Canada delivers in Pyeongchang

The Canadian Press

PYEONGCHANG–Canada did not figure into the medals on the final day of competition at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, but its athletes were all smiles yesterday as they marched in the closing ceremony en masse to the country’s best-ever showing at a Winter Games.
Canadians won a record 29 medals in Pyeongchang (11 gold, eight silver, and 10 bronze), finishing behind only powerhouses Norway (39) and Germany (31) in the overall standings.
Canada also finished third in gold medals, with Norway and Germany both topping the podium 14 times.
The Canadian Press had predicted 29 medals going into the Games, with a breakdown of nine gold, 10 silver, and 10 bronze.
The Canadian Olympians were represented at the closing ceremony by flag-bearer Kim Boutin of Sherbrooke, Que.
The 23-year-old short-track speedskater won a silver and two bronze in an impressive Olympic debut.
Canada had a chance to add to its record medal haul in four-man bobsled, as the sled piloted by Justin Kripps of Summerland, B.C. was in fourth place heading into yesterday’s final two runs.
Despite posting the best start times in each heat, Kripps’s sled finished sixth with a four-run time of three minutes, 16.69 seconds.
The German sled piloted by Francesco Friedrich, who tied Kripps for gold in the two-man bobsled competition, won the four-man in 3:15.85.
South Korea’s Won Yunjong and Germany’s Nico Walther tied for silver in 3:16.38.
“Really proud of the crew,” said Kripps, whose team included Alex Kopacz of London, Ont., his brakeman from the two-man competition, plus Jesse Lumsden of Burlington, Ont. and Ottawa’s Seyi Smith.
“They did their job extremely well,” he noted. “I thought I drove well, just little mistakes.”
Hamilton’s Nick Poloniato, Cam Stones of Whitby, Ont., London’s Josh Kirkpatrick, and Ben Coakwell of Moose Jaw, Sask. finished 12th (3:17.81).
Chris Spring of Priddis, Alta., Calgary’s Lascelles Brown, and the Edmonton duo of Bryan Barnett and Neville Wright wound up 16th (3:17.96).
The race marked the end of the line for both Lumsden, a former CFL player who took up bobsled ahead of the 2010 Games in Vancouver, and Brown, who competed at every Olympics since 2002.
“It’s going to take a while for it to sink in but the goal when I came back was to help the team get on the podium,” said Lumsden, who took two years off ahead of Pyeongchang before returning to the national team in 2016.
“It would be nice to have a medal to hang around my neck.”
The only other event yesterday featuring Canadian athletes was the women’s 30-km cross-country ski mass start.
Emily Nishikawa was the top Canadian in 30th in the event won by Norwegian legend Marit Bjoergen.
It was a bit surprising that no other Canadian athletes were in action on a day that also boasted the women’s curling and men’s hockey final.
But the Canadian men’s hockey team was upset by Germany in the semi-finals while Ottawa’s Rachel Homan was eliminated in the preliminary round of the women’s curling competition.
The upstart Germans pushed a team of Russians competing under the Olympic flag to the brink, finally losing 4-3 in overtime and claiming an unexpected silver.
Canada rebounded for bronze with a 6-4 win over the Czech Republic on Saturday.
Sweden beat South Korea 8-3 in the women’s curling final as Canada finished the Games without a medal in team curling.
Another medal would have just been added value for the Canadians, who surpassed the previous high of 26 overall medals won at the 2010 Games.
Canada had a strong representation from its 225 athletes, its largest at a Winter Games, at the closing ceremony.
The throng of Canadian athletes–dressed in red Canadian jackets and tuques–were among the first to enter Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium, with several smiling, dancing, or holding up a medal for all to see.
Figure skater Kaetlyn Osmond hopped up on another athletes’s shoulders to get a better view of the proceedings.
While Canada set a national record for combined medals at a Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, eclipsing the 26 won at home at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, it did not match the 14 gold Canada won there.