Well, it's the last day of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games, and what a gongshow it has been! There have been many moments of joy, disappointment, grief, and absolute insanity. These moments will combine to make some awesome memories for many people around the world, whether they were the athletes competing, the spectators who managed to get into Vancouver, or everyone else who spent the last 2 weeks in front of their televisions watching as many events as possible.
Yesterday was a crazy day for Canada. It started with speed skating, where Denny Morrison, Lucas Makowsky, and Mathieu Giroux won gold for the men's short track team pursuit. This was followed only 5 minutes later by Jasey Jay Anderson winning gold in the men's parallel giant slalom snowboarding! At this point, CTV pointed out the following information: with those 2 gold medals, Canada was then sitting at 12 gold, 7 silver and 4 bronze medals, a total of 23 medals. Canada's record for total number of medals was 24 in Turin, and the Winter Olympics record for most gold medals for 1 country in a single Games is 13. And with the men's curling and hockey gold medal matches still waiting for Canada to play.... well, we all saw the sudden hype.....
And it just kept getting better: Kevin Martin's rink played the Norwegian rink in the gold medal match for curling, and won. Yes, Canada got that gold medal in curling. This medal officially tied the Olympic record. Also, during the curling match, the bobsleigh runs completed, and the Canada1 sled finished with a bronze medal. At the end of the day, we had 25 medals (13-7-5), sitting only behind Germany and USA for total medal count, and we tied the Olympic record. I guess the "Own The Podium" idea is working in a way we truly weren't expecting.
Anyways, today is the last day of the Winter Games, and there are only 2 events today (although the Vancouver2010 website is claiming that the closing ceremony counts as a 3rd event). So, instead of just doing my normal schedule and looking at the Canadian athletes, I will do fuller previews of the 2 events. For the last time, check out ctvolympics.ca and vancouver2010.com for plenty of Canadian coverage.
9:30 Cross-Country Skiing: Men's 50km Classic Mass Start (medal event)
Norwegian Peter Rothug has already won a medal of each colour here in Vancouver, and is looking to add 1 more medal to his 2010 Olympic set. Many people are doubting his ability to do so, however, because he has participated in every cross-country skiing event here at the Games and is bound to tire at some point. Maxim Vylegzhanin and Alexander Legkov are Russia's best distance men, and are expected to heavily contend for medals. Vylegzhanin won the silver in the 2009 World event. Lukas Bauer of the Czech Republic already has 2 bronze medals in the event, and is looking for a possible 3rd, while Tobias Angerer of Germany already won silver in the 30km event here in Vancouver. Canadians Ivan Babikov, Alex Harvey, George Grey and Devon Kershaw will be participating, but aren't expected to medal.
12:00 Men's Hockey: Gold Medal Match - Canada vs USA
*I apologize now to Sean and WAACH 'Cast (canucklehead666) if I accidentally stole some of your guys' material for the morning coffee and game thread.
This is what we have been waiting for. The infamous gold medal match. And it's just fitting that we get a repeat of the 2002 showdown between rivals Canada and USA. A week ago, the Americans got the better of the Canadian players and pulled off a monumental 5-3 win. This time around, however, the Americans shouldn't be counting on having the same luck. Although Roberto Luongo is now in net, expect Ryan Kesler to still have an impact. Also, Patrick Kane may know how to score on Luongo (I don't need to explain that one), but Jonathan Toews will be helping to keep his fellow Chicago teammate from scoring. Also expected to be factors are the home ice pressure, the high expectations for Canada, and the new question of whether or not Canada can break that Winter Olympics record for most gold medals.
Now here's what I really want to talk about. Over the last couple of days, I've noticed some creepy resemblances between the 2002 and 2010 Winter Olympics men's hockey tournaments. Now, as a Canadian, I would absolutely love it if history repeats itself completely, but as we all know, that can never be guaranteed. Nonetheless, here's some striking coincidences:
-In 2002, Canada started horribly in preliminary play. They lost 5-2 to Sweden, narrowly edged Germany 3-2, and had a draw with the Czech Republic. In 2010, Canada beat Norway, won the shootout against Switzerland with a score of 3-2, and lost to USA 5-3.
-In 2002, Belarus pulled a huge upset in the quarterfinals by beating Sweden. They went on to lose to Canada in the semifinals and finish 4th. In 2010, Slovakia upset Sweden in the quarterfinals, lost to Canada in the semifinals, and finished 4th.
-In 2002, USA had won almost every game up to the gold medal match, slaughtering all the other teams with high scores, with the exception of a 2-2 draw in preliminary play and a 3-2 score in the semifinals, both games against Russia. In 2010, USA won every single game, and slaughtered most of their opponents, with the exception of a 3-1 score in the preliminaries and a 2-0 score in the quarterfinals, both against Switzerland.
-In 2002, Canada started with
Jose Theodore Curtis Joseph in net, but after the dismal preliminary play, they made the switch to a younger Martin Brodeur, who carried the team to gold. In 2010, after dismal play from Brodeur in the preliminaries, they made the switch to a younger goaltender named Roberto Luongo, who so far has helped carry the team to the gold medal match.
-In 2002, the Olympics were in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. In 2010, the Games are back on the continent in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Take all these strange coincidences as you will. I'm just pointing them out....
17:30 Closing Ceremony
I'm hearing rumours that Neil Young, Nickelback, and Avril Lavigne will be among the performers, and that Alex Ovechkin is still in Vancouver so that he can carry the Russian flag into BC Place.
Well, here's the last open thread. Sean will have a gamethread up later for the hockey game. I'll be honest, I'm going to miss these threads a little bit....