporting his Canada jersey.

They were treated to a fast-paced and hard-hitting encounter between a pair of rivals who know each other very well.

Canada drew first blood as Mike Richards separated Erik Johnson from the puck with a strong forechecking effort. Ryan Miller kicked out Richards shot but Jonathan Toews was there to bury the rebound for his first of the tournament to send a packed house at Canada Hockey Place into a frenzy.

The bad blood nearly boiled over at the end of the period as Jack Johnson drilled Corey Perry into the boards after the final buzzer. Ryan Getzlaf did not like that one bit as he went back at Johnson. The referees had to break up a skirmish as both teams headed to the dressing room with Canada holding a one-goal advantage.

Perry got his revenge on the scoreboard as adding to Canada’s lead in the second period. After killing off a penalty to Eric Staal, Canada went on the attack as Getzlaf lofted a backhander at the American net. Miller kicked out a rebound directly into the path of Perry who hammered home his fourth goal of the tournament, giving Canada a two-goal advantage.

That would be short-lived as the Americans were able to respond late in the period thanks to the quick hands of Kesler in front as he tipped Patrick Kane’s shot past his Vancouver Canucks’ teammate Luongo to pull the United States within a goal.

With all the momentum behind them, the Americans buzzed around Luongo’s net with Ryan Suter coming close to equalizing with a backhanded effort that just trickled wide.

Canada came out flying in the final frame, nearly adding to their lead with less than a minute in as both Shea Weber and Chris Pronger drives beat Miller but found iron instead of glory.

The Canadians continued to heap on the offensive pressure as Dany Heatley had a great chance to give Canada a two-goal lead, but was denied twice by Miller at the side of the net.

Sidney Crosby had a great opportunity to salt this one away with just over three minutes remaining as he was sprung on a break. Miller was equal to the task once again to keep his team in this one.

With just over a minute remaining, American head coach Ron Wilson called a time-out to rally his troops and pull Miller from the net.

The gambit paid off as Parise was able to beat Luongo to silence the crowd and send this epic encounter to overtime.
Canada had the better chances in overtime, but once again Ryan Miller has continued his stellar play, robbing Jarome Iginla and Rick Nash on great scoring opportunities.

But Miller’s luck ran out as Crosby was able to shovel home his fourth of the tournament to secure the victory and give the country the golden moment they had been waiting for.


Canada sets Winter Games medal record

CTV Olympics.ca online here

Canada reached rare heights Saturday, becoming only the third country to win 13 gold medals at the Olympic Winter Games.

A new mark for Winter Olympics will be set Sunday if Canada beats the United States for men’s hockey gold.

An Olympics that had a stuttering start for the host nation gained yet more momentum Saturday on what was the first three-gold day in Canada’s Winter Games history. The men’s long-track team of Denny Morrison, Lucas Makowsky and Mathieu Giroux kicked it off by beating the United States at the Richmond Oval. Minutes later Jasey-Jay Anderson staged a dramatic comeback in the second leg of the Parallel Giant Slalom final to win gold.

And then Kevin Martin’s rink beat Norway 6-3 in the men’s curling final.

The only previous countries to win 13 gold in a Winter Games were the Soviet Union in 1976 and Norway in 2002.

The 13 gold medals is also a record for a host nation, breaking the previous mark of 10 set by the United States and Norway.

Canada seems certain to end the Games with 26 medals. Lyndon Rush’s sled won a bronze Saturday in four-man bobsleigh. That’s a record, two more than the 24 won in Turin four years ago.


Canada Gold Medalist #13

// By Ryan Johnston, CTVOlympics.ca

VANCOUVER — Kevin Martin redeemed his last rock miss in Salt Lake City by winning gold on home soil Saturday, beating Norway 6-3. The gold medal was the third for Canada on a banner second-last day.

Martin never trailed in the draw, building a 3-0 lead before watching Norway cut it back to one at 3-2. Martin then played a perfect draw in the seventh to make it 5-2. A draw in the ninth stretched the lead to three and allowed Martin to match the feat of Brad Gushue in Turin 2006 and claim back-to-back Olympic gold for Canada.

Watch a replay of the gold medal winning performance here.

END 1: Martin blanked the first end to retain last rock. Canada 0, Norway 0.

END 2: Martin with last rock, playing the red stones. Morris clears the yellow Norwegian stones with a highlight triple takeout. Ulsrud forces Martin to draw for one. Canada 1, Norway 0.

END 3: Norway blanks a wide-open third end and retains the hammer. Canada 1, Norway 0.

