Although we Canadians have collected a record (for us) number of medals this Olympic games, we have suffered a few heartbreaking and painful Olympic firsts.
- the first time the women’s curling team did not qualify for the playoff round since the inception of curling as an Olympic sport. I have to admit though, the South Korean women curlers were so impressive, cool calm and collected throughout their games.
- the first time both the men’s and women’s team have missed the podium in traditional curling (although we did capture gold in mixed doubles) Again, since the inception of curling as an Olympic sport.
- the first time (in five years) our women’s hockey team had to settle for a silver medal, although nothing to scoff at there. They were outplayed, although the officials could have been less biased in their calls.
These disappointing Olympic firsts are a result of many things in my mind. Canada has always been respected for its curling and hockey prowess, but obviously, other teams are catching up fast. It does not help that curling teams from around the world come to Canada to compete against the best for practice on the world stage. It also does not help that many of these teams are paying Canadian curlers to coach their teams. As for hockey, the USA and Canadian women’s teams have always been neck and neck, with all other teams lagging far behind. After 4 consecutive gold medals for the Canadian women, it was time for the USA to win one. No other team even comes close, but that may change too in the years to come.
The fact that the Canadian teams mentioned were reigning and repeated gold medal holders in their respective sports put an immense amount of pressure on them. All other teams strive to knock them off the podium. The German team celebrated like they had won the gold medal after beating Team Canada in the semi-final.
The fact that no current NHL players are on the men’s Olympic hockey teams weighs in too. In previous years Canadian and USA rosters were loaded with NHL players. The NHL chose to not allow their players to participate in the Olympics this time after the IOC (International Olympic Committee) refused to pay the players’ (considerable) insurance premiums and travel costs.
Day 13 of the Winter Olympics proved to be unlucky for Canadians in a few sports. However, there were a few great Olympic firsts to cheer about other days. Just as other countries are gaining respect in sports they were not historically known to medal for, Canada is too. More medals in figure skating and speed skating made up for those lost in hockey and curling in our total medal count. Here are a few of those awesome firsts:
- Canada has won the most medals in speed skating since its Olympic inception.
- John Morris and Kaitlyn Lawes won the first gold medal in mixed doubles curling
- Sebastien Toutant won the first gold in the snowboarding “big air” thriller
- first time Canada has won four medals in figure skating, two gold and two bronze
- first time Canada has won 29 medals at a winter games, previous record was 26
- first time Canada has won the third most medals in a winter games, (previous record was 4th) 9 behind Norway, one behind Germany (we were in second until the last night of competition when Germany won two medals in bobsled) and 6 ahead of the USA.
The time change (they are 14 hours ahead of us here in EST) was a bit annoying with these winter Olympic games held in PyeongChang, a first for South Korea. Sometimes it was hard to tell what was old news and what was new. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed watching all the talented athletes.
Well, maybe not the curling or hockey.