28 February 2010

Whoa! Canada!

This is Roberto Luongo, the winning goaltender in one of the greatest hockey matches I've ever had the privilege to see.  It started as another one of those free-flowing, pretty games that typify modern Olympic men's hockey.  Canada went up 2-0 early in the second period, and the theoretically outgunned United States team could have mailed it in.  Instead, the Americans held their ground.  The third period seemed to be one long U.S. attack.  Luongo, playing on his home rink, held out until 24 seconds from time, when Zach Parise scored to force overtime.  Canada finally won on a Sidney Crosby goal set up by a stunning Jarome Iginla pass.  The Canadians earned their gold medal; and the fact that they even had to earn it speaks well of the American team.

Weirdly, and loosely, the trajectory of the Canadian men's hockey team in the Vancouver Games tracks that of the Games themselves.  (Reuters has provided a nice summary.)  The team started slowly, and its 3-1 preliminary loss to the same American team left us wondering whether it wasn't turning into one huge disaster.  With the weird weather, the glitch-marred opening ceremony and two devastating personal tragedies, we were also wondering the same thing about the Games.

But in the last week, everything picked up.  Actual winter weather rolled in.  Somehow, Joannie Rochette found the strength to skate.  (I sure as hell couldn't have done that.)  The Canadian hockey teams -- both of them -- shifted into gears no one knew they had.  (Beating Russia 7-3?  Whaaaa?)  The rest of the Canadian Olympians followed suit, racking up 14 gold medals.  (¡Catorce!)  And even that botched opening ceremony got fixed at the closing ceremony.

Nice recovery, Vancouver.  And congratulations from this American for that.

No comments: