Golden at last: The Winter Olympics end on a high note

Written by Susan Mannella on .

What we will do now in the evenings? The great spectacle of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver has come to a spectacular end, which was its own triumph after all that had gone before.

Before joy there was sorrow. These games had not officially opened when a 21-year-old Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili, was killed in practice. If this was not bad omen enough, the shadow of tragedy also fell later upon Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette, who lost her visiting mother to a heart attack.

Yet Ms. Rochette took the ice and won a bronze medal. The games themselves showed their own pluck, overcoming uncooperative weather and other glitches to become a happier event. The exuberance of exceptional competition provided the tonic of a new story line and better memories.

The final touch of greatness came with Canada's 3-2 victory over the United States in the gold medal match. In a hockey-obsessed nation, the earlier victory of the United States over Canada set the stage for a classic game. It was that and more. When the United States tied the score with 24 seconds left in regulation, it was up to Sidney Crosby, favorite son of Canada and adopted marvel of Pittsburgh, to shoot and score in overtime to secure the home team's heart-pumping victory.

Even if Canadaians did not "own the podium" to the extent they had challenged themselves, all their disappointments would have been erased in that one thrilling moment. As it was, the Canadians finished with 26 medals, third overall to the United States and Germany, and 14 of them were of the best color, gold.

Although the Americans had only nine gold medals, the U.S. visits to the podium tallied 37 medals, the most for any nation in a Winter Olympics.

A games that began with somber black armbands ended with amusing inflated beavers and dancing comic-opera mounties -- and it seemed just right. Like so many who competed, the Vancouver Games rose above its troubles to triumph.

Thank you, Vancouver and Canada.


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