The day the majority of athletes left, there was not a lot of sightings since they had a special terminal set up for athletes to be hurried thru to their flights.
Most athletes used the VIP treatment to avoid the excessively long lines most others had to endure. But not all did.
One of those who came thru the terminal was Canadian skeleton Olympic Gold Medal winner, Jon Montgomery.
Like most of you, I had no idea who Jon Montgomery was before the games. But after his victory & more notably, his celebeation thru the streets of Whistler with a pitcher of beer in hand, I became aware of him.
When he came into the terminal he was rocking a pair of shades, so I wasnt sure if he would be cool or high on himself. Turns out, he was quite cool. he happily signed multiple items, and chatted breifly with us about his win & his celebration.
Afterwards, he was approached by a mom & daughter. The mom asked if her daughter could get a photo with him, he happily oliged & asked the girl if she wanted to touch his medal. She nodded in approval & he let her hold it, which she replied with an awestruck "wow" as he smiled on.
After he was done posing with the girl, I asked him if he could show us the medal, he did & then went on his way.
Congratulations Jon Montgomery. You deserve it.
Hard to imagine a 2 time MVP of the World Championships being overlooked often, but this is often the case for Jennifer Botterill.
Playing in the shadows of womens hockey icon, Hayley Wickenheiser, Jennifer Botterill has put together one quite spectacular resume of her own. Going into her 4th Olympics, Jennifer has 2 Gold medals, and a silver. She has 5 World championships. She also has those two World Championship MVP titles.
During her college career at Harvard University, Jennifer won the Patty Kazmaier award as top collegiate womens hockey player. Twice. A feat never done before, or since. She holds the NCAA record for most consecutive games with a point at 80 (scored a point in 106 of her 107 career games), has the NCAA all time record for points with 319, and has an NCAA championship.
She has been a CWHL league scoring champion while playing for her club team, the Mississauga Chiefs. She won the Esso National Championship with that team as well in 2008. She simply wins at every level she plays at.
With all this on her resume, she is often overlooked when people talk about who are the best womens hockey players. Of course, when you play with Hayley Wickenheiser, possibly the greatest womens hockey player of all-time, that tends to happen. But dont be fooled, Botterill is herself, one of the greatest ever.
Team Canada will certainly he aiming for Gold on home soil in Vancouver this February. With talent like Jennifer Botterill on the team, you can see why they have such expectations.
You find out more about Jennifer on her official website http://www.jenniferbotterill.com/
Viewed by most as the top womens defender in the world, Angela Ruggiero will be expected to bring that skill set to Vancouver to help the U.S.A. Womens hockey team try & get a Gold in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Canada.
Ruggiero is a veteran of the Olympics, as she enters her 4th games. With a Gold, a silver & a bronze, the last two both being less than she hoped, Angela will come into the 2010 games on a mission. Return to the top.
Her resume reads like no other in womens hockey. Namely because of a feat she accomplished that has still to this date, not been matched. She played in a professional mens league in North America in a non-goalie position. Playing for the Tulsa Oilers of the CHL, she created history, and entered the Hockey Hall Of Fame with the accomplishment... with her brother Bill, as the first brother-sister duo to ever play a pro hockey game together. Now playing for the Minnesota Whitecaps of the WWHL when she isnt on Team USA, Angela his helping to grow the womens hockey game by playing in one of its top leagues.
Shes such a notable name, that off the ice, her success has transcended into a television career. With a spot on Donald Trumps The Apprentice being the most notable of these.
She is the all time leader in games played for Team USA, 3 time World Championship Gold medalist. There is pretty much little to nothing left for her to accomplish, yet she still keeps going. With various business world job offers at her disposal, she put them all on hold to go after another gold medal in 2010. That drive & determination is what makes Angela so valuable to Team USA.
Team USA will come into the Olympics as a heavy favorite to win a gold in Vancouver. With Angela Ruggiero on the ice for them, that goal is a real possibility.
You can check out her website at www.angelaruggiero.com/You can follow Angela on Twitter at http://twitter.com/AngelaRuggiero
Widely viewed as the top player in womens hockey for the last decade, Hayley Wickenheiser will be in Vancouver hoping to strike Gold in the Olympics for a 3rd time.
As the all-time leading scorer in International womens hockey history, Hayley is the most recognizable face int he game. One of very few women to ever play in a mens pro league, Hayley has nearly done it all in womens hockey. A 2 time Olympic Champion and 6 time World Champion, Hayley is one of the most decorated athletes in the sport. She is a 2 time "Top forward" of the World Championships, as well as 2 time Olympic tournament MVP.
Hayley hasnt just dominated in womens hockey. She has taken her skills to the mens game where she has played over 40 career games in pro leagues in Europe. Her desire to continue to challenge herself has not been ignored by the media either. Sports Illustrated, in its list of the 25 toughest athletes, listed Hayley 20th.