END 4: Ulsrud misses a draw to the button and Martin steals one. Last rock stays with Norway. Television commentators blame the miss on a brushing error. Canada 2, Norway 0.

END 5: Morris in on fire, another double-takeout. Fist pumps everywhere. Ulsrud misses a double-takeout attempt of his own. The crowd awakens with a Go Canada Go. Martin steals one again. Canada 3, Norway 0.

END 6: We’re back. The break seems to have revived Ulsrud, who is back in the game with a deuce. Canada takes last rock. Canada 3, Norway 2.

END 7: Martin calls timeout. Conversation seems to be around the peel, the double-peel or a draw. Double-peel it is. Ulsrud misses with his last rock, allowing Martin to draw for two. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is on his feet. The big screen just showed men’s hockey coach Mike Babcock as well. Canada 5, Norway 2.

END 8: Morris restores faith with a good shot in the eighth after a pair of previous misses, the crowd responds. Martin draws to the top button, pressure is on the Norwegians. Martin delivers a perfect freeze, Norway can only take one. Canada 5, Norway 3.

END 9: Martin with last rock. Timeout called; the Norwegian coach is also wearing the checkered pants. Solidarity. Martin draws for another single point. Up three heading to the last end. Canada 6, Norway 3.

END 10: Norway with last rock. One end away from back-to-back Olympic gold medals in men’s curling for Canada. Impromptu singing of O Canada. Martin backs off.  Norway is run out of stones and Martin is an Olympic champion.

GAME OVER


Canada sets Winter Games medal record

Jasey Jay Anderson’s gold medal in Parallel Giant Slalom Saturday guaranteed a Winter Games record for number of Canadian medals.

But coupled with the men’s long-track team pursuit gold it also gives Canada a chance for a much bigger accomplishment – record number of gold medals at a Winter Olympic Games.

Anderson’s gold medal is Canada’s 23rd at these Games. But Kevin Martin’s rink is guaranteed a curling medal later Saturday and the men’s hockey team will win either gold or silver tomorrow against the United States.

So 25 medals are now guaranteed at the Vancouver Games, one more than the 24 won in Turin four years ago.

But gold for Martin in curling and the men’s hockey team would give Canada 14 golds, an Winter Olympic record.

A 26th medal is a possibility for Canada given that Lyndon Rush’s sled is in second place heading into the final run of the four-man bobsleigh competition at Whistler.


Canadian Gold Medalist(s) #12

Canada has struck gold at the Richmond Olympic Oval.

The men’s long track speed skating team pursuit trio of Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., Lucas Makowsky of Regina and Mathieu Giroux of Montreal defeated the United States in a time of three minutes 41:37 seconds to capture the gold medal on Saturday.

The Americans closed the gap as the race wore on but could not catch the Canadians and finished in a time of three minutes 42.58 seconds to capture the silver medal.

The Netherlands took home the bronze with an Olympic record time of three minutes 39.95 seconds.

We all have the speed for the 1,500m and we were able to build on that,” Makowsky said following the race. “It is just surreal right now.”

The Canadian men dominated their first two races on the opener of a two-day event, setting an Olympic record on Friday in the quarterfinals to beat Italy, and then eclipsing that mark in the semifinal against Norway to advance to the gold-medal race.

The women’s pursuit team of Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., Kristina Groves of Ottawa and Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg were upset when the heavily favoured Canadians fell to the United States in the opening round. They defeated the Netherlands on Saturday to finish fifth.

Germany won the women’s speed skating team pursuit gold medal, while Japan took silver with Poland claiming bronze.


Canadian Gold Medalist #11

Canadian Jasey-Jay Anderson has won the Olympic gold medal at the men’s parallel giant slalom at Cypress Mountain.

Anderson, Canada’s most decorated snowboarder, beat out long-time rival Benjamin Karl of Austria.

France’s Mathieu Bozetto secured the bronze medal.

Anderson, who has claimed a total of 59 podium finishes with 26 victories in 207 World Cup starts, has competed in three previous Olympic Games without cracking the finals.

Anderson’s victory closes out a snowboarding career that has spanned almost 20 years.

“It’s been my whole life…it’s a really small sport and to stick around this long, you need to…really perservere and be hard-headed many many times,” Anderson said at a press conference last week.

“I am fortunate to have been able to be an athlete up to the age of 34 in this sport.

“The people Ive met, the people who have helped me grow through the sport and through sport in general just the experience of going through the whole Olympic process, being a Canadian in sport, family support.

