Vancouver 2010: Great Olympic Moments

Following a short trip, Team USA leads the medal count

Team USA athletes enter the Parade of Nations
Photo courtesy International Olympic Committee

Luger Mark Grimmette, a five-time Olympian, was Team USA’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony.

By Zach Miles

A short trip across the northern border and Team USA arrived ready to compete at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. The relatively short travel distance proved beneficial as Team USA’s 216 athletes led all countries with 37 total medals, including nine gold.

Speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno etched his name into the record books with his three medals at Vancouver while skier Lindsey Vonn won the only Olympic gold of her career in the women’s downhill.

There were several historic finishes. The U.S. bobsled team brought home a gold medal for the first time in more than 60 years. Evan Lysacek won the first gold by a U.S. male figure skater in more than 20 years. Bill Demong became the first American to win gold in Nordic combined. Legendary snowboarder Shaun White successfully defended his gold in the halfpipe with an eye-popping final run and alpine skier Bode Miller won the elusive gold he had chased for 12 years.

Apolo Anton Ohno becomes most-decorated U.S. Winter Olympian

Apolo Anton Ohno has his left hand on the ice as he makes the turn
Photo courtesy International Olympic Committee

Apolo Anton Ohno won one silver medal and two bronze, giving him eight career Olympic medals.

Entering the Vancouver Winter Games, speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno built a resume that included five Olympic medals. He knew that was one shy of speedskater Bonnie Blair’s record for the most medals won by a U.S. athlete in the Winter Games.

Ohno won the silver medal in the men’s 1,500-meter race to tie Blair’s record. 

Going into the 1,000, Ohno set his sights on breaking the record. He slipped early, but he fought back to win the bronze medal and capture his seventh Olympic medal. Ohno said he was not focused on the record and just wanted to leave everything he had on the ice.

My goal was to come out and put my heart and soul into the Olympic Games and I’ve done that,” Ohno said. 

Ohno wasn’t finished, though. He won another bronze in the men’s 5,000 team relay to finish his career with eight Olympic medals, an American record that still stands today.

Lindsey Vonn speeds to her first and only Olympic gold

Skier Lindsey Vonn turns around a gate
Photo courtesy International Olympic Committee

Lindsay Vonn showed no signs of a bruised shin as she won gold in the women’s downhill

Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn did not win a medal in her first two Olympic Winter Games. In Vancouver, she raced with a bruised right shin that she said made it painful even to walk. There was some doubt that Vonn would be able to compete in Vancouver ski speeds reaching 65 mph.

But with a blazing fast time of 1 minute 44.19 seconds, Vonn won the gold medal in women’s downhill by more than half of a second. It would be the only gold medal in her storied career.

A huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders now,” Vonn said following the event. “I got the gold medal that I came here to get.”

Men’s bobsled team breaks drought

Team USA pushes hard as the start of the bobsled run
Photo courtesy International Olympic Committee

The Night Train lived up to expectations and won Team USA’s first bobsled gold in 62 years.

Nicknamed the “Night Train,” the U.S. four-man bobsled team of Steven Holcomb, Steve Mesler, Justin Olsen and Curt Tomasevicz entered the Vancouver Winter Games as the top-ranked bobsled team in the world.

“We had a lot of pressure on us, but I think we put a lot of that pressure from within,” Tomasevicz said. “We expected to win on our own.

Holcomb, Mesler, Olsen and Tomasevicz won the gold medal by 0.38 seconds, Team USA’s first gold in men’s bobsled since 1948. 

Evan Lysacek skates to historic gold medal

Figure skater Evan Lysacek lands a jump
Photo courtesy International Olympic Committee

Evan Lysacek picked a great time to post the best score of his career.

It had been 22 years since an American male figure skater won Olympic singles gold until Evan Lysacek broke through in Vancouver becoming the first U.S. man to win gold in the event since Brian Boitano in 1988.

Lysacek scored a total of 257.67 points in the competition beating out 2006 gold medal winner Yevgeny Plushenko of Russia, by 1.31 points. It was the highest score ever for Lysacek, who had finished fourth at Torino 2006.

I couldn’t have asked for much more than that, to have my personal best in the most important moment of my life,” Lysacek said.

