College Candy Recap: Vancouver’s Big Winners

Last night, the Vancouver Winter Olympics ended with a flourish–including comedy from William Shatner, performances by Avril Lavigne and Nickelback, and yes, giant inflatable beavers. With the Olympic flame extinguished, and dreams of Sochi 2014 barely blooming, let’s take a look at Vancouver’s biggest winners.

Canada
The Canadians accomplished their two most important goals in Vancouver: to bring home gold, and specifically to win the men’s hockey competition on home soil. Alexandre Bilodeau broke the Canadian gold-medal draught with his win in moguls skiing early in the Games. But perhaps the single most important event in Canadian history was their win in the gold-medal hockey game over arch-rival the United States. In a nail-biting sudden death overtime, the Canadians broke through with the win and fulfilled the dreams of everyone young and old  in the hockey-obsessed nation. (Editor’s Note: And their hockey team is pretty damn hot.) And as if that weren’t enough, Canada walks away with the most gold medals–14–ever won by a single nation in the Winter Olympics.

US Nordic Ski Team
Johnny Spillane and Billy Demong led a record-breaking US contingent in Nordic skiing, winning medals across four events. Nordic events, which include ski jumping, cross country skiing, and biathlon, are typically dominated by Scandinavians, but Americans came from out of nowhere to steal podium spots. Spillane grabbed three silvers while compatriot Billy Demong won the first-ever American gold medal in a Nordic event, the Large Hill/10k pursuit.

Red Mittens
Who knew these little babies, originally sold for about $10 a pair, would spark an international fashion craze? Simple, iconic, and adorned with the signature Canadian maple leaf, they were perhaps the most sought-after accessory in Vancouver besides an Olympic medal.

Kim Yu-Na
Critics have hailed Kim Yu-na’s performance in the ladies’ figure skating competition as one of the greatest of all time. She was nearly flawless in her free skate and demolished any doubts about her skating supremacy as a Bond girl in her short program. Journalists and skaters around the world had wondered if the pressure of $9 million in endorsements and the hopes of the entire nation of South Korea (which had never won an Winter Olympic medal of any color in any sport besides speed skating) would be too much for teenage Kim, but she now gets to revel in the hype and the fame that are all very much fit for figure skating’s new queen.

Bode Miller
He was the face of the 2006 Olympics, with his hard-partying ways and high expectations for a dynamic medal haul. But after a few spectacular crashes which left Americans disappointed and Miller ambivalent, four years of training and the birth of his first daughter, Bode came back to these Olympics recharged, refocused, and under everyone’s radar. Much to the suprise of fans around the world, Miller made the Vancouver Games a “mulligan” of Olympic proportions, winning a gold, silver, and bronze medal while leading the winningest American Alpine skiing team of any Olympiad. Redemption,  complete.

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