February 27, 2006
Our pride
A tribute to the athletes behind Canada's best Winter Games
ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

ALL HAIL QUEEN OF THE GAMES

Winnipeg's Cindy Klassen was unstoppable at these Games, medalling in all five events she entered. Canada's most decorated Olympian, who stirred up a little controversy after turning down an opportunity to be flag-bearer during the opening ceremony, was the obvious choice to haul the Maple Leaf in yesterday's closing ceremonies. At 26, she expects to be stronger in Vancouver 2010.

GOLD

LONG-TRACK, 1,500

WON FEB. 22, 2006

SILVER

TEAM PURSUIT

WON FEB. 16, 2006

SILVER

LONG-TRACK, 1,000

WON FEB. 19, 2006

BRONZE

LONG-TRACK, 3,000

WON FEB. 12, 2006

BRONZE

LONG-TRACK, 5,000

WON FEB. 25, 2006

- - -

ALL HEIL JENNIFER, MASTER OF MOGULS

Spruce Grove product Jenn Heil got Canada off to a great start in Turin with a gold- medal performance on the first day of competition. The 22-year-old freestyle skier didn't crumble under the pressure of being the favourite as World Cup champion. In fact, she made things a little easier on herself by winning the qualification run, setting herself up as the last to start in the 20-person final. Perhaps sparking all Canadian athletes to the country's best medal haul in Winter Games history, Heil nailed a 360 on the top jump and a backflip on the bottom of her run.

GOLD

FREESTYLE MOGULS

WON FEB. 11, 2006

- - -

HELPING HAND FROM NORWAY

In one of the most memorable Olympic moments of the Turin Games, a Norwegian coach handed Canada's Sara Renner, right, his ski pole after hers broke during an uphill climb. Renner made up a little time and, with a solid final push from teammate Beckie Scott, the Canadians grabbed the silver medal . The admirable gesture made by the Norwegian coach ultimately bumped his country out of a medal position, to fourth.

SILVER

CROSS-COUNTRY

TEAM SPRINT

WON FEB. 14, 2006

- - -

ALBERTA DUO IN SILVER BULLET

Pilot Pierre Lueders and Calgary brakeman Lascelles Brown both get a little teary-eyed after claiming the silver medal in two-man bobsled behind German rival Andre Lange. Lueders, the veteran pilot from Edmonton, took a backseat to Brown on the day because the Jamaican-born slider who only became a Canadian citizen less than a month before the Winter Games began. In fact, there was a time Lueders thought he'd either have to find a different brakeman or skip the two-man event altogether. The duo tried to add to their hardware in the four-man event but finished fourth, .09 seconds from third.

SILVER

2-MAN BOBSLED

WON FEB. 19, 2006

- - -

CALGARIAN HOLDS ON FOR EIGHT STRAIGHT

Melissa Hollingsworth-Richards thought her lengthy podium streak was over when she posted the second-best total in the skeleton with two sliders -- who had finished one-two ahead of her in their first trip down the 19-turn track -- still to race. Dreading a fourth-place finish, a common theme for Canada at these Games, the Eckville, Alta., product prepared herself for the worst. But when Germany's Diana Sartor came up shy in her second run, Hollingsworth-Richards went from feeling the heartbreak of medal-less fourth to the elation of an Olympic bronze medal and her eighth consecutive podium finish after placing in every World Cup skeleton event this season. It was a wild ride but the fact Hollingsworth-Richards married a professional saddle bronc rider probably helped.

BRONZE

SKELETON

WON FEB. 16, 2006

- - -

BEST FOOT FORWARD

Anouk Leblanc-Boucher of Prevost, Que., took third in the 500 by the narrowest of margins. She was about a toe-length ahead of Chinese skater Tianyu Fu when the competitors crossed the finish line.

BRONZE

SHORT TRACK, 500 METRES

WON FEB. 15, 2006

- - -

EXCITING CRASH COURSE IN SNOWBOARDCROSS

Dominique Maltais was part of one of the most exciting finishes in an electrifying snowboardcross Olympic debut. The Montreal firefighter crashed off course in the four-woman final but hiked back up to clear the gate she missed and finished the race in third for the bronze. Her teammate, Maelle Ricker, also fell but couldn't finish the race.

BRONZE

SNOWBOARDCROSS

WON FEB. 17, 2006

- - -

CALGARY CONNECTION

Calgarians Jeff Pain and Duff Gibson won silver and gold, respectively, in the men's skeleton. It was nearly a local sweep but their teammate and fellow Calgarian Paul Boehm was bumped to fourth after Gibson's winning run. The one-two finish was still a storybook ending for the two pals, who room together on the road and have overcome a rift in the friendship.

GOLD

SKELETON

WON FEB. 17, 2006

SILVER

SKELETON

WON FEB. 17, 2006

- - -

SURPRISE STANDOUT

Canmore's Chandra Crawford is all smiles after coming out of nowhere to win gold in the women's sprint. The 22-year-old entered the event hoping for a top-30 finish but crushed her competition.

