Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics — Day 14 review

By Paul Hurst
nada's women's Ice Hockey team at Vancouver 2010

Canada's women's Ice Hockey team at Vancouver 2010

Canada’s women claimed Ice Hockey gold last night, amidst wild celebrations at Canada Hockey Place, with a 2-0 victory over the USA.

The victory marks Canada’s third consecutive gold in the event, but it certainly didn’t mean any less to the veterans like Hayley Wickenheiser. The Canadian captain, now a four-time Olympic medallist, received the biggest cheer of the night as the medals were presented.

The Canadians took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission, with two goals from Marie-Philip Poulin. The game then developed into a fascinating contest of attack and counter-attack. That there were no more goals in the game was testament to the brilliance of both goaltenders, Jessie Vetter in the American net and Shannon Szabados in the Canadian.

The Americans were given plenty of opportunity to get back in the game. Early in the second period, a pair of delay of game penalties on Canada gave the Americans a 5-on-3 powerplay for more than a minute and a half. They camped out in front of the Canadian goal, but could not find a way past Szabados.

Canada had their own opportunities to put the game beyond reach, but also failed to convert a number of good chances. In the end though, it didn’t matter, as their two goal advantage was more than enough to see them through.

Finland defeated Sweden in the bronze medal match.

Despite a gold medal game that was a great advert for the women’s game, there has already been discussion of its future as an Olympic sport. IOC President Jacques Rogge has warned in the past that there needs to be improvement in the competitive balance of the sport.

Results like Canada’s 18-0 demolition of Slovakia this year do not bode well. In five games in this tournament at Vancouver 2010 Canada scored 48 goals, conceding just two. The USA scored 40, and conceded four. If there are similar statistics in Sochi, it may be the last we see of the women’s game at the Olympics for a while.

If Canada’s men can follow the lead of the women, it will make last night’s celebrations look like a coffee morning. There has been renewed optimism across the nation following their quarter-final victory over Russia, and they can seal their berth in the final with a win over Slovakia on Friday at 6.30pm (2.30pm UK). The other semi pits the USA against Finland at 12pm (8pm UK).

Belarus won their first ever Winter Olympic gold last night, as Alexei Grishin surprised almost everyone in the Men’s Freestyle Aerials Final. The surprise came not because Grishin lacks quality — he certainly doesn’t — but because he won despite the exploits of American Jeret Peterson.

Peterson had gone into the lead after landing by far the most difficult jump of all the competitors, his signature ‘Hurricane’. Grishin performed a less difficult jump, but executed it almost perfectly. His mark wasn’t as high as Peterson, but was good enough, coupled with his 1.99 point lead from the first jump, to take gold by 1.20 points. Liu Zhongqing of China won bronze.

America won their first ever Nordic Combined gold medal up at Whistler, as Bill Demong led a USA 1-2. His jump was far from spectacular, but he showed true grit on the ski as he came in four seconds ahead of compatriot Johnny Spillane. Spillane is now a triple silver medallist at these games, finishing second in all three Nordic Combined events. Bernhard Gruber of Austria won bronze.

Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany took gold once the weather-interrupted Ladies’ Giant Slalom recommenced. Tina Maze of Slovenia won silver, whilst the leader from the first run, Elisabeth Goergl could only finish in bronze medal position.

Norway won gold in the Ladies’ 4x5km Cross-Country Relay, comfortably ahead of Germany in silver, and Finland in bronze. Marit Bjoergen, who skied the final leg for Norway, now has four medals at these Games, three of them gold.

In the most spectacular performance of the day, South Korean superstar Kim Yu-Na won gold in the Ladies’ Figure Skating with a record breaking performance.

With the weight of the expectation of an entire nation on her shoulders, she absolutely shattered her previous world record, scoring an incredible 228.56 points. Kim’s performance was flawless, but even she couldn’t believe just how good her score was when it was announced, putting her pretty much out of sight of her competition.

There was another great story in the performance Canada’s Joannie Rochette. Just hours after arriving in Vancouver on Sunday to watch her daughter compete, Rochette’s mother Therese died after suffering a heart attack.

Rochette took the decision to compete, and did her mother proud, as a great performance in the Free Skate was enough for her to win bronze, just behind Japan’s Mao Asada in silver.

On Friday, there is plenty of action from the Pacific Coliseum, as the Short Track programme concludes, with three medal events. The Ladies’ Alpine Skiing programme, weather-permitting, will also conclude with the Slalom.

From skis to snowboards, the Ladies’ Parallel Giant Slalom will be decided on Cypress Mountain. For the slower-paced, the gold medal match in the Women’s Curling tournament will pit Canada against Sweden at 3pm (11pm UK).

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