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Point-Counterpoint: Who won the Olympics?

<ong>Canada is the true winner of the Winter Games – By David Sacks

The 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games are officially over, and for most of us it will be another four years until we watch curling, figure skating, bobsledding, speed skating or most of the other sports featured.  And while the United States came out on top in the total medal count with 37, it was actually the host country, Canada, who should be considered the real winners of these Olympics.

Canada led all nations in gold medals with 14, five more than the United States. When evaluating the Olympics, as with any other sporting event, we look at winners, and Canada had the most of them.  Canada’s gold medals spanned almost every sport offered in the Olympics, showing excellence in almost every area.

Above all of this, though, these Olympics from the start were about one thing – men’s ice hockey.  In a country where almost every kid learns to skate as he or she learns to walk (some can even skate before they can walk), everything is about hockey.  Canada has the most depth of any country in terms of hockey talent, and Canadians are key components to virtually every NHL team.  There’s a reason why only four non-Canadian players in NHL history have won the Conn Smythe trophy for playoff MVP.  These Olympics were always about one gold medal.

Canada got off to a rocky start.  They had bad goaltending, their stars were not showing up, and they lost to the United States, the team they hate losing to the most, in a preliminary game.  However, Canada went through a gauntlet in order to be able to play in the gold medal game.  They defeated Germany, then crushed Russia, who many analysts picked to win the tournament, and finally beat a surprising Slovakia team.

In the gold medal game, they did not disappoint. Canada held a lead the entire game, but the United States scored with under 30 seconds left.  Many teams would have collapsed after that, but Canada did not.  Sidney Crosby, who has been hailed since he was 16 years old as the next Wayne Gretzky, scored the winning goal, anointing himself as Canada’s golden boy.  Canadian hockey fans could not have written a better script, and over 18 million, or 60 percent, of Canadians watched this happen.

There is speculation that these were the last Olympics that NHL players would be allowed to participate in.  On Canada’s home ice, their NHL players shined and possibly won the final men’s ice hockey gold medal that featured the best players from around the world playing for their countries.  For Canada, hockey is the be-all-end-all, and their players delivered.  Even if Canada only won one medal – the gold for men’s ice hockey – these Olympics would have been considered a success for a majority of Canadians.  These Olympics belonged to them.

The US deserves the winning title – By Justin Rotman

“With Glowing Hearts,” seems like a saying you would find inside of a Hallmark store rather than the official slogan plastered all over venues in Vancouver for the Olympics, but for the viewers and athletes of the Games, it might as well have been “Just Win Baby.”  The Olympics may be portrayed as bringing together different cultures to celebrate values like peace, love, and unity, but for the majority of us its all about gold, silver, and bronze.

Winners were declared and medals were awarded throughout the two weeks of this year’s Games.  The medal count was updated hourly as everyone was concerned with who was “winning” the Olympics.  At the end of the day, the United States had the most medals while Canada had the most golds.  Each country set records— the United States for total medals ever in the Winter Games and Canada for total golds.  But who won?  The US dominated the most popular sports- alpine skiing, speed skating, and snowboarding; Canada won arguably the most important event— men’s ice hockey.  Norway finished fourth in the medal count despite having a population the size of Alabama.  Which of these figures matter the most?

If the NCAA can come up with a formula for crowning a “champion” of an academic year— the Director’s Cup is awarded to the school with the best cumulative finishes in all sports— then a method to find out the champion of the Olmypics should be easy.  Simply award each nation three point for a gold medal, two points for a silver, and one for a bronze.  The final medal table, which saw the US garner 37 medals (9 Gold—15 Silver—13 Bronze), Germany 30 (10—13—7), and Canada 26 (14—7—5).  Using the formula, the United States would finish first with 70 points, Germany second with 63, and Canada third with 61.  Norway, with 23 medals (and 49 points), put on the best showing per capita, but in the Olympics we should be interested in the gross haul.  Just because Luxembourg may have the world’s highest GDP per capita doesn’t mean it’s getting invited into the G-8 anytime soon.

A look at the different sports and athletes of the games shows the American dominance.  They won eight medals in alpine skiing, nearly 33% of the total.  They also won the most medals in freestyle skiing, Nordic combined, snowboarding, and tied for the most in figure skating and ice hockey.  Bode Miller redeemed himself for a shutout in Torino by winning his first gold medal and adding and a gold and a silver.  Anton Apolo Ohno won two bronzes in short track speed skating to become the most decorated US Winter Olympian of all-time.  Speed skater Shani Davis and Snowboarder Shaun White repeated as gold medalists.  Evan Lysacek upset favored Russian and defending Olympic champion Evgeni Plushenko for the men’s figure skating gold.  Team USA won not only their first ever medal in Nordic combined, but also their second, third, and fourth.  The US men’s four-man bobsled won their first gold medal since 1948, and while absolutely no one predicted that Team USA would even medal in men’s hockey, all they did was put together a stunning string of five victories before losing to heavily favored Canada in overtime in the Gold Medal Game.  Team USA goaltender Ryan Miller put on perhaps the best showing of any Olympian not to win gold, posting an astronomical .946 save percentage and 1.35 Goals Against Average, winning Tournament MVP while carrying the Americans to within a single shot of gold.

Canada staged a furious rally in the final days, capturing multiple golds to close the gap, but in the end Vancouver 2010 belonged to the Americans.  Sidney Crosby’s overtime goal Sunday relieved a nation in securing gold in the most hallowed event, but it cannot be argued that Canada won these games simply because Crosby put one goal home in the overtime period.  By virtue of the overall medal count and a dominance across multiple sports and big events, Team USA shall be declared the victor of the 2010 Vancouver Games.

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