Forget Own The Podium. They Own Our Hearts.

Olympics

Hayley Wickenheiser: OWNS IT!

Canada’s much-ballyhooed “Own The Podium” program to support its Olympic athletes has weathered tremendous criticism for falling short of expectations.

I can’t help but roll my eyes at all of this. You can’t build a development program overnight, and let’s face it: these athletes are obviously doing something right. Much was made of the fact that we had never won gold in Montreal or Calgary. Today, we have eight gold medals. And we still have curling and mens’ hockey to go!

Look, I never expect Canada to be overly dominant at any Olympics. The U.S. and various EU countries regularly kick our asses in the medal count: fact of life. We accept it. Remember, this is a nation that lost its Expos and hasn’t seen the Stanley Cup travel down Yonge Street since 1967. We’re used to not having it all in the sports realm. And that’s OK. We have a rich hockey history and public health care and we can boast that Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot (NOT DEAD!) all hail from here.

What was the point of this post? Oh yeah: CANADIAN OLYMPIANS WE LOVE, EH?

Clara Hughes

Olympics

Olympic Sport: speed skating

2010 result: bronze medalist in the 5,000-metre race

Why we love her: multiple medalist in Winter and Summer Games and therefore Canadian legend; wearing that scarf in the Opening Ceremonies that I still covet; her work to support Right To Play. Enjoy retirement, Clara!

Hayley Wickenheiser

Olympics

Olympic Sport: hockey

2010 result: GOLD, BABY!!! (Sorry about that loss, my American friends. It’s not personal. It’s just hockey.)

Why we love her: for leading Team Canada to victory in Salt Lake City, Torino and Van City; playing hockey with Swedish men; playing softball at the 2000 Sydney Games; being classy, tough and amazing. And a mom.

Joannie Rochette

Olympics

Olympic Sport: figure skating

2010 result: a bronze medal after last night’s stunning long program

Why we love her: we embraced Joannie with glowing hearts and tear-filled eyes when we learned of her mother’s sudden death in Vancouver, not long after her arrival to see her daughter in these Winter Games. And then Joannie skated the performance of her career. The elation of the Games has been tempered by moments like these – tragic reminders that there is so much more to life than winning.

Ashleigh Macivor

Olympics

Olympic Sport: Ski cross (new to the 2010 Games)

2010 result: GOLD!

Why we love her: for kicking ass in her race against Norway, France and Austria, and how she looked as surprised and astonished as the rest of us when she realized she’d won.

Ok, I’ll be honest. It’s been the women who have captured Canadian hearts at these Winter Games. But I’ll bring you one exception…

Jon Montgomery

Every Canadian girl's new boyfriend since last Friday (REUTERS)

Olympic Sport: skeleton

2010 Result: GOLD!

Why we love him: Jon is HOT! Also, for his unapologetic and unbridled excitement upon discovering that he’d won the gold. And for drinking a celebratory pitcher of beer on SportsCentre (special thanks to Andrew Bucholtz for responding to my Twitter plea for a photo) Also, Jon is HOT!

Jon Montgomery 1

Jon Montgomery 4

Jon Montgomery 3

Jon Montgomery 5

Jon Montgomery 6

PHEW! I’ll need a cool drink to deal with that glorious gallery of photos. Tell us who owned your heart in these Olympics, Canadian or otherwise.

9 thoughts on “Forget Own The Podium. They Own Our Hearts.

  1. Amen to all of the above. Loved Joannie even before she lost her mom because she’s not a teenaged stick in a discipline when it seems you have to be to win.

    Also love Kristina Groves (Silver 1500m long track speed skating, Bronze 3000m long track speed skating), who gutted out every event she competed in.

    And I have to mention the one who really captured my heart and got me into watching curling, Thomas Ulsrud of Norway (Gold or Silver, men’s curling, depending on the result of tomorrow’s game). Not only is he gorgeous, he’s got a great sense of humour and is totally relaxed – until it’s time for him to play. Then he’s got laser focus. While the talk of the tournament was Canada’s Kevin Martin and Britain’s David Murdoch, he quietly (or not so quietly, depending on how you feel about the pants) put together the best numbers of any skip in the tournament. And now I’m torn between rooting for him or for my country in the gold-medal final.

  2. Jon Montgomery is so damned hot. And awesome. Clara Hughes is practically my hero – don’t forget she’s the alternate for the ladies 5000m relay at the end of the Games, so we may see her one more time in Vancouver before retirement. Plus, Bee, you should love her all the more for these two reasons: 1) she has an extensive art collection and 2) brings her own French press and roaster with her everywhere she travels.

    Let’s not forget Kristina Groves, Jenn Heil, Christine Nesbitt, Marianne St-Gelais, and Maelle Ricker. And the fact that Canadian women have won 80% of the medals in Vancouver for Canada, despite representing only 43% of our athlete contingent. The one gender balancer: Virtue and Moir’s golden ice dance medal. :D

    Canada has a lot to be proud of in these Olympics, and we’re not done yet! The women curl for gold tonight, the men tomorrow and of course, men’s hockey. And don’t forget many more speed skating comps between now and Sunday.

    Yes, I have a glowing heart full of true patriot love. I’m the Olympics Number 1 Super Fan.

    Karen aka “Olympic Fever”

  3. On the US side, I’m really pleased about Johnny Spillane and Billy Demong in Nordic combined — 4 medals in a discipline where we’d never had a single Olympic medal before! (Also, they are both really cute and actually my age so I don’t feel dirty for leering.)

  4. I know he hasn’t won anything yet (gold or silver, depending), but seriously we need to give John Morris some love. That man is gorgeous. I can’t get enough of him.

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