A great O Canada day

12:03, 25 February 2010
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Canada enjoyed one of its...

Medals in speed skating and bobsleigh, and a rousing men`s hockey win over Russia, according to Vancouver Sun.

Canada enjoyed one of its best days at these or any other any Olympics Wednesday as the men`s hockey team trashed the vaunted Russians 7-3, veteran distance speed-skater Clara Hughes won bronze, the short-track skating relay team scored silver and the women`s bobsleigh teams took the top two spots, including the country`s seventh gold medal.

That gold medal, won by bobsledders Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse, tied Canada with the United States and Germany for the most gold medals at the 2010 Games.

It matched our best Olympic Games gold-medal haul, recorded in Barcelona, Turin and Salt Lake City, with four days left to go to reach new golden heights.

The bobsleigh victory and the silver-medal performance of the other Canadian bobsledders, Helen Upperton and Shelley-Ann Brown, plus the two medals won at the Richmond skating oval further reinforced the gender gap in Canada`s medal chest.

Canadian women have won 11 medals to the men`s three.

Ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won Canada`s 15th medal, a heart-wrenching gold.

It was the first day of the Vancouver Olympics when Canadians not only converted every medal opportunity, but exceeded expectations.

A gold and silver in the bobsleigh was a long shot and both Hughes and the short-track relay squad were surprise medallists.

But the biggest cheers of the day erupted in homes, workplaces and bars across Canada as Canada`s hockey squad outplayed Alexander Ovechkin and the Russians in a historic game punctuated with dazzling displays of passing and scoring.

The quarter-final game, which was expected to be one of the most-watched television events in Canadian history, lived up to the hockey-obsessed nation`s hopes, with Canada dominating the pre-Olympic favourites from the first faceoff.

Canadians who weren`t around for the 1972 Summit Series final against Russia can now remember where they were for this hockey classic.

After the fast pace of Olympic hockey, some fans might find it difficult going back to watching the Canucks play Tampa Bay or Columbus.

Speaking of the Canucks, goalie Roberto Luongo played a steady game in Canada`s net, ensuring his return in the semifinal.

It was pure redemption for the Canadians, who lost to the Americans on the weekend, albeit after outshooting them in a game in which a hot U.S. goalie made all the difference.

Now the team is back on track for the gold-medal final on Sunday and a storybook Olympic finish, though that might be getting ahead of ourselves.

The inspirational Clara Hughes, in her swan-song Olympic race, provided Canada another magical moment, with her bronze medal in the 5,000 metres.

Her clutch performance, in the event she won at the Turin Olympics, tied teammate Cindy Klassen`s record for a Canadian with a sixth Olympic medal.

The gracious Hughes told her ecstatic supporters: "Thank you to this amazing crowd. Once again you gave me wings."

Hughes, who donated $10,000 at the Turin Olympics to Right to Play, an athlete-driven third world aid organization, has come to personify the best side of the Olympics: sportsmanship, the pursuit of excellence and humanitarianism.

The endurance athlete with the powerful quads and huge heart was the first Canadian to win medals at both the Summer and Winter Games.

She won two bronze medals in cycling at the Atlanta Games in 1996.

Canada`s short-track relay team finished far behind China, but was awarded silver after the second-place Korean team was disqualified.

The double bobsleigh medal score in Whistler equalled a mark set in Turin, when two medals were won in men`s skeleton.

Canada had never won a medal in women`s bobsleigh, which made its Olympic debut in 2002.

Humphries, of Calgary, and Moyse of Summerside, P.E.I., were on opposing teams in previous competitions.

"I did it. We did it. I`m so excited right now," Humphries said shortly after the win.

"I wasn`t focused on the times. I just wanted to drive consistently. That was our goal for the first, second, third and fourth run," she said.

Moyse, who said it was "awesome" to finally join up with her former rival, was almost in tears as she was interviewed.

"It hasn`t quite set in yet. When it does, I`ll be bawling," she said.

Earlier at the Richmond oval, Canada`s Charles Hamelin, Olivier Jean and Francois-Louis Tremblay qualified for today`s individual 500-metre relay quarter-final.

Wednesday was the day that Lindsey Vonn, the world`s best female skier and America`s Olympic poster girl, may have skied her last race at Whistler.

Vonn, who won gold in the downhill and bronze in the super-G, crashed in the giant slalom, hurting her hand.

Vonn said she might not compete in the upcoming slalom race, the final women`s alpine event.

The second leg of the super-G was postponed because of fog with Austrian Elisabeth Goergi in the lead after the first leg.

Canadian skiers aren`t a factor in the race, but their absence was more than made up for by Canada`s performances Wednesday on the hockey rink, the skating oval and the Whistler Sliding Centre.

By Doug Ward, Vancouver Sun

 

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