Best and worst of 2010 Olympics

Now that the Olympics are over, it seems like a good time to look back at both the good and the bad moments of the Winter Games.

After the first week, it seemed like the Olympics were going to be a dud. People were calling it the worst ever, and the Canadians seemed to be choking during their events.

But the second week gave us lots of memories, and captured the imagination of people across the globe.

With that said, here are the five worst moments of the Games, and the ten best.

Worst

5. The Opening Ceremonies: 75 per cent as good as other Opening Ceremonies

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Pretty much the entire opening ceremony can be here. It was long, the performances were horribly lip-synched, and it took Wayne Gretzky about two days to get to the outside cauldron to light the Olympic Flame. [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=nelly+furtado&iid=7916702″ src=”2/2/8/8/OLYMPICS_FEB_12_a64b.jpg?adImageId=10807484&imageId=7916702″ width=”234″ height=”351″ /]

Even Nelly Furtado’s butt couldn’t make the opening ceremonies that exciting (give her credit for trying though).

But the worst moment came when the big idea of having four giant pillars rise out of the floor so four of Canada’s greatest athletes could light the Olympic Flame at once. But one of the pillars didn’t rise.

So, we waited. And waited. And waited some more. I think they’re still waiting.

In the end, only three of the athletes were able to light the Flame.

But this was one of the main things people pointed to in the first few days when most they called it the Worst Winter Games ever.

4. Fence around the Olympic Flame

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This was one of the great decisions by the Canadian Olympic Committee. Let’s spend tons of money on a huge outside four-pillar Olympic torch that will be a huge attraction, but then put up a chain link fence around it so no one can actual take a photo in front of  the flame.

At least the committee reversed the decision, after about a week and a lot of media and public pressure. Who says they don’t learn from their mistakes?

The optics of the whole thing was brutal, and was one of the main stories of the first few days of the flame. Not good.

3. CTV coverage, announcers

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Look, I get it. Brent Butt is back with a new show. Even though I’ve seen the commercial about 200 times, I still don’t actually know what it’s about.

Regardless, that commercial is probably the least annoying thing about the CTV coverage and its announcers.

Personally, it seems to me that the TSN guys can’t wait to get back to Toronto. I’m sure Jay Onrait is tired of pretending to smile every time he talks to those three ditzy girls from E Canada. And do I really need MTV personalities talking about all the stars they’ve seen?

The announcing was brutal. In the first few days, it was excruciating to watch. As I wrote a couple of weeks back, it felt as they were trying to jinx the Canadian athletes.

It’s to the point that we watched more American coverage than Canadian coverage. I know a lot of other people who switched to other stations because of how bad CTV was.

Finally, the coverage by the Canadian was so bad that the Olympic committee had to put out a press release asking announcers to not hug Canadian athletes. (Read the story about it here).

It got better as it went along, but the CTV gang just didn’t have the knowledge to pull off some good quality television.

2. Luging accident

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It created a couple of small storms of controversy. There were debates about whether the luging track was too fast. Some athletes said making it easier wasn’t a good thing.

But really, the focus should have always been on Nodar Kumaritashvili, the Georgian 28-year-old luger who lost his life in a training accident the day of the Opening Ceremonies.

Whether it was because of the course, or driver error, the fact is a person lost their life training for a sport. That is something that should never happen.

1. Saying a course was a killer

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A few days after the accident, I was watching some downhill skiing. There were so many accidents, it actually became a story on its own.

During of the crashes, one of the announcers said “This course is a killer.” Followed by something among the lines of “And it’s killing their Olympic dreams.”

It was in bad taste, especially after what happen to Kumaritashvili the week before. Someone should have been suspended for that comment, but it didn’t even become news.

To me, this was the worst moment of the Olympics. What happened to Kumaritashvili was a tragedy, but it was an accident.

This was just stupid, and in really poor taste.

Favourites

It wasn’t all bad. As with most Olympics, the personal triumph stories that come out can be enough to make people cry. There were a few of those at these games. Here are the top 10.

10. Men’s ice hockey

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Yes, they won gold in a great overtime game. But there are always a few sticking points for me when it comes to men’s hockey. One is the fact that it’s NHL players. I find it harder to care about whether players making $7 million a year win a gold medal, versus someone who had to get a second job to pay for the extra training so they could have a chance to even compete for a medal.

Second is that it dominated so much coverage. On days when we won a few gold medals, the main story would still be the men’s hockey game, which has a disgrace for other athletes who have worked just as hard.

Finally, we lost one of seven games. With the way people were going on about how bad we were, you would think we lost all three round robin games. But in the end, we won six of seven! That’s a pretty good record.

If Canada had lost the gold medal, would it really mean any less? Would it have meant we weren’t the hockey superpower anymore? I’d argue no, since we won five of the last six world junior championships, we’ve been in the finals of six of the last seven world championships, and the Canadian women have won the last three Olympic gold medals. Losing one game wouldn’t make that much of a difference.

