Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Ain’t No Party Like a Gold Medal Party

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — If asked which athlete you’d most like to party with at the Olympics, whom would you pick? Before Thursday I might have said the 2006 version of Bode Miller, who raged against the hype machine in Turin. Or U.S. snowboarder Scotty Lago, who clearly knew how to capitalize on bronze-medal notoriety in the streets of Vancouver. But now, an hour after the women’s hockey gold medal game, I’d say the entire Team Canada — because I’m sitting in press row at Canada Hockey Place, watching these women pound Molsons and smoke cigars on the ice.

A few of the victorious Canadians trickled back out of the locker room after all the fans had cleared the building, and only ushers and a handful of media members remained. A press conference was going on elsewhere in the building. The Olympic champs were still wearing their gold medals — but they were also holding beers, champagne bottles and stogies, and taking tons of pictures. I cut off my live blog of the game at the medal ceremony, and started a new post on the Molson Party, which is the most authentically cool celebration I’ve seen at these Games.

Forward Haley Irwin was kind enough to share one of her beers with a friend behind the penalty box:

Team Canada Party

(Luke Winn/SI)

Irwin (left) and tournament MVP Meghan Agosta laid on the ice and did bicycles while sharing puffs on a victory cigar:

Team Canada Party

(Luke Winn/SI)

First-line forward Caroline Ouellette (13) took swigs off of a giant Molson:

Team Canada Party

(Luke Winn/SI)

And Rebecca Johnston (No. 6) feigned a Zamboni cruise, which would have been cooler had her teammates let her take the giant Molson into the driver’s seat:

Team Canada Party

(Luke Winn/SI)

Finally, Irwin and Agosta worked on a champagne-and-beer combo (if this had been the U.S. team, High Life could have sufficed):

Team Canada Party

(Luke Winn/SI)

I won’t be shocked if I see them driving that Zamboni down Robson Street at 3 a.m. When you win a hockey gold medal for Canada on home soil, I think you’re pretty much given carte blanche.

(Late-night update: In the latest moronic piece of news to come out of the IOC, executive director Gilbert Felli says they will investigate the celebration. “It is not what we want to see,” he told the Associated Press. “I don’t think it’s a good promotion of sport values. If they celebrate in the changing room, that’s one thing, but not in public. We will investigate what happened.”

And the reason Felli had to react to it? Because an equally lame reporter from the AP called to inform him about it and ask for a comment. Is it possible to just see something like this, laugh at it, and be happy for these girls? At least Steve Keough, the Canadian Olympic Committee spokesman whom the AP called, had a reasonable answer: “In terms of the actual celebration,” he said, “it’s not exactly something uncommon in Canada.”

A word for the IOC, and reporters casting this as a negative incident: Please, just let Team Canada have their fun. What they did was refreshingly authentic. Don’t punish them for it.)


  • Published On Feb. 26, 2010 by lukewinn
  • Live: Women’s Hockey Gold Medal Game

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Luke Winn’s live blog of Thursday’s U.S.-Canada Women’s Hockey gold medal game (with most recent updates on top):

    • This 2-0 victory over the U.S. was Canada’s best party yet at these Olympics, and the most interesting moment came while the women were celebrating on the ice. The house camera cut to a shot of the other Team Canada, which had been watching the game from a private box. The Canadian men looked tense, almost incapable of fully enjoying the party. I think it was because they knew that, on Sunday, their entire nation expects things to play out the same way.

    Here’s a timeline (in photos from press row) of what transpired after the Canadian women won their third straight gold-medal game at the Olympics:

    Team Canada knew exactly who to mob — goalie Shannon Szabados, who delivered a brilliant shutout. They came at her with such force that they knocked off the net:

    Team Canada

    (Luke Winn/SI)

    Canada’s “Own The Podium” campaign would probably like to count these golds individually rather than as a group, but either way, it was a moving medals ceremony, with captain Hayley Wickenheiser receiving one of the better ovations:

    Canada

    (Luke Winn/SI)

    The Canadian flag was raised as the host nation moved into a tie with the U.S. and Germany for most golds at these Games (eight):

    Canada

    (Luke Winn/SI)

    Canada Hockey Place exploded — literally — after O Canada was over, as pyrotechnic cables that had been lowered from the rafters set off fireworks:

