I discovered something Friday night that totally shocked me – the United States has won more Olympic men’s hockey goal medals than Canada over the last 50-plus years.

Since I’ve always heard that hockey is the premier religion in Canada and know firsthand that the majority of Americans only care about the sport once every four years, I was stunned to learn that Canada has won just one goal medal since 1952. That victory came in 2002 when they beat the United States in the goal-medal game at Salt Lake City.

Meanwhile, the United States won gold in both 1960 at Squaw Valley and 1980 at Lake Placid, the latter occasion being the famous Miracle on Ice squad led by captain Mike Eruzione and goaltender Jim Craig.

The two countries meet in Sunday’s gold-medal contest on Canadian soil in Vancouver in what ranks as an eagerly anticipated rematch after the United States dispatched of Canada last Sunday.

Tickets to the game are a hot item as thousands of die-hard Canadian hockey fans can’t fathom not being there should the homeland team win Olympic gold on home ice. Losing to the United States for the second time in a week would be a monumental disappointment.

No pressure on the Canadian team, eh?

Obviously, there will be much more pressure on Canada than the United States, which advanced to the gold-medal contest by crushing Finland 6-1 during Friday’s semifinals. Canada advanced later that day by edging Slovakia 3-2.

Goaltender Ryan Miller has been superb in goal and he’ll likely need to have another stellar performance for the United States to take the gold.

Oh no, Ohno!

Speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno won his eighth career medal Friday night as part of the United States relay team that won the bronze medal during the 5,000 relay race.

But Ohno came up short in the 500 meters, being disqualified after his subtle nudge to the hip of Francois-Louis Tremblay in the final turn sent the Canadian into the padded well.

During an NBC interview, Ohno pointedly implied that the Canadian judge on Canadian soil looking out for a Canadian skater was the real reason for the disqualification. I don’t know enough about the inner politics of speed skating to give an informed opinion, but I do know this: People would have gone crazy if it had been Tremblay’s hand on Ohno’s hip that sent Ohno spinning to the ice on the final turn.

I also know this – Ohno has been incredibly good for the sport and he will be missed if this was his last Winter Olympics competition. He makes speed skating fun to watch.

Superb figure skating

Got to say the women’s figure skating long program sessions on Thursday night were fabulous to watch, particularly the performance of gold medal winner Kim Yu-Na and bronze medalist Joannie Rochette.

Yu-Na, only 19 years old, already is the biggest celebrity in Korea and her stock is just going to skyrocket after her record performances in both Tuesday’s short program and Thursday’s long program. It’s easy to see why skating analysts are already touting her as one of the top women skaters of all-time.

Rochette, of Canada, gave a second stellar performance under the incredibly sad circumstances of her mother dying unexpectedly last Sunday. Her courageous performances will become the thing of legend. Impressive in every way and she seemed like a wonderful, grounded person during an in-studio NBC interview on Friday.

The amazing showings by the gold and bronze winners relegated silver medalist Mao Asada of Japan to secondary status. Meanwhile, young Americans Mirai Nagasu (age 16) and U.S. champion Rachael Flatt (age 17) showed promise for the 2014 Games by finishing fourth and seventh, respectively.


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