9. Record number of golds

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Canada has set several records at these Games. Canada has won more gold medals at these Olympics than it has at any other Olympics. Canada has also won more gold medals than any other country in winter Olympic history.

That’s pretty good, considering people were ragging on Canadian athletes after the first week for their “Own the Podium” strategy. Most people thought it wasn’t working.

A week later, we’re top three in medals, first in gold, and the envy of most other nations. That’s pretty good.

8. Gold, silver in same bobsled event

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In most events, Canada is lucky to win one medal. Every once in a while, we’ll get a silver and a bronze, or something like that.

But Kaillie Humphries, Heather Moyse, Helen Upperton and Shelly-Ann Brown did something I’ve never seen Canadians do. Win gold and silver in the same event.

It was a great thing to watch, and one of those moments I’ll remember for years.

7. Ashleigh McIvor

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She captured the spirit of the Olympics, and the hearts of many of the men.

Winning gold in downhill skiing. McIvor was one of those names that came out of nowhere, but everyone fell in love with. There’s always one or two like that, and this year it was Ashleigh.

6. Figure skating gold

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Here’s some words of advice for Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. In the next few weeks, you’ll be inundated with requests from advertisers.

Don’t do what Jamie Sale and David Pelletier did after 2002. They decided to wait a few months before making any decisions. By then, advertisers weren’t as interested. I think they advertised for Crest toothpaste, and that was about it.

Scott and Tessa, don’t do what they did. You’re two of the darlings of these Olympics. Sign those contracts in the next little while, or else you’ll be missing out on a lot of money.

5. Jon Montgomery wins gold

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It wasn’t so much the fact that he won gold that put Jon Montgomery in this spot, it was watching the celebration. It was exuberant without being over the top. He celebrated the same way many of us thought we would if we ever had the chance to win a medal.

He was excited. He walked around with a pitcher of beer. He was smiling the whole time. There were no pre-rehearsed answers during interviews.

Sometimes, you get winners where they don’t even smile that much. Almost like they have a “been there, done that” attitude, or they’re thinking of what their next goal would be.

Montgomery wasn’t like that. He seemed genuinely excited, and it showed. It made us feel like we were celebrating with him.

4. Bilodeau gold

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This was such a big moment because it immediately took so much pressure off the rest of the Canadian athletes.

For the past two years, every commercial talked about how Canada had never won a gold medal on home soil. If Alexandre Bilodeau doesn’t win that medal in the first few days, the pressure would have built every single day.

But Bilodeau won gold, and the rest of the Team Canada had a little less pressure.

Except for the men’s hockey team.

3. Curling domination

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So many people have been into curling at this Olympics, more than I ever remember hearing about.

Part of it has to do with the players that are there. There have been plenty of stories about how hot the players are (Bill Simmons has even gone as far to call Canadian skip Cheryl Bernard The Curlgar).

It also helps that because the Games are in Canada, the curling matches are on throughout the day, so more people tune in.

Finally, we had two different teams in the gold medal games. How could there not be lots of people loving it?

It also made for a great Olympic moment when everyone started singing O Canada during one of the men’s matches.

Isn’t it time for co-ed curling? This is probably one of the only sports when the men and women are on the same level. And it would be nice to have another sport where Canada dominates.

2. Women’s ice hockey

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One of the best stories of the Olympics, and way more important than the men.

Yes, I know the competition pool is shallower than the men’s, but the women dominated like no other team has during the Olympics. They outscored their opponents 41-2 in the round robin. In the playoffs, they outscored their opponents 7-0, including the 2-0 gold medal win against the archrival Americans.

In scoring 48 goals, they set an Olympic record for most goals by a women’s team.

And the best of all was their celebration, when they went back on the ice with cigars and beere. Yes, a lot of people were upset, but for reasons that make no sense.

The 1972 Canadian Summit Series team went back on the ice to celebrate with cigars and beer. Brian Kilrea, hall of fame coach, celebrated every single win with a cigar. As we mentioned, Jon Montgomery celebrated by carrying a pitcher of beer around the streets of Vancouver.

The only thing different is the gender. If the Canadian men’s hockey team celebrated their win with beer on the ice, no one would say much.

So I say the women don’t have any need to apologize. They’ve only done what so many have done before. And it’s improtu celebrations such as this that make the Olympics so much fun.

1. Joannie Rochette

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Easily the top story of the Olympics. Joannie’s mother died of a heart attack soon after arriving in Vancouver, and a couple of days before the skate.

Joannie decided to stay and skate, and did a great routine that full of emotion. She had the audience, announcers and television viewers in tears afterwards.

Even though she only won bronze, she was chosen to carry the flag at the closing ceremonies.

It took guts to do what she did, and to do it as good as she did. It goes down as the most memorable moment of the Games.

Agree or disagree? What was your favourite moment?

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