Winter Olympics Review: USA Wins the Medal Race with 37 Top Three Finishes at 2010 Vancouver Games

After two weeks of intense competition, the 2010 winter Olympics have come to a close. The US ended the Olympics with 37 medals overall (9 gold, 15 silver, 13 bronze), and Germany and Canada came in second and third place respectively in the overall medal count. The Canadians, however, broke the Winter Olympic gold medal record with 14 and won the much-publicized showdown against USA in the men’s hockey gold-medal match. So who won the games? Everybody has their own method for deciding.

For athletes Julia Mancuso of the US and Sven Kramer of the Netherlands, the Olympic experience had its ups and downs. Mancuso won silver in both women’s downhill and women’s super-combined, but did not medal in the giant slalom after taking gold in the event during the 2006 Torino Games. During her first run in this year’s slalom, Mancuso was stopped in the middle of the course because teammate Lindsey Vonn had fallen. In the giant slalom event, there are always two people on the course at the same time, a new racer beginning after the previous racer has been on the course for one minute. Even worse, the day of the giant slalom the weather was foggy and snowy with visibility reaching only four gates ahead. Manusco was allowed to redo her first run in lieu of the interference, but the mulligan was no good, and after the first run Mancuso was in 18th place. Her unfortunate situation made people question the Olympics’ judgment in continuing the event despite weather and having two people on the course at the same time.

Sven Kramer won the gold medal this year in the 5,000-meter speed skating event and was favored to win the 10,000-meter as well. Kramer was in the lead and on the verge of a record when his coach, from the sideline, told him to move into the inner lane. Kramer obliged and finished the race in first place. However, the judges determined that he had finished the race in an illegal lane. Kramer was disqualified and did not get a gold medal. Kramer’s incident raises questions of a knowledge gap between coaches, athletes, and Olympic committees. While both Mancuso and Kramer were upset about their inability to medal, they are both decorated Olympians that still had success in other events.

The women’s final figure skating event set a new level of Olympic talent. Korean Yu-Na Kim won the gold medal by skating an amazing long program that earned a score of 150.06. Her final score was 228.56, a full twenty points higher than silver medal winner Mao Asada of Japan. For a 20 year-old skater, Kim’s score was record-breaking, and her ability to land a triple-triple was more than impressive. Asada, also 20, had a good performance and in the end earned an overall score of 205.5, almost three points more than the bronze medalist, Canadian Joannie Rochette, who had a final score of 202.64. All three athletes had amazing performances that revealed the emergence of a new level of figure skating.

In the women’s short track speed skating, the US relay team was about five seconds behind the Korean, Chinese, and Canadian teams. However, due to a Korean pushing a Chinese skater, the Koreans—who had initially finished first—were disqualified. The Chinese received the gold medal, Canadians got silver medal, and the US ended up with the bronze. The leader of the US team was Katherine Reutter, who went on to earn an individual silver medal in the 1000-meter short track. Apolo Anton Ohno also received a bronze medal in the men’s 1000-meter and a silver medal in the 1500-meter short track.

The men’s hockey final pitted the US against Canada in an intense game that ended with a 3-2 overtime win for Canada. Canada dominated early, but after the first period the US stepped up its play and found a way to attack its opponent. With about 30 seconds left in the third period, the US scored to tie the game and force a sudden-death overtime.

After seven minutes of overtime, Canadian forward Sidney Crosby scored a goal on goalie Ryan Miller, giving Canada the win. Crosby came into the Olympic games as one of the key players for Canada. He had helped the Pittsburgh Penguins win the Stanley Cup last year, and again was able to lead his team to a big win, this time for an Olympic gold medal. This was the first Olympic hockey final that went into overtime since NHL players started playing for Olympic teams in 1998. A major difference between the US and Canadian teams was age and experience. This difference didn’t seem to affect the US until the gold medal game, in which the US’ athletic ability was visible, but their lack of experience showed. Until the gold medal game, the US had won all other qualifying games. Finland won the bronze medal with a 5 to 3 win over Slovakia. In women’s ice hockey, Canada also took the gold, beating the US 2 to 0. Finland also took the bronze medal in women’s ice hockey, beating Sweden 3 to 2.

The Canadians also managed to win the Men’s Curling gold to give them highest honors in two key Canadian pastimes—hockey and curling.

The 2014 Olympics will take place in Sochi, Russia and should prove to be another exciting Winter Games. Some of this winter’s athletes will compete in 2014, while others will retire after this year. This year’s Olympics had many unforgettable moments that have set the stage for a new Olympic level in the following years.

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