Well Canada was extremely close to their goal of 25 medals at the games. I guess you can't really get any closer than 24. It has been an amazing two weeks and Canadians every where should feel some pride for the all the athletes that went over to Turin/Torino. I just wanted to shoot off some thoughts...
- I personally think that Cindy Klassen and Clara Hughes are both equally impressive. While Klassen may be the most decorated Canadian Winter Olympic athlete ever, Hughes is only one medal shy. Hughes has the distinction of having won medals in both the Summer (cycling) and Winter (speed skating) Games, for a total of 5.
- Canada definitely has some young and extremely talented athletes in mix (Overbay, Roberge, Crawford, etc.) and the next few years, leading up to Vancouver, should be very exciting.
- I love the fact that Newfoundland and Labrador completely rallied around Gushue's curling team. It is definitely a sign of pride and unity when the provincial government is willing to shut down schools and many businesses are willing to close early just so people could watch the game and cheer on one of their own. Good for them!
- Canada's Women's hockey team is in a league of their own. At one time they talked about Canada and the US being a top-tier group, with Finland and Sweden being a second-tier, and so on. I honestly think that the top-tier is solely owned by Canada at this point. This makes things a lot more interesting if this holds true. I think it's better for the game to have one elite team rather than two because it than becomes a race to see who can knock them off the podium instead of who is going to be third.
- In my opinion, cross-country skiing and speed skating (short and long) truly prove how athletic these competitors are. There's always talk about how the athletes of the summer games are the real athletes, but I have no doubt in my mind that many of the winter participants are up there with the best.
- Who's fault is it that Canada didn't men's hockey gold? I blame Pat Quinn. I don't think Quinn knows how to coach the more open game. Look at the Maple Leafs. Some may argue that Quinn coached the team to gold in 2002. But I think having the leadership skills of Mario Lemieux and Steve Yzerman on the team did much more for the team than any coaching would have. Though, this opinion may also be attributed to the fact that I'm a life-long Montreal Canadiens fan.
- I feel terrible for the elusive Olympic medal with Jeremy Wotherspoon. However, this shouldn't and hopefully won't define his speed skating career. Wotherspoon is the most decorated speed skater in history with an impressive 57 titles and numerous records. He should take solice in the fact that he's not the first to have bad luck at the Olympics despite being at the top (Kurt Browning anyone?) and that he could be Bode Miller. Miller, the American alpine skier, who is going through similar bad luck is getting eaten alive by the American press.
- One of the most telling, but least regarded, stats at the Winter Olympics is the number of 4th place finishes a nation has. Canada had 14 fourth place finishes, well above any other country. Many of these were hundredths of a second off the podium finishes. The potential for Canada to reach the goal of 30+ medals at Vancouver is definitely within reach!
- I think that if there was a moment (there were probably many more) that easily defined the spirit of the games it came during women's cross-country team sprint. After Sara Renner's pole broke, she was handed a replacement by a Norwegian coach. The act of kindness, while giving Canada its chance to take silver, ultimately knocked Norway's team off the podium. I think it's a great reminder that the Olympics are about much more than winning.