XIX Olympic Winter Games
The Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games saw the expansion of the Olympic program to 78 events with the inclusion of skeleton and women’s bobsleigh. Canada also fielded its largest team to date with 157 athletes and took home their largest medal haul ever with 17 – seven gold, three silver and seven bronze.
Canada ended 50 years of frustration and beat the United States 5-2 to win its first men’s hockey gold medal in 50 years. Completing a gold medal sweep of the hockey events, the Canadian women also avenged their loss in Nagano by beating the USA 3-2.
Jamie Salé and David Pelletier of Canada wowed the crowd with their emotional free skate to “Love Story” leading many to believe they were a cinch to win the gold. Mouths dropped however when the Russian pair of Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze were awarded the gold, leaving the silver to Canada. Salé and Pelletier eventually went on to be awarded gold medals along with the Russians after a French judge admitted that she had voted for the Russians as part of a vote-swapping plan under pressure from her federation.
Almost overshadowed by the media frenzy surrounding the figure skating fiasco was the bronze medal won by Beckie Scott in cross country skiing – the first medal ever to be won by not only a Canadian, but a North American in the discipline. Scott’s medal was not without its own controversy however. Later in the Games, the gold and silver medalists in her event from Russia failed drug tests leading to a long two-year battle by Canadian officials to award the gold to Scott. First presented with a silver medal in October 2003, Scott was finally awarded the gold in June 2004 – making her the only athlete in Olympic history to win bronze, silver and gold in the same race.
Canada’s flagbearer, Catriona Le May Doan, won Canada’s first gold medal of the Games in the 500m, defending her title from Nagano, and becoming the first Canadian to defend a gold medal in an individual event at an Olympic Games.
Olympic Oath (athletes): Jim Shea (skeleton)
Olympic Oath (officials): Allen Church (alpine skiing)
Lighting Olympic Cauldron: 1980 U.S. Olympic ice hockey team
Official Opening: President George W. Bush