“I am not the same person that I would have been had I taken a more conventional lifestyle or life path.”

With files from Brett Carpentier


Canada poised to finish top of the podium

Ivan Sekretarev/The Canadian Press

With two short track gold medals Friday Canada now stands a reasonable chance of tying the Winter Games record of 13 gold medals.

The two short-track golds also means Canada has tied its all-time record for Olympic gold in a Winter or Summer Games. Canada won 10 gold medals at the heavily boycotted 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

Canadians are favoured to win gold in three events during the final two days of the Games: men’s long-track pursuit, men’s curling and men’s hockey.

The three-man team of Denny Morrison, Lucas Makowsky and Mathieu Giroux set a couple of Olympic records Friday at the Richmond Oval. They skated past Norway in the semi-finals with an Olympic record time of three minutes 42.22 seconds and will race in Saturday’s final against the United States, which upset the Netherlands by 0.40 seconds in the other semi-final.

Kevin Martin’s rink faces Norway for gold in the Olympic final Saturday.

Canada’s men’s hockey team will play for gold against the United States on Sunday after defeating Slovakia 3-2 in Friday night’s semi-final.


Canada outlasts Slovakia to earn date with USA

By Jamie Bell, CTVOlympics.ca

For the second time since NHL players began participating in the Olympics, Canada will face the United States in the gold medal game thanks to a 3-2 victory over Slovakia Friday.

After controlling the play for the majority of the game, Canada gave up two goals late in this one and then held on for the victory.

Patrick Marleau, Brenden Morrow and Ryan Getzlaf had the goals for Canada while Lubomir Visnovsky and Michal Handzus replied for the Slovaks.

Roberto Luongo was stellar for two periods but looked shaky in the final frame; however he came up with his biggest save when Canada needed him most.

It was a frenetic closing two minutes in this one as the Slovaks threw everything they had at the Canadian net looking for an equalizer, but Pavol Demitra was robbed by Luongo with less than 10 seconds on the clock on a shot that would have sent this one to OT.

It appeared as though Canada was going to cruise in this one as tipped goals by Marleau and Morrow in the first period gave the Canadians a two goal lead early.

When Getzlaf made it 3-0 thanks to a power play goal in the second period the Canadian fans sensed that the rout was on.

With just five minutes into the third period, the Canadian supporters began to get impatient, chanting “We want the USA,” as it appeared that the Canadian lead was safe and a Sunday date with the United States looked inevitable.

But the Slovaks were not ready to go down quietly. On a delayed penalty Visnovsky’s backhand trickled past Luongo on a shot that the Canadian goalie would have loved to have back. Suddenly Canada’s lead was down to two.

Slovakia continued to pour on the pressure as Richard Zednik circled the net. His shot was stopped but Michal Handzus was there to clean up the garbage and pull Slovakia within one. All of a sudden the rematch with the United States did not look so inevitable.

With Halak pulled in favour of the extra attacker Slovakia had the Canadians on their heels and scrambling in their own zone. That’s when Luongo came up with the save that has already been dubbed ‘the glove from above’ to stone Demitra and send Canada Hockey Place into a frenzy.

As the final buzzer sounded it was largely a sense of relief as Canada had earned their rematch with the United States who beat them 5-3 earlier in the tournament.

The United States will also be looking to settle the score after Canada captured the gold on American soil in Salt Lake City in 2002.

Slovakia will now go on to face Finland in Saturday’s bronze medal game.


Canadian Gold Medalist(s) #10

By Jennifer Lukas, CTVOlympics.ca

Canada’s men’s short track speed skating team finally ended its medal drought, Friday, and they did it in a big way.

In the 500m, Charles Hamelin of Levis, Que., picked up the gold medal, finishing first in 40.981 seconds. Teammate François-Louis Tremblay of Montreal earned bronze.

Less than an hour later, Hamelin and Tremblay led teammates François Hamelin, Olivier Jean and Guillaume Bastille to the top of the podium, winning the men’s 5,000m relay in six minutes, 44.224 seconds.

Bastille did not participate in the final, but because he raced in the semis, he will also receive a medal.

The men’s 500m race began with all four skaters – South Korea’s Sung Si-Bak, Apolo Anton Ohno of the United States, Tremblay and Charles Hamelin – in tight contention for a medal.

Things opened up in the final lap. Tremblay spilled onto the ice after what appeared to be a push from Ohno, while Sung Si-Bak slipped and fell behind.