Incredible 24 hours for Bill Demong

Skier Bill Demong raises his arms as he crosses the finish line
Photo courtesy International Olympic Committee

Winning the gold medal was just the start of an incredible day for skier Bill Demong.

Bill Demong had competed in the previous three Olympic Winter Games, with his best finish a fourth in the men’s Nordic combined team event at Salt Lake City 2002. Team USA had never won a medal in any Nordic combined event.

That would all change at Vancouver 2010.

Johnny Spillane broke the ice by winning the silver medal in the individual normal hill 10km. Then Spillane, Demong, Todd Lodwick and Brett Camerota won silver in the team large hill 4x5km. Two days later, though, came a day for all time.

In the individual large hill 10km, Demong won Team USA’s first-ever gold medal in Nordic combined, beating runner-up Spillane by four seconds.

Shortly after the race, Team USA announced that Demong would carry the American flag in the Vancouver Closing Ceremony. That night at a party to celebrate, Demong popped the question to his girlfriend, Katie Koczynski, who became his bride-to-be.

I don’t remember too much – it’s been a whirlwind of a day,” he said.

Hannah Kearney finds redemption in moguls

Skier Hannah Kearney stays low as she goes through the moguls
Photo courtesy International Olympic Committee

With her trademark pigtails sticking out of her helmet, skier Hannah Kearney won gold.

Hannah Kearney was crushed when she failed to qualify for the finals of the women’s mogul skiing competition at Torino 2006. Four years later, though, at Vancouver 2010, Kearney enjoyed a completely different feeling.

The last skier to push off in the finals, Kearney enjoyed a perfect run to win Team USA’s first gold medal in the event since 1992.

It was redemption for my experience” in Turin, Kearney said. “I realized I could handle that speed.”

Speedskater Shani Davis earns historic back-to-back

Speedskater Shani Davis pushed hard down the stretch to win gold in the 1,000-meter race.

Four years after becoming the first Black American to win an Olympic Winter Games individual gold medal, Shani Davis achieved another milestone as he became the first male speedskater to win consecutive gold medals in the 1,000-meter race.

Davis had skipped the 500-meter race earlier in the week to focus on the 1,000, a distance at which he held the world record and had been undefeated that winter. He started a bit off the pace, but charged hard over the final 200 meters to edge South Korea’s Mo Tae-bum by 0.20 seconds for a victory that he called his most satisfying.

I would say it’s probably No. 1,” Davis said. “It means so much that I was able to defend.” He added, “Once you’ve become a world champion, an Olympic champion, you get this nice thing on your back called a target.”

Shaun White cements himself as Olympic royalty

Shaun White is mid-air on a jump
Photo courtesy International Olympic Committee

Shaun White soared through the air as he repeated as Olympic champion in the men’s halfpipe.

Snowboarder Shaun White backed up his gold medal at Torino 2006 with an even more impressive performance in Vancouver, winning the gold medal in the men’s halfpipe as U.S. teammate Scotty Lago claimed bronze.

Going into the final run of the competition, all White had to do was land a clean run to secure the gold. Instead of playing things safe, though, he put on a showstopper.

White came out and shocked the crowd with a double McTwist 1260 that he nicknamed “The Tomahawk,” a jump that consists of two flips and three-and-a-half spins. The finale on his already impressive night earned him a score of 48.4 out of 50 points on easily win his second consecutive gold medal in the halfpipe.

He did a dub-12 on his last hit, and no one else is going to beat that,” Lago said.

Skier Bode Miller completes Olympic trifecta winning his first-ever gold

Skier Bode Miller keeps his balance as he speeds down the mountain
Photo courtesy International Olympic Committee

Skier Bode Miller finally claimed Olympic gold, winning the men’s super combined.

Competing in his fourth Olympic Winter Games, alpine skier Bode Miller was determined to claim the one thing that kept his name from being forever etched in the history books: his first gold medal. 

In Miller’s first race in Vancouver, he won the bronze medal in the men’s downhill. He followed that up with the silver in super-G. That was just building up to the super combined, where Miller capped his 2010 Olympics with his first-ever gold medal. 

His gold medal slalom run is one that Miller will never forget.

The way I executed, the way I skied, is something I’ll be proud of the rest of my life,” Miller said.

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