GOLD

CROSS-COUNTRY, WOMEN'S SPRINT

WON FEB. 22, 2006

- - -

CLARA'S HEART OF PURE GOLD

Winnipeg's Clara Hughes faced tough competition in the long-track 5,000 -- including Canada's medal-hungry record-breaker Cindy Klassen -- but left all skaters eating her ice chips in the distance event with a jaw-dropping pace on the final lap. Hughes had nothing left in the tank after the gutsy performance and collapsed on the infield, her skates still touching ice, to create one of the most poignant portraits of the Turin Games. Klassen took the bronze medal, her fifth and final neck piece of the 2006 Games but joined the affable winner atop the podium for an off-key rendition of O Canada that won't be soon forgotten by any Canadian who tuned into the broadcast. Hughes displays the golden Magic Maple Leaf that was hidden in the ice at the finish line.

GOLD

LONG-TRACK, 5,000M

WON FEB. 25, 2006

- - -

CAPPING OFF A COMEBACK

Francois-Louis Tremblay of Alma, Que., was publicly lambasted by his coach for skating poorly in the 1,000-metre event a week earlier. Somehow, he found the strength to finish second in the 500, then help his teammates win silver in the 5,000 relay. Tremblay, who was a big part of Canada's gold medal-winning 5,000 relay team at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, deserves a lot of credit even making it back to the Olympics after being left off the national team for two years because of his steadily slipping performance. Two silvers should get him back on track.

SILVER

SHORT-TRACK, 500M

WON FEB. 25, 2006

- - -

GROVES FINDS GROOVE ON THE ICE IN ITALY

With a team pursuit silver medal already in her pocket, Ottawa's Kristina Groves was content with her fifth in the 1,000-metre event two days before adding to her elation in the long-track 1,500. Groves was bested by teammate Cindy Klassen but surprised many with her silver medal-winning effort. Another fine moment of these Games came when she and Klassen took a victory lap together.

SILVER

L-T TEAM PURSUIT

WON FEB. 16, 2006

SILVER

LONG-TRACK 1,500

WON FEB. 22, 2006

- - -

BUTTLE BATTLES TO CLAIM BRONZE

Maybe mountain climbing is something figure skater Jeffrey Buttle should consider. The Sudbury, Ont., product rocketed from sixth after the short program to a bronze in men's figure skating after a solid free skate. Buttle fell on his attempted quadruple toe-loop but many of his competitors struggled even more, giving the Canadian the opening he needed to make the momentous climb. The 23-year-old may have been a little more relaxed than usual for the free skate because of his position. Buttle said he never thought a comeback was possible so he skated the program for himself rather than for the judges. It worked.

BRONZE

FIGURE SKATING

WON FEB. 16, 2006

- - -

PODIUM STREAK ALIVE AND WELL

Kalyna Roberge, left, and Anouk Leblanc-Boucher of Montreal, Laval's Tania Vicent, Amanda Overland of Kitchener, Ont., and Calgary's Alanna Kraus used an aggressive strategy to keep Canada on the podium, where it has been since the women's 3,000-metre relay was first contested in 1992. Twice during the 27-lap race, rookie Roberge, 19, moved Canada to second from third with hard charges on the crowded track. All five skaters received medals, having pulled Vicent in favour of Leblanc-Boucher for the final after she missed preliminaries and the semifinal race.

SILVER

S-T 3,000M RELAY

WON FEB. 22, 2006

- - -

IN THEIR DEFENCE KOREA IS GOOD

After leading for much of the long-distance race, the Canadians -- Mathieu Turcotte, left, Eric Bedard, Francois-Louis Tremblay, Jonathan Guilmette and Charles Hamelin -- couldn't hold off Korea's Hyun-Soo Ahn, who capped the 45-lap spectacle by passing Turcotte on the last lap. The world champs didn't pout over the last-minute loss, though, and quickly paraded around with the Canadian flag held proudly. Taking some of the sting out of settling for silver might be Ahn's three gold and two bronze at these Games.

SILVER

S-T 5,000M RELAY

WON FEB. 25, 2006

- - -

ROCK SOLID

It took a rink from Newfound-land to give Canada its first Olympic gold in men's curling. Skip Brad Gushue, left, Mark Nichols, Russ Howard, Jamie Korab and alternate Mike Adam got off to a rocky start but peaked at the right time and dominated the final, winning 10-4 over Finland.

GOLD

MEN'S CURLING

WON FEB. 24, 2006

- - -

DAILY DOUBLE

Both the men's and women's long-track pursuit teams came up with great semifinal performances to advance to the gold-medal matchup in the new event. While they each came away with silver, there was no shame in losing to the home-team Italians and powerhouse Germans, respectively.

SILVERS

MEN & WOMEN'S LONG-TRACK TEAM PURSUIT

WON FEB. 16, 2006

- - -

HOUSE PARTY

After the Swiss edged Team Canada in their semifinal, Calgary's Shannon Kleibrink, left, Amy Nixon, Glenys Bakker, Christine Keshen and Sandra Jenkins, were determined to come away with a medal. They did just that with a powerful bronze-medal game, beating Norway 11-5 in eight ends.

BRONZE

WOMEN'S CURLING

WON FEB. 23, 2006

- - -

OUR GALS DO WHAT OUR BOYS COULDN'T

Everyone anticipated yet another gold-medal showdown between North American rivals Canada and the U.S. But the face of women's hockey changed when Sweden shocked the Americans in the semifinals. The Swedes, though, couldn't come close to duplicating their performance and upsetting the high-powered Canadians in the final, as Canada cruised to a 4-1 victory, successfully defending the Olympic gold they claimed in 2002 at Salt Lake City. Their dominance still can't ease the pain of the men's failure.

GOLD

WOMEN'S HOCKEY

WON FEB. 20, 2006