As Team Canada makes their way back to the Great White North from Pyeongchang, South Korea, they will be welcomed back with overwhelming adoration and awe, after completing a historic Olympic Games. Canada claimed 29 medals, smashing its previous record of 26 at the 2010 Vancouver Games. With 11 gold, eight silver, and 10 bronze medals, the games left their mark in Canada, providing us with unforgettable stories and athletic accomplishments that will live on for generations to come.
The 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games were marked with many firsts. It was the first time the Snowboard Big Air competition took place in the Olympics. Despite dealing with a lower back injury, Québec’s Sebastien Toutant was able to beat his teammates Mark McMorris and Max Parrot by scoring a combined two-jump score of 174.25, making him the first male athlete to win a gold medal in the competition.
Freestyle Ski Cross, one of the more adventurous and hazardous sports featured in the Winter Olympics, made history for Team Canada. For the women, it was the first time a country won gold and silver in two consecutive Olympic Games. Kelsey Serwa of Kelowna, BC and Brittany Phelan of Mont-Tremblant Québec, who are not only teammates but roommates and best friends, went side by side down the treacherous ski cross track. They claimed gold and silver respectively, giving Canada’s 25th and 26th medals of the Games.
Many Olympic journeys are stories of battling adversity and overcoming the impossible. Saskatchewan’s Mark McMorris is one example. In late March 2017, while boarding in Whistler, BC with friends, McMorris hit a tree, suffering debilitating, nearly fatal injuries. From a fractured jaw and left arm, to a ruptured spleen and collapsed left lung, Mark was fighting for his life, unlikely to ever compete in snowboarding again. But only 11 months after the accident, Mark overcame the adversity to compete in Pyeongchang, far exceeding expectations. In the Men’s Snowboarding Slopestyle event, McMorris defeated the odds by capturing his second consecutive bronze medal, creating one of the greatest comeback stories in Canadian Olympic history.
Canadian short track speed skater Kim Boutin faced her own adversity at these Olympic Games. After initially finishing fourth in the 500-metre Short Track final, she was eventually awarded the bronze medal following the disqualification of South Korean speed skater Choi Min-jeong. Normally winning an Olympic medal brings immense joy and pleasure, but for Boutin, it resulted in a flurry of negative comments and death threats from South Korea. She was forced to delete all her social media accounts. While frightening, she turned this moment of adversity into motivation for adding to her medal total at the Games. Boutin claimed silver in the 1000 metre and bronze in the 1500 metre Short Track Speed Skating, making her the most decorated athlete at Pyeongchang in the sport.
Perhaps the greatest accomplishment for Canada during these Games was in figure skating. The Canadians dominated by taking home four medals; bronze in Pairs and Ladies and Gold in the Team Event and Ice Dance. Meaghan Duhamel and Eric Radford won their first Olympic medals in the Pairs by taking home bronze. Kaetlyn Osmond became the sixth Canadian woman in figure skating history to get an Olympic medal. But it was Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir who became the darlings of this Winter Olympics, putting together an expressive, sensual performance in the free skate to capture their second gold in three Olympic Games. Not only did they each win their second gold of the Games but they smashed the ice dance world record, ending a career of remarkable dominance in the sport.
All in all, it was a successful Games for Team Canada. While we may not have medaled in curling and only got silver and bronze in women’s and Men’s Ice Hockey respectively, our athletes shined under pressure and brought Canadians from all walks of life together from coast to coast in order to celebrate athletic excellence and national unity. While the Olympic flame will go out in Pyeongchang, symbolizing the end of the Olympics, it will burn forever in the hearts and minds of Canadians.