February 23, 2006
Sunrise surprise
Yesterday's first Canadian gold unexpected
TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

TURIN -- What a wonderful way for a nation to wake up.

It was breakfast back home when a fresh-faced, gregarious young woman nobody had ever heard of before was bouncing up and down on the podium with a gold medal around her neck. Chandra somebody.

The 22-year-old from Canmore spent the whole day bouncing up and down, including over an hour in doping control waiting to tinkle after winning the 1.1-km sprint in cross-country skiing.

"That was the second hardest thing I had to do," Chandra Crawford said. "I had to hold it. I had to pee so bad, but there was a big line in front of me and I had to hold it."

A couple hours earlier she didn't hold anything back.

"I was just aiming to make the top 30," she said. "I can't believe it. I'm so surprised. I started the day just hoping to be in the top 30 and now I've won!"

Claudia Kuenzel of Germany won the silver, Alena Sidko of Russia the bronze, with Canadian Beckie Scott fourth in the four-woman final.

If Jenn Heil was considered unusual for giggling and laughing on the podium after she won Canada's first gold of these Games, Crawford took it to a whole other level.

She had a smile on her face as big as all Alberta when she was introduced at the start line of the final. She had an even bigger one as she came home, not just in the lead but with a massive lead.

She literally jumped up on top of the podium when it came her turn, pulled her right arm down in a pumping motion, bounced, threw both arms in the air and shouted "whoo!"

"I couldn't help myself," she said. "It was so amazing to be there. It was fun. It was a real blast."

When they played O Canada, she sang it. You almost never see that either.

"I thought for a second 'Should I do the French part?' " she said. "I had the French part in my head ready to go."

This is a girl who says she always cried watching Canadians on Olympic podiums.

"I have always cried when Canadians do well. It's much harder to watch, emotionally, than to be in it. This was a fantastic day for me. I barely experienced the Olympics, I was so totally focused to be the best I could be. I loved it that the best I could be turned out to be great."

Crawford started off competing in biathlon.

"It turned out I was a terrible shooter so I thought I'd skip the shooting thing," she said.

There were no mentions of Chandra Crawford in the Olympic previews of Canadians who had hopes of bringing home one of the 25 medals which is Canada's goal for Turin. But she won No. 16 yesterday.

Maybe somebody should have seen this coming. Her one and only podium appearance this season came when she finished third in Davos, Switzerland.

"I have only done six World Cup races, so every time I learn something," she said.

She went from 28th to 10th to eighth to third to Olympic gold medal. Try that for a rocket ride.

"I had room to go up. So I went up. And up and up."

She wore her grandmother's ring, complete with birthstones of all her family, on a necklace around her neck.

"It really symbolizes the structure of family. My aunt gave it to me. My grandma and grandpa would have been so proud of me."







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