Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Olympics are over

So the Torino Winter Olympics are over and the Canadian (and for that matter all other athletes) are headed home. Now is the time the pundits reflect on how well each of their countries did at the Olympics.

The Canadian Men's Hockey Team has taken some heat for not even meddling during this Olympics despite including players who worth over ninety two million dollars worth in the NHL. General Manager of the Canadian Olympic Hockey Team, Wayne Gretzky, has taken a lot of flack over this team. He is debating whether he should return for the next Olympics or not. I would implore Wayne to make a return on the basis that he is perhaps one of the best unifiers of hockey worldwide. Remember Gretzky was the one the Canadian players rallied around in Canada's push for the Gold Medal in the 2o02 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Gretzky is perhaps one of the only hockey figures that Canadian NHL players are willing to rally around. Why? Perhaps it is because the players know Gretzky has a great personality and knows Gretzky will bring together the best coaching staff in Canadian Hockey. Pat Quinn, Jacques Martin and Ken Hitchcock have more wins in the present NHL. Gretzky may be the only person in Canadian hockey that might be able to unite Canada's best in push for Gold in the future.

Gretzky has learned a lot from these games. He learned that leaving players like Jason Spezza and Sidney Crosby behind might have been a mistake. Jason Spezza is one of Canada's leading scorers and normally plays on the same line with Canadian Olympian Dany Heatley normally for the Ottawa Senators. These two "click" on the same forward line in the NHL and are used to playing with each other, so why not put them on the same line in Torino? Sidney Crosby is the future of Canadian Hockey, so why didn't Crosby get a chance to at least play on the fourth line of the Olympic Team.

As for the rest of the Canadian Olympic Team, I look forward to Vancouver in 2010. Many of the athletes who medalled or came close are still young. The likes of Chandra Crawford, Cindy Klassen, and others are going to be in their prime when Canada hosts the games. There is also a plan for Canadian athletes to do even better than in Torino. Better than Torino? Canada came in third in the metal standings overall. Not bad considering Canada a country of thirty million was only one metal behind the United States who has about thirty million people packed into both New York City and Los Angeles and surrounding areas alone.

The mainly higlights for me during this Olympic games were the smiles of Clara Hughes and Chandra Crawford atop the podiums. Clara Hughes, the Canadian Speed Skater who won gold in the Women's five thousand metre speed skating, collapsed in exhaustion after finishing her race. Myself, and apparently her husband, were worried when she fell in heap on the ice soon after finishing her gold medal race. Hughes had beaten Cindy Klaussen, arguably the best female speed skaters in the world overall now with five Olympic medals in this past games. I was worried Hughes may not be able to enjoy her gold medal win. But luckily she got back on her skates and did climb the podium up next to Cindy Klassen. Hughes had a huge smile on her face in her first Olympic Gold Medal win. Hughes is also another note worthy Canadian, just like Cindy Klassen who has one a total of six olympic Medals in two olympic games in speed skating. Hughes has a total of four olympic medals to her name. Hughes has one speed skating gold medal, one silver speed skating medal (from the Salt Lake City games) and two cycling bronze medals from when Hughes was a cyclist in the summer olympic games. She wasn't my favourite Canadian though in the Olympics.

Chandra Crawford, the cross country gold medalist, was my favourite highlight of this Olympic Games. Crawford had set her goal at placing in the top thirty in the cross country race. Crawford, in her gold medal race, nearly gave her coach heart attack as she fastly sprung out from the starting position. Crawford set a fast pace from the begginning. Her coach thought Crawford would wear herself out at the pace she set from the beginning of the race. But that was not the case considering Crawford was still jumping up and down as she rose with a beaming smile onto the podium to receive her gold medal. The person that nobody thought had a shot at Gold had won! This is the story I will remember from this Olympics.

Other notable accomplishments were Pierre Leuders and Lascelles Oneil Brown taking the two men bobsled silver medal, Jeffrey Buttle taking an unlikely Bronze Medal in men's figure skating (a sport that I don't really watch since the Salt Lake Skating Fiasco), Duff Gibson Gold and Jeff Pain both in Men's Skelton. I have left out some other Canadian medals, but the people above I believe have shown the greatest Olympic spirit in a various capacities. These stories are worth looking up in the future. I may have missed other stories due to working and sleeping (who isn't sleeping at three in the morning on a week day?).

I look forward to Vancouver in 2010 where Canada will hopefully do even better and I will hopefully be able to see more of the games live. I prefer that instead of hearing the results first then seeing the event unfold via tape. As the Vancouver Mayor probably said leaving the closing ceremonies tonight said....


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