By Alexis Brinkman, Staff Assistant, North Dakota Horizons
Well, the closing ceremony of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games wrapped up late Sunday night in a grand fashion. The ceremony included performances from Canadians Avril Lavigne, Michael Buble and Neil Young and appearances from Michael J. Fox and William Shatner. The Olympic flame was ceremoniously handed off to the mayor of Sochi, Russia, the host of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Viewers were treated to a sneak preview of what Sochi has in store for 2014, and I don’t think I have to tell you, I was left awfully excited!
But, before I get too excited about the 2012 Summer Games in London or the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, let’s recap what happened in Vancouver. What started out as some of the most troublesome games in Olympic history – terrible weather, the death of a young Georgian luger, and mechanical malfunctions during the opening ceremony – ended as an overall success for both host country Canada and the United States.
Canada finally overcame its home-gold drought with Alexandre Bilodeau’s gold medal in moguls. While Canada may have come in third in the overall medal count, they did in fact ‘own the podium’ with an Olympic-record 14 gold medals and the most at the 2010 Games. My favorite Canadian success story is that of figure skater Joannie Rochette. Rochette’s mother passed away unexpectedly just days before she was scheduled to compete. She decided to skate anyway, knowing it was what her mother would have wanted. All of Canada seemed to rally behind this impressive young lady as she somehow managed to earn the bronze medal before being completely overcome with emotion. But perhaps the most exciting success for Canada was that of its national obsession, hockey. Both the men’s and women’s teams skated to gold.
The Vancouver Games were the most successful winter games for the United States by far. USA finished with 37 total medals, a Winter Olympic record. We saw, among other things, the first U.S. gold medal in four-man bobsled since 1948, the first U.S. gold medal ever in the Nordic combined, an impressive performance by the U.S. Ski Team, a dominant, gold-medal-winning performance by snowboarder Shaun White, the comeback of Bode Miller, and speed skater Apolo Ohno win his eighth medal, a winter Olympic record.
All of our North Dakota athletes faired as well as or better than expected. Both the men’s and women’s hockey teams earned silver medals, second only to Canada. Monique and Jocelyn Lamoreaux both played great games in the women’s 2-0 loss to Canada. Former University of North Dakota hockey player Zach Parise scored a heroic, last second goal to force the men’s gold medal game against Canada into overtime before losing 3-2. Figure skater Mark Ladwig and his partner, Amanda Evora, placed 10th in the pairs competition, earning personal best scores.
Overall, the U.S. finished with nine gold medals, 15 silver medals, and 13 bronze medals. While I'll be happy to return to my normal sleep schedule, I am sad to see these Olympics end. Oh well, only 878 days until the opening ceremony in London! Perhaps I'll catch a flight across the pond and make the 2012 Olympic Summer Games the first Olympics I see in person rather than from my couch.