Once all the post-mortems of the just-completed Olympic Winter Games in Canada are written, one major success will stand out above the others: Canada’s national effort to ensure the success of their athletes on the slopes and frozen surfaces of British Columbia. Say what you will about Canada’s “Own the Podium” initiative, but the bottom line is that it worked.
Canada previously hosted two Olympics: the Summer Games in Montreal in 1976 and the Winter Games in Calgary in 1988. At neither of these games did the host nation win a gold medal, results that led to snickering about Canadians wanting to be such great hosts that they refused to upset their guests by claiming the top of the podium in any one event, including national sports like hockey. Indeed, the Canadians were outstanding hosts this time, too, but they did not let that get in the way of a fierce determination to move up in the medal count.
Apparently, the third time is the charm. At the final bell, Canada had amassed more gold medals than anyone else, and had finished third in the overall medal count. The final event, the hockey championship against the United States, went according to some Hollywood script, calling for the hosts improbably to give up the tying goal just before time, while then fighting back in overtime for the game-winner from national golden boy Sidney Crosby. Canada went berserk, and the celebration began in earnest.