    Fireworks

    (Luke Winn/SI)

    And finally, Team Canada moved toward the middle of the ice to celebrate (and pose for the customary post-title photos):

    Team Canada

    (Luke Winn/SI)

    Canada 2, U.S. 0, 25 minutes after the game: No one wants to leave this place. All of Team Canada is still on the ice, long after the medals ceremony and playing of their national anthem. They’re posing for pictures and soaking up what has to be the greatest moment of their sporting lives — the first goal medal by a Canadian hockey team on its own soil. Szabados is skating around the ice with a Canadian flag — with the maple leaf in gold — draped over her back. Fans are pressed up against the boards, taking shots with their digital cameras. The P.A. just announced that official Olympic champs merchandise is now available in the arena’s store, but even that shameless commercialism can’t spoil this golden moment.

    Canada 2, U.S. 0, final: The Americans are gritting their teeth through this medal ceremony; after winning silver in Salt Lake City, and bronze in Turin, they weren’t willing to settle for anything other than gold in Vancouver. They received their first audible “U.S.A.” chant while the silvers were going around their necks — but most of the people chanting were Canadians just trying to be nice. Not sure if that would’ve happened had the Americans won gold.

    Canada 2, U.S. 0, final: Celebration segues into K.C. & the Sunshine Band’s Get Down Tonight as the Canadian party rages on, with cowbells ringing, flags waving, and Team Canada players piled atop each other behind their net. They just passed out sheets announcing the Olympics All-Star team: Canada’s Szabados at goalie; Americans Angela Ruggiero and Molly Engstrom at defenseman; Canada’s Meghan Agosta and Marie-Philip Poulin, and the U.S.’ Jenny Potter at forward. Agosta was chosen as the overall MVP.

    Canada 2, U.S. 0, final: Mob scene on goal! The buzzer sounds and the entire Team Canada — even those who were on the bench — stampede toward Szabados, who went 28-for-28 in save opportunties. The crowd explodes, giving indication that this is by far Canada’s most cherished gold medal to date. And the first song that comes over the speakers? Celebration, by Kool & the Gang. An improvement on Katy Perry, at least.

    Canada 2, U.S. 0, one minute to play in the third period: The U.S. can’t even seem to muster a final-minute frenzy here, failing to get any good scoring chances on Szabados. Fans are starting to stand in anticipation of Canada winning its third straight gold medal in women’s hockey. In front of my press row seat, there’s a Canadian girl wearing a hat with antlers on it, holding up a cheap Canadian flag, and going insane.

    Canada 2, U.S. 0, 5:10 left, third period: When they showed members of the men’s Team Canada (from a skybox) on the scoreboard a few minutes ago, they received decent applause. But a guy who’s still huge up here, Michael J. Fox, just popped up on the screen while Back to the Future music played, and the crowd went nuts. Fox appeased them by jersey-popping the “Canada” on his Roots t-shirt. Well done.

    • The house music guy here started strong, but has been slipping. The song titles I’ve written down, from pregame ’til now:

    1. Postal Service’s Such Great Heights
    2. Talking Heads’ Burning Down The House
    3. The Darkness’ I Believe In A Thing Called Love
    4. Guns ‘N Roses’ Welcome to the Jungle
    5. The Guess Who’s Hand Me Down World
    6. Shania Twain’s Man! I Feel Like a Woman!
    7. Katy Perry’s Hot N Cold

    (I’m not sure if this is the same guy who played Phish’s Down With Disease during the U.S.-Switzerland game on Wendesday. Phishheads have been tracking all of the band’s “appearances” during the Olympics, and they’re already up to six.)

    Canada 2, U.S. 0, 8:39 left, third period: Dicey moment here when Canada’s Haley Irwin got free on a breakaway, put a wrist shot on American goalie Jessie Vetter — and then plowed directly over both Vetter and the goal, knocking it off its moorings. Potter did not take kindly to Irwin’s path, giving her a stick-jab near the head as she lay next to the boards.

    Canada 2, U.S. 0, 13:37 left, third period: The Americans’ best scoring chance just came by way of Monique LaMoureux’s left skate. She was moving across the top of the crease and deflected a Potter pass towards Szabados’ five-hole. But Szabados stopped it, just like she has with every other American shot this afternoon.

