The Winter Olympics have always been Canada’s better edition of the games, finishing consistently in the top five of the medal leaderboard over the last few Olympic years. In particular, Canada’s exploits in sports such as speed skating, figure skating and hockey have captivated audiences across the country and sealed these athletes’ reputations as being among the best Olympians Canada has ever produced, summer or winter.
In a previous article, we focused on the most memorable individual athletes Canada has ever seen at a Winter Games; many of whom were speed skaters. This time, we will focus on the most memorable performances in Canada’s Winter Olympic history. Some of them are also short track speed skaters; however, a number of teams from other sports represent some of Canada’s greatest ever Olympic performances, period. In particular, Canada’s hockey and bobsled teams have produced dazzling showings that led to them gold in style. Some would go on to repeat gold medal victories in other events in subsequent Olympic years; others would only compete once but would use their opportunity to their advantage, even if their success was mired by a judging scandal, in the case of Jamie Salé and David Pelletier.
The Sochi Olympics are over, but the memories of Canada’s performances – such as the second straight gold medal victory of bobsledders Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse – will not soon be forgotten by those who watched with passion and admiration from beginning to end. All in all, this top 10 list reflects some of the best of the best that Canada has produced in the winter games, and have helped solidify Canada’s reputation as one of the strongest Winter Olympic countries in the world – case in point, their first-place finish at home in Vancouver in 2010. Here are the top 10 best team efforts from Canadian athletes in Winter Olympic history.
10. Angela Cutrone, Sylvie Daigle, Nathalie Lambert and Annie Perreault in 1992
The Canadian women’s team in short track speed skating in Albertville in 1992 won one of only two gold medals captured by Canada during the entire Olympics. Angela Cutrone, Sylvie Daigle, Nathalie Lambert and Annie Perreault topped the podium after getting a final time of 4:36.62 in the women’s 3000m relay. Daigle and Lambert would medal again in the 3000m relay two years later in Lillehammer as part of that year’s team, but could only manage silver. Perreault would medal again in Nagano in 1998, winning bronze in the 3000m relay and gold in the 500m competition.
9. Pierre Lueders and David MacEachern in 1998
One of Canada’s six gold medals in Nagano in 1998 came from the bobsleigh team of Pierre Lueders and David MacEachern, who would finish with a total time of 3:37.24 in a joint gold-medal win with the Italian team of Günther Huber and Antonio Tartaglia, who finished with the exact same time down to the millisecond. Lueders competed again in 2002 and 2006, and in the latter he won silver in the two-man bobsleigh on a team with Lascelles Brown. Lueders, who is now coaching the Russian bobsleigh team, would retire following the 2010 games in Vancouver, where he failed to medal.
8. Guillaume Bastille, Charles Hamelin, Francois Hamelin, Olivier Jean and François-Louis Tremblay in 2010
With the 2010 games being held at home in Vancouver, expectations were sky-high for Canada’s homegrown athletes. Luckily for fans of short track speed skating, the men’s 5000m relay certainly did not disappoint. The men’s team of Guillaume Bastille, Charles and Francois Hamelin, Olivier Jean and François-Louis Tremblay took home the gold in that particular event. This would be one of three gold medals Charles Hamelin would win in his Olympic career, and the second for Tremblay. Hamelin would win gold in the men’s 500m that year, as well as in the 1500m competition in Sochi four years later.
7. Éric Bédard, Marc Gagnon, Jonathan Guilmette, François-Louis Tremblay and Mathieu Turcotte in 2002
The 2002 games in Salt Lake City were the second most successful Winter Olympics in Canadian history as far as medals are concerned, and one of the seven gold medals won by Canada that year was won by the men’s short track team of Éric Bédard, Marc Gagnon, Jonathan Guilmette, François-Louis Tremblay and Mathieu Turcotte. The five won the men’s 5000 m relay competition, being the second straight gold for Bédard and Gagnon in that relay, and one of two golds won by Gagnon in Salt Lake. As seen in the previous entry on this list, Tremblay would strike gold again in the 5000m relay in Vancouver in 2010.
6. Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue in 2010
Figure skating tends to be a sport that Canada does best in pairs, as individual figure skaters such as Brian Orser, Elvis Stojko and Patrick Chan have not finished better than silver in their respective Olympic years. But much like Jamie Salé and David Pelletier did eight years earlier in the pairs competition – more on them later – Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir struck gold in the ice dancing competition in Vancouver, becoming the first North American ice dancers to win the gold. Virtue and Moir would compete again in Sochi four years later, but settled for silver, falling short to Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White.
5. Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse in 2010 and 2014
To win even just one gold medal in the Winter Olympics is something winter athletes fantasize about putting on their resume, but to win two in the same competition consecutively is much more rare. For Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse, that’s exactly what they accomplished in the two-woman bobsleigh competition in 2010 and 2014, becoming the first female Olympic bobsledders to defend their gold. Humphries and Moyse finished ahead of fellow Canadians Helen Upperton and Shelley-Ann Brown for gold in Vancouver, and finished 10 milliseconds above the Americans four years later. For Humphries, such a feat resulted in her being named the flagbearer for the Canadian team during the closing ceremonies in Sochi.
4. 2002 men’s hockey team
After 50 years of hurt, the Canadian men’s hockey team finally won another Olympic gold, four years after they finished fourth following Marc Crawford shockingly not picking Wayne Gretzky for the semifinal shootout against the Czech Republic. In Salt Lake, no such mistakes happened: after just barely qualifying following a spotty round robin performance, Canada beat Finland and Belarus on their way to winning the gold against the host United States 5-2. Backstopped by Martin Brodeur and led by Mario Lemieux, Joe Sakic and Steve Yzerman, the Canadians won a gold medal in a feat that was previously matched by the women’s team earlier in the tournament.
3. Jamie Salé and David Pelletier in 2002
Following a nearly flawless routine in the pairs competition at the Salt Lake Olympics in 2002, Jamie Salé and David Pelletier were gobsmackingly given the silver medal initially behind Russian pair Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze, who had stumbled during their routine. However, there would be a twist: the French judge, Marie-Reine Le Gougne, was found guilty of having put the Russians first in return for a gold medal vote for the French ice dancing team, following pressure to do so from the head of the French Ice Sports Federation. After this went public, both the Canadian and Russian teams were given joint gold medals.
2. 2002 women’s hockey team
After having lost to the U.S. team eight times in a row prior to the Olympics, the Canadian women’s hockey team were out to get revenge. And revenge they got: after cruising nicely through the round robin and subsequent knockout rounds, the women’s team lead by Cassie Campbell, Kim St-Pierre and Hayley Wickenheiser beat the U.S. 3-2 in the final, erasing the pain felt four years earlier from losing to them in the gold medal game in Nagano. The gold would start a wave of successful defenses for the Canadian women’s team: triumphing again in Turin, Vancouver and Sochi.
1. 2010 men’s hockey team
Following the third consecutive gold medal victory of the women’s team just three days prior, the pressure was on the men’s team to repeat more than any other team Canada had iced in the past – if only because this time, it was at home. After initially losing to the U.S. in the round robin 5-3, Canada would meet them again in the final. The game itself was enough to give someone a heart attack: with Canada holding on to a 2-1 lead in the dying seconds of the third period, Zach Parise tied things up with 25 seconds to go, forcing overtime. With a nation holding its collective breath, Jarome Iginla set Sidney Crosby up with an overtime goal that would bag the gold for Canada and send the country into absolute euphoria. Four years later, Canada would repeat what they did in Vancouver, albeit by a more decisive score of 3-0 over Sweden.