For two weeks in February, a year ago, we were the best.
Oh, we cried with Joannie Rochette. We shared the pain with Melissa Hollingsworth, a clearly-shaken Canadian luger who fizzled when she was expected to shine.
We too mourned for the Georgian luger.
And, perhaps, we might have winced when one of the four Olympic cauldrons experienced erectile deficiency, failing to rise from the floor of B.C. Place during the Opening Ceremonies.
But we hoisted a jug of suds with Jon Montgomery. We blushed when short track speed skater Marianne St-Gelais smooched with boyfriend Charles Hamelin, himself a short track star, after winning silver. We celebrated and felt genuinely delighted for long track speed skater Clara Hughes — one of the nicest and most engaging people in sports — when she won a bronze medal in her last race.
But most of all, for 14 days, we felt positively giddy, awash with Pacific, Atlantic, Prairie and, yes, Quebec pride with a golden surge.
Granted, the Yanks won more medals, and so did Germany.
But we had the most gold.
Of all the highs and lows — and there were plenty of both — the crowning achievement of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics undoubtedly came about a year ago Monday, with the greatest goal ever scored on Canadian ice.
For this correspondent, who spent nearly three weeks in Vancouver last year, there is an abundance of memories from the 2010 Games treasure chest, and strangely enough, not all of them sports-related.
To see an entire population, most of whom decked in red and white, celebrating in the streets morning, noon and night, seven days a week, is something to behold.
There was the excitement within the short track venue, the sheer marvel at the speed of which the long track skaters reached at the Richmond Oval, the anticipation of Rochette skating her short program while still mourning her mother’s death, the admiration for the ski jumpers flinging themselves off a hill, and the beauty and elegance of Whistler.
The curling even provided a memory, though it might be said I’d had my fill of that game from Torino four years earlier.
And besides, could watching a team of Newfoundlanders win Olympic gold ever be surpassed?
An Olympic experience elicits an array of memories from the collection of those who were there, but for one, topping the Sidney Crosby goal is a point in time — like the 2006 curling gold medal in Italy — never to be forgotten.
Funny thing is, it’s a game I quite nearly missed.
Like the figure skating finals, the gold-medal men’s hockey game is the hottest ticket of any Winter Games.
From a media perspective, those events tend to draw reporters who might not necessarily be covering the event, but rather are interested in attending for the sake of attending.
So a pool of tickets is created. In addition to media credentials, reporters also require a special media ticket.
Despite covering a handful of round-robin and playoff games for a number of different newspapers — I was writing for Transcontinental papers in Atlantic Canada and Saskatchewan — I was out of luck for a ticket.
Sorry, but too bad for you.
Fretting in the Main Media Centre about an hour before the drop of the puck, a call came from the Canadian Olympic Committee. An extra ticket had been found.
A short walk, and a few subway stops later, I was at Canada Hockey Place and my usual seat 17 rows from the ice, just inside one of the bluelines (at Olympic Games, media seating is amongst the spectators, often times taking the best, and most expensive, seats oddly enough).
Crosby steps up
It’s said the best — in a sporting sense, at least — usually rises to the top when it matters most, so it should be no surprise it was Crosby who would find a way to win it for Canada.
Anyone else who smacked the puck, and Ryan Miller makes another save for the Americans.
Crosby wasn’t Canada’s best player in that game, or that tournament. That honour belonged to Jonathan Toews, though Ryan Getzlaf, for my money, might have been the most dominant forward with a potent combination of skill and physical play.
It’s not so much the goal I remember — and wouldn’t you know, it came about at the other end of the rink from where I sat – but the release of nervous energy from 17,000 strong, a red-and-white explosion of sorts.
The electricity felt in that building for two-plus hours is unlike nothing I had ever experienced, or probably ever will.
A day or two before that gold medal showdown, my friend Stephen Brunt of the Globe and Mail had suggested the best column from the game would not be born within Canada Hockey Place, but outside with the thousands gathered around the building and Molson Hockey House.
He was probably right. On the other hand, watching an Olympic final between Canada and the States on Canadian ice promised to be something akin to a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Hard to believe it’s been a year since Vancouver. Regardless which channel you turn on, there’s a reflection of the 2010 Vancouver Games, and the lasting memories.
But this is Canada, and around here, it’s hockey that matters.
So really and truly, we all know which of the Olympic memories that everyone, well, remembers.
The one they call the ‘Golden Goal’.
Robin Short is The Telegram’s Sports Editor. He can be reached by email firstname.lastname@example.org