    • Random second-intermission note, with Canada leading the U.S. 2-0: The Norway hockey jersey has to be the most elusive item at the whole Olympics. I’ve been trying to pick one up and cannot find it anywhere; as far as I can ascertain, the official store at Canada Hockey Place was the only place stocking the “NORGE” gear, and they’ve sold out of the official tops. The only things left are sweatshirts.

    (Earlier this week in Whistler, I asked a Norwegian guy I met if he knew some secret place where the hockey jerseys could be acquired. He had come to the Olympics solely to see biathlon and cross country, and said to me, “Why would you want a Norge hockey jersey? We suck!”)

    Norge

    (Luke Winn/SI)

    Canada 2, U.S. 0, second intermission: The sea of red in the stands came to its feet as the last few seconds of the second period ticked down, with plenty of fans holding up mass-produced signs that say “Hockey is Canada’s Game.” Hard to argue with that after watching the first 40 minutes, which have been dominated by Canada’s D. Former Team Canada player (and gold medalist) Cheryl Pounder was just interviewed on the scoreboard, and got her biggest roar out of the crowd when she said, “Our goaltending is absolutely amazing.”

    Looks like Canadian coach Melody Davidson made the right call by putting Szabados, a 23-year-old Albertan, in net rather than Kim St-Pierre. The Americans hold a 21-to-18 shot advantage, but it hasn’t mattered.

    Canada 2, U.S. 0, 3:20 left, second period: I’ve just been told that American forward Erika Lawler, who’s only 5 feet tall, is nicknamed the “Five Foot Fury.” Love that. Now, can we get her to pose with 6-foot-8 Slovakian defenseman Zdeno Chara in the style of the classic SI Manute Bol-Muggsy Bogues photo? I’d also like to see the Americans score a goal here, but there’s been very little fury in their attacks.

    Canada 2, U.S. 0, 15:02 left, second period: Canada’s penalty-killing trios have to be the greatest in the (short) history of women’s hockey. They just killed their second 5-on-3 of the game, after Becky Kellar and Jayna Hefford went into the box on back-to-back delay of game penalties. It was an unreal stand, with the U.S. only getting off one halfway-legit shot on goal during the 1:38 they had a two-man advantage.

    (The two lines the Canadians used during that stretch were Wickenheiser, Caroline Oullette and Catherine Ward, and then Ward, Sarah Vaillancourt and Cherie Piper. Ward has been just as huge in this game for Canada as Poulin and Szabados have.)

    • Something I considered during the intermission at Canada Hockey Place, where there’s a concession stand serving $5 paper bags of beignets (tiny fried donuts, for the uninitiated): Given that my last full meal was was a 2 a.m. cup of poutine (fries, gravy, cheese curds) at the Vancouver non-health-food institution Fritz’s, would I risk death by following that up with a beignet lunch? I couls see the C.O.D being listed as “French-Canadian Coronary.”

    (By the way, this is what beignets look like:)

    Beignets

    (Luke Winn/SI)

    (And this is what poutine looks like:)

    Poutine

    (Luke Winn/SI)

    Canada 2, U.S. 0, first intermission: The two netminders were complete opposites in the first period: Canada’s Szabados stonewalled the U.S. with some fantastic glovework, particularly in the section where the Americans didn’t capitalize on the 5-on-3. They might want to test her stick side in the next 40 minutes. Vetter, meanwhile, gave up two gloveside goals on one-timers by Marie-Philip Poulin. The 18-year-old now has five goals in these Olympics, and could become a major national star after this performance on home soil.

    (They just put 37-year-old speedskater Clara Hughes, Canada’s most-decorated Olympian, up on the scoreboard for an interview, and she didn’t even receive as huge of an ovation as Poulin has twice today.)

    Canada 2, U.S. 0, 3:10 left in first period: It’s been a sad first period for the Americans. In a 4-on-4 situation, Poulin scored on yet another glove-side one-timer, with the feed coming from Agosta.

    Canada 1, U.S. 0, 6:05 left, first period: Poulin, who’s been called “the female Sidney Crosby,” scored on a one-timer from Jennifer Botterill to put the Canadians on top. The goal came just after they weathered a 5-on-3 power play by the U.S. Everything is going in Canada’s favor right now — the score, the momentum, and the crowd. The lower level here at Canada Hockey Place seems like it’s 80 percent Canadians in red.

