Canada in frenzy after hockey gold asWinter Olympics end

Sunday, February 28, 2010

VANCOUVER - Canadians in red (wearing their maple leaf symbol) broke in celebrations from coast to coast on the last day of the 21st Winter Olympics after the hosts clinched the ice hockey gold by beating arch rivals United States.

The host victory also brought the curtain down on the 17-day sports extravaganza, with colourful ceremonies at the BC Place here Sunday night.

The rivalry between Canada and the US in ice hockey is as intense as the India-Pakistan rivalry in field hockey. The whole nation was charged before the Sunday finals. But when Sidney Crosby scored the winner to seal the match 3-2 for Canada in extra time, revelries broke across the nation. Fans waved flags. Cars honked. Bars overflew with celebrants as the nail-biting final ended in gold for the hosts.

Major downtown streets in Vancouver, Toronto and other cities were jammed by sport lovers. Crowds chanted the national anthem ‘O Canada’ and ‘Sid the Kid’ after hockey hero Sidney Crosby scored the winner.

There were major traffic disruptions inn Toronto, as thousands of revellers thronged the famed Yonge Street - the largest street in the world - in the heart of Canada’s biggest city.

There could not have been a better ending to the sporting mega show which began sadly with the tragic death of young Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvitti in an accident.

Closing the ceremonies, IOC chief Rogge congratulated the Canadians for their “outstanding job” of the hosting the event which drew more than 5,500 athletes and officials from 84 nations.

Attended by International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and thousands of people, the closing ceremony was marked by a show of riveting performances by artists, including belle dances, from around the world.

In the end, the Olympic flag was passed over to the Russian city of Sochi which will host the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Despite their loss to the hosts in ice hockey, the US finished at the top of the medal tally with 37 medals, including nine gold, five silver and 13 bronze. Germany came second with 30 medals, including 10 gold. Hosts Canada finished third with 26 golds. However, Canada topped in the tally for gold medals, clinching 14 in all.

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