It was Hamelin who was first across the line, but Ohno was close on his heels. Upon review, however, the referee disqualified the United States’ most decorated winter athlete, postponing Ohno’s eighth career Olympic medal.

Sung was boosted to silver with a time of 41.340, while Tremblay, with a time of 46.336, was third.

In a live post race interview with NBC, Ohno said he believed he was unfairly disqualified by a Canadian official. He said he believed the ruling was made to put two Canadians on the podium.

The silver and bronze were Canada’s first in the distance since Marc Gagnon won gold in 2002.

In the men’s 5,000m relay, Canada tucked into second place behind China’s relay team for the first 20 laps of the 40-lap race. South Korea was close behind the Canadians in third.

It was Jean who actually made the move to pass China as the skaters entered second half of the race. Canada held the lead until the end, earning the gold ahead of South Korea. The United States finished third.

With the relay result, Canada tied its best-ever gold-medal tally, earning its 10th gold of these Games. Canada last picked up 10 gold medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

With the 5,000m gold, Tremblay also made his own mark in the history books. He joins Marc Gagnon as the only male Canadian athlete to win a total of five medals at the Olympic Winter Games.


Who will be Canada’s closing flag-bearer?

CTV Olympics online report here

By Jim Morris, The Canadian Press

WHISTLER, B.C. – Clara Hughes carried the Maple Leaf to help kick off the Vancouver Olympics. The veteran speedskater is picking Alexandre Bilodeau as the home side’s flag-bearer when the Games come to a close Sunday.

“I am fully behind Alex,” Hughes said in an email to The Canadian Press. “He is truly inspiring to me and his gold shines bright, like the sun in the sky. Not just because it was the first for Canada on Canadian soil, more so because of who he is.”

Bilodeau won moguls gold, becoming the first Canadian to be crowned Olympic champion at home. He also won the hearts of Canadians with his post-medal tribute to older brother Frederic, who has cerebral palsy.

“Enjoy life, that is his philosophy and he’s got the right to complain,” said Alexandre.
After his victory, Bilodeau donated $25,000 to the Canadian Association of Paediatric Health Centres in support of research into cerebral palsy.

Figure skater Joannie Rochette, who won bronze with a courageous performance in the wake of her mother’s death, will also come under consideration. The festive nature of the closing ceremonies may not suit her, however, although she has shown tremendous resolve already.

“That was the most inspiring thing I have ever seen!” Sami Jo Small, a former gold-medal winning goaltender for the women’s Olympic hockey team, said on Twitter.

“Joannie should carry the CND Flag at the closing ceremonies. Represents the best of us!”

Nathalie Lambert, Canada’s chef de mission, said many athletes deserve consideration.

“I think we need to respect every single athlete,” she said in Vancouver. “Joannie did an amazing, totally inspirational performance. So did Alex. So did Hayley Wickenheiser. So did Kristina Groves. So did Maelle (Ricker).

“There were a lot of wow moments that inspired people in different ways and I think we need to consider everybody.”

The decision of who will be flag-bearer will be made by Lambert and her assistants Joe Juneau and Steve Podborski.

Chris Rudge, chief executive officer with the Canadian Olympic Committee, said an athlete’s performance at the Games is only one factor.

“It’s pretty subjective,” said Rudge. “You take a look at the performance during the Games. You take a look at the activity in the village and the relationship the athlete has with the rest of the team, who would be perceived by the other athletes as a leader.”
Lambert bristled at the suggestion language and gender play a role.

“We don’t go ‘Last time it was an athlete from that sport, or it was a French Canadian or an English Canadian, or it was a guy or a girl,'” she said. “We are really trying to give this opportunity to who we feel is the best person to represent Canada.”

There is no formal nomination process but athletes can make suggestions.
“Already people have started lobbying,” Lambert said.

The decision won’t be announced until Saturday night or Sunday.

Another candidate is skeleton racer Jon Montgomery of Russell, Man., who became an Olympic gold medallist and then champion hoser for slurping from a pitcher of beer handed to him as he walked through Whistler.

Ottawa’s Kristina Groves won two speedskating medals.

Ricker’s victory in snowboard cross made the Squamish, B.C., resident the first Canadian woman to win Olympic gold at home.

“Local girl, learned to turn on this hill, dominated in the finals, won the gold medal by a mile,” Christian Hrab, high-performance director of Canada Snowboard, said at Cypress Mountain.

“It’s a snowboard nation here in Canada, so we think Maelle would be good.”
Calgary’s Wickenheiser, the captain of the women’s hockey team, earned her third Olympic gold medal with Canada’s 2-0 win over the U.S. Thursday night.