    (That was Canada’s 47th goal in this Olympics, which is the most ever scored by a women’s team in a single Games.)

    8:39 left, first period: Holy Szabados! The U.S. goes on a 5-on-3 advantage after Ward and Gina Kingsbury are sent to the box, but can’t capitalize, because Szabados keeps snaring shots out of the air. The host country makes it back to full strength.

    11:42 left, first period: U.S. defender Lisa Chesson is whistled for hooking, so Canada’s back on the power play. On their first shot that ensues, Vetter ends up on her stomach to make the save.

    13:54 left, first period: Huge save by Szabados — a fully extended glove save on a 2-on-1 break — to deny Monique LaMoureux of the first goal of the game. The Canadian-heavy crowd erupted (although not nearly as loud as they did during Welcome to the Jungle).

    • The Canadians win the faceoff, to chants of “Go, Canada Go!” The first real drama occurs when American Jocelyne LaMoureux has her helmet knocked off at around the 16:15 mark, and then Potter gets a penalty for hooking at 16:11.

    • Canada Hockey Place just went from sleepy to rowdy in the matter of a few minutes, when the house guy played Guns ‘n’ Roses’ Welcome to the Jungle and the two teams took the ice. It’s the loudest crowd at any event I’ve been at so far — even beating the Germans who cheered on women’s biathlon.

    I was disappointed they didn’t bring in this guy to do the pregame music, though. He was wearing a red, black and white Che sweater and ripping a mean version of O Canada on the street outside:

    Che Plays O Canada

    Che Plays O Canada

    This movie requires Adobe Flash for playback.

    • If you’re looking for a good preview of this thing, check out Sarah Kwak’s SI.com file from this morning, which says:

    When it comes to Canada-U.S. hockey rivalries, this one takes the cake. Forget the men’s teams and the juniors’ tournaments; the women’s rivalry makes the others look like petty schoolyard fights in comparison. With so many meetings — and so many of great importance — they were bound to cultivate a great deal of bad blood and animosity. Of the 15 World Championship and Olympic gold medal games, the U.S. and Canada have met in all but one. They are so much more talented and skilled than the rest of the field, they outscored their opponents in this tournament by a combined score of 86-4 (40-2 for U.S. women; 46-2 for Canada). The U.S. may be two-time defending World Champions, but Team Canada has beaten their rivals in their last five meetings before the Olympics. The teams say they have a lot of respect for each other (which I’m sure they do), but when they hit the ice, respect starts to look a lot like hate. “Hate is a pretty strong word,” USA forward Jenny Potter says. “I would say dislike. But you know what? They’re great competitors, and it’s always a great game playing against them, and I love it. That’s why we play this game is for that competition and draw out the best in your opponent.”

    The Scene Inside:

    Canadian fans hung over the railings to snap pictures as their team emerged from the tunnel for pre-game warmups, led by the starter in goal, Shannon Szabados. There had been widespread speculation — at least among people who follow Canadian women’s hockey — over whether Szabados or St-Pierre would be in net, and it was kept secret from the media on Wednesday.

    Canadian Fans

    (Luke Winn/SI)

    I’ve seen about 3,000 people wearing Canadian flags over their shoulders like capes, but this was the first time I’ve seen a live re-creation of the Canadian flag using latex body paint:

    Canada Fans

    (Luke Winn/SI)

    The Scene Outside:

    Canada Hockey Place

    (Luke Winn/SI)

    People are calling this matchup of superpowers U.S. and Canada possibly the greatest — and most-attended — women’s hockey game of all-time. But the buzz on the streets near Canada Hockey Place is not nearly as intense as it was yesterday for the Canada-Russia men’s showdown, when I followed around the scalpers who were trying to sell lower-level tickets for as high as $1,500.

    I was just quoted $300 and $400 by two different scalpers on Georgia Street for lower-level seats, so it doesn’t looking like they’re able to gouge fans as much as they did on Wednesday. The saddest thing I saw outside was a mascot for a ticket broker service, which somehow wasn’t a form of the devil:

    Ticket Broker Mascot

    (Luke Winn/SI)


  • Published On Feb. 25, 2010 by lukewinn


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