The perfect Canadian day: a gold medal, a hockey win and snow on the slopes – Metro US

The perfect Canadian day: a gold medal, a hockey win and snow on the slopes

VANCOUVER – A gold medal, a men’s hockey win and snow at Cypress Mountain: if Tuesday in Vancouver were a Johnny Carson routine, the question in the envelope would read, “Name three things Canada expected to see more of by now.”

Pioneering extreme skier Ashleigh McIvor, of Whistler, B.C., embraced woolly, white-out conditions at Cypress, soaring into Olympic lore as the world’s first gold medallist in the high-drama thrill ride that is women’s ski cross.

Races transpire on a course that’s like a motocross track on the side of a mountain. Four skiers bash elbows and catch massive air as they rip down a lane littered with huge jumps and turns. First over the line — McIvor, in this case — is the winner.

“I just felt really comfortable, and at home, obviously, and it’s a good atmosphere for me,” said McIvor, 26, who wore a dazzling smile during the medals ceremony before doffing her Canada toque for the national anthem.

“I was pretty calm the whole way through, and just looking forward to each run. I was like, ‘Let me go, let me go.'”

The victory gave Canada six gold medals, to go along with four silver and one bronze.

Hedda Berntsen of Norway won silver while Marion Josserand of France took the bronze. Kelsey Serwa of Kelowna, B.C., just missed making the final, but won the consolation final for an overall fifth-place finish.

Julia Murray of Whistler, B.C., finished 12th; Danielle Poleschuk of Winnipeg finished 19th.

Less of a thrill ride Tuesday but a relief nonetheless was Team Canada’s convincing 8-2 win over Germany which included two Jarome Iginla goals and a respectable performance from Roberto Luongo, taking over from Martin Brodeur as starting goaltender.

The victory delivers Canada to a much more compelling — and infinitely more challenging — must-win quarter-final Wednesday against Russia, which eliminated Canada from the 2006 Games in Turin with a 2-0 victory in the quarter-finals.

“It’s going to be intense,” said Canadian star Sidney Crosby. “We’ve got a tough game tomorrow (Wednesday). That’s a big rivalry, we all know it.”

Switzerland also won a squeaker Tuesday against Belarus, a 3-2 shootout victory, to get into the quarterfinals against the United States.

At the Whistler Sliding Centre, Canadian bobsledder Kaillie Humphries broke the track record to take the lead after the first two runs in women’s bobsled.

Humphries, from Calgary, and brakeman Heather Moyse of Summerside, P.E.I., led both heats at a top speed of 146.9 kilometres an hour. Calgary’s Helen Upperton, with Shelley-Ann Brown on the brakes, was fourth, just 42 one-hundredths of a second back in the 21-sled field.

The final runs go Wednesday.

Tuesday’s most emotional moment promised to be the competitive debut of Joannie Rochette, 24, of Ile-Dupas, Que., who is persisting in her bid for an Olympic medal despite the sudden death on the weekend of her 55-year-old mother Therese.

On the mountains of Whistler, Carlo Janka of Switzerland won the Olympic gold medal in giant slalom, followed by Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud and countryman Aksel Lund Svindal.

The top Canadian in the race was Erik Guay, 28, of Montreal, who finished 16th, followed by Whistler’s Robbie Dixon in 24th.

It was a disappointing showing, but nowhere near on the scale of the crushing blow delivered Tuesday to Dutch world champion speedskater Sven Kramer, whose bid to claim his second gold medal of the Games was derailed by an embarrassing coaching blunder.

Kramer, the world-record holder, finished four seconds ahead of South Korea’s Lee Seung-hoon in the 10,000 metres, but was disqualified for failing to switch lanes properly on the 17th of 25 laps, when his coach gave him the wrong instructions.

Kramer threw his glasses away in disgust when he learned the news.

“With two or three laps to go, I was looking at my girlfriend in the stands and she had her face in her hands,” he said later. “I thought, ‘This is not good.'”

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