It’s a good thing that Canada won it’s first gold medal on home soil before in the first four days of competition, because otherwise it might have been overshadowed. That’s because Canada’s big boys finally hit the ices today.
The men’s hockey team begins it’s quest for redemption. Even though its game today is against Norway — a country that has lost its previous three Olympics meetings with Canada by a combined score of 29-3 — don’t think for a second it won’t be the centre of media attention. Considering the time that SportsCentre dedicated to breaking down the lines that Mike Babcock and company had working together during yesterday’s first practice (said TSN’s Bob McKenzie: “It’s what we do.”) you can expected that the distance skaters, skiers and snowboarders might slip a wee bit under the radar.
The men’s hockey team might not be benifiting from the biggest home-ice advantage. The Vancouver Olympic/Paralympic Centre, the site of the curling events, seats less than 6,000 fans. Considering that Rexall Place in Edmonton was jammed for the Olympic trials back in November, the building is sure to be sold-out for every draw. (Factor in that the consortium’s broadcast trio is the all-star unit of Vic Rauter, Linda Moore and Ray Turnbull, the TV ratings will likely be at an all-time high.)
Even though we all have a fascination will the medal count, the four golds available in hockey and curling are the four that Canadians covet the most. The Olympics for so long were all about the amateur athletes who get their chances to perform on the grand stage once every four years, but with NHL players and curling on the Olympic program since 1998, Canadians can watch their two favorite winter sports with the greatest prize at stake.
So as much as we’ll be watching the likes of Kevin Martin, Cheryl Bernard, Sidney Crosby and others from here on in, try not to ignore the other Canucks going for gold. Because after all, that’s where the majority of the medals will come from.