Cindy Klassen, who won five speedskating medals, carried the flag at the closing ceremonies of the 2006 Turin Games.

Pairs skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, who remained composed during the figure skating controversy in Salt Lake City, had the honour in 2002.

Catriona Le May Doan, who won gold and bronze, was the closing ceremony flag-bearer in 1998 in Nagano. Myriam Bedard, a double gold medallist in biathlon, did it at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics.

With files from Canadian Press sports writers Donna Spencer and Andy Blatchford


Who will be Canada's closing flag-bearer?

CTV Olympics online report here

By Jim Morris, The Canadian Press

WHISTLER, B.C. – Clara Hughes carried the Maple Leaf to help kick off the Vancouver Olympics. The veteran speedskater is picking Alexandre Bilodeau as the home side’s flag-bearer when the Games come to a close Sunday.

“I am fully behind Alex,” Hughes said in an email to The Canadian Press. “He is truly inspiring to me and his gold shines bright, like the sun in the sky. Not just because it was the first for Canada on Canadian soil, more so because of who he is.”

Bilodeau won moguls gold, becoming the first Canadian to be crowned Olympic champion at home. He also won the hearts of Canadians with his post-medal tribute to older brother Frederic, who has cerebral palsy.

“Enjoy life, that is his philosophy and he’s got the right to complain,” said Alexandre.
After his victory, Bilodeau donated $25,000 to the Canadian Association of Paediatric Health Centres in support of research into cerebral palsy.

Figure skater Joannie Rochette, who won bronze with a courageous performance in the wake of her mother’s death, will also come under consideration. The festive nature of the closing ceremonies may not suit her, however, although she has shown tremendous resolve already.

“That was the most inspiring thing I have ever seen!” Sami Jo Small, a former gold-medal winning goaltender for the women’s Olympic hockey team, said on Twitter.

“Joannie should carry the CND Flag at the closing ceremonies. Represents the best of us!”

Nathalie Lambert, Canada’s chef de mission, said many athletes deserve consideration.

“I think we need to respect every single athlete,” she said in Vancouver. “Joannie did an amazing, totally inspirational performance. So did Alex. So did Hayley Wickenheiser. So did Kristina Groves. So did Maelle (Ricker).

“There were a lot of wow moments that inspired people in different ways and I think we need to consider everybody.”

The decision of who will be flag-bearer will be made by Lambert and her assistants Joe Juneau and Steve Podborski.

Chris Rudge, chief executive officer with the Canadian Olympic Committee, said an athlete’s performance at the Games is only one factor.

“It’s pretty subjective,” said Rudge. “You take a look at the performance during the Games. You take a look at the activity in the village and the relationship the athlete has with the rest of the team, who would be perceived by the other athletes as a leader.”
Lambert bristled at the suggestion language and gender play a role.

“We don’t go ‘Last time it was an athlete from that sport, or it was a French Canadian or an English Canadian, or it was a guy or a girl,'” she said. “We are really trying to give this opportunity to who we feel is the best person to represent Canada.”

There is no formal nomination process but athletes can make suggestions.
“Already people have started lobbying,” Lambert said.

The decision won’t be announced until Saturday night or Sunday.

Another candidate is skeleton racer Jon Montgomery of Russell, Man., who became an Olympic gold medallist and then champion hoser for slurping from a pitcher of beer handed to him as he walked through Whistler.

Ottawa’s Kristina Groves won two speedskating medals.

Ricker’s victory in snowboard cross made the Squamish, B.C., resident the first Canadian woman to win Olympic gold at home.

“Local girl, learned to turn on this hill, dominated in the finals, won the gold medal by a mile,” Christian Hrab, high-performance director of Canada Snowboard, said at Cypress Mountain.

“It’s a snowboard nation here in Canada, so we think Maelle would be good.”
Calgary’s Wickenheiser, the captain of the women’s hockey team, earned her third Olympic gold medal with Canada’s 2-0 win over the U.S. Thursday night.

Cindy Klassen, who won five speedskating medals, carried the flag at the closing ceremonies of the 2006 Turin Games.

Pairs skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, who remained composed during the figure skating controversy in Salt Lake City, had the honour in 2002.

Catriona Le May Doan, who won gold and bronze, was the closing ceremony flag-bearer in 1998 in Nagano. Myriam Bedard, a double gold medallist in biathlon, did it at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics.

With files from Canadian Press sports writers Donna Spencer and Andy Blatchford