In Olympic action, "Wick", as she is also known to fans & teammates has an incredible 35 points in 16 GP, and nearly a goal a game with 14. She was the leading scorer in 2006 Olympics with astounding 17 pts in 5 games. It was her best performance in an Olympics to date. In World Championship play, her stats are scary as well. 68 points in 41 games played.
Hayley is one of those rare athletes that excels at almost everything she tries. Proof of this is, her inclusion on the 2000 Summer Olympics team in Softball. Despite the team having an unsuccessful tournament, Hayley proved her athleticism by leading the team in batting average. Since then, she has focused solely on hockey & maybe no surprise, has elevated her game to near unmatchable heights.
With stops in her career for the Calgary Oval X-treme of the Western Womens Hockey League (WWHL), HC Salamat (Finnish league) & Eskilstuna Linden (Swedish 3rd tier league), and an invite to Philadelphia Flyers rookie camp one year, Hayley has done more in her career than probably any other womens player.
If Canada is to win a 3rd straight Gold in Vancouver during the 2010 Olympics, it is a guarantee that Hayley Wickenheiser will have a lot to do with it.
You can check out her website at - http://www.hayleywickenheiser.com
You can follow her on twitter at http://twitter.com/wick_22
When the 2010 Winter Olympics open up next month here in Vancouver, BC, Canada, Clara Hughes will create a little more history to put on her already impressive resume. Flag Bearer...finally.
The path from her troubled childhood to multiple time Olympic medallist and flag bearer for a hosting Olympic nation might not be what you expect, and certainly isnt the norm, but it has worked for her & now she is set to put another notch on her already amazing resume when she becomes the flag bearer for Canada in an Olympics on her home soil.
Clara will be trying to keep a couple impressive streaks alive for Canada as the flag bearer in the winter games. The last two flag bearers, Danielle Goyette (hockey 2006) & Catriona Le May Doan (speed skating 2002) both won Gold in their respective events. In fact, of the 5 females prior to Hughes to be selected, all of them won a medal in the games they were flag bearers at. Goyette & Lemay Doan, Sylvie Daigle in 1992 won Gold in speed skating, Karen Magnuson with silver in 1972 figure skating & Nancy Greene in 1968 with a Gold and Silver in skiing. The men of recent years have not had the same luck when being chosen.
For Hughes, this will be her 3rd Winter Olympic games, and 5th Olympic games in total. Already a winner of 5 Olympic medals, the 2nd most in Canadian Olympics history to Cindy Klassen with 6, Hughes is also the only Canadian mens or womens to win medals in the Summer and Winter games. Ontop of her Gold, Silver & Bronze medals in speed skating, she is also a 2 time bronze medalist in Cycling in 1996. Clara is one of only 4 Olympians ever to accomplish the feat of a medal in both winter & summer games.
Being flag bearer is something that Clara in the past was not wanting to do. She stated she did not want the honour for the 2006 games. She went out in those games & won 2 medals, which along with her bronze in 2002, gave her 1 of each colour. Now 37 years old, Hughes, a native of Winnipeg, Manitoba is ready for that responsibility.
A former World record holder in the 10000 metres, Hughes is one of the best there is in long track speed skating. On top of her Olympic medals, Clara has some top World Cup gold medals as well in the 3000 & 5000 metre events. These are the events she will be competing in when she comes to Vancouver, the 3000 & 5000, since there is no 10000M event for women.
Her bicycling career is nothing short of amazing either, with 18 National championships, 8 Pan American medals, 1 World championship silver and a glut of other accolades, her cycling career would be enough to make her one of the greatest Canadian female athletes in history already. When you add in her speed skating legacy, she could arguably be the greatest female athlete in Canadian history.
This career started out quite differently than most great Olympic athletes. It was not till she was 16, watching the 1988 Winter Olympics & seeing a bio on Gaetan Boucher winning gold for Canada in 1984 that she got the itch to be a speed skater, let alone an athlete of any type. She was a party girl in her early days, stemming from the split of her parents, she was seeming headed for a wasted life. Bad grades, running away from home multiple times, no motivation to be something great, experimenting with drugs & drinking. This was the life Clara had early on. Its unlikely anyone at that point saw a great Olympic athlete in their midst. Then came the '88 Olympics & something clicked. Shortly thereafter her mother got her in a speed skating program & after a couple small bumps along the way, shes never looked back.
In Vancouver next month, Clara Hughes will look to try & tie or surpass Cindy Klassen as the most decorated Canadian athlete of all time (Klassen has 1 even at the 2010 games herself). She is afterall still a legitimate threat for a medal in the 5000 metres, as well as a possible medallist in the 3000 metres. If there is 1 thing her career & career path has taught us, its this, dont doubt anything Clara Hughes sets her mind to. If she is standing on the medal podium again these Olympics, no one should be surprised.
Does Jaromir Jagr have anything left to prove? Perhaps not. Certainly not to Czech hockey fans. That said, he comes into the 2010 Olympics probably looking to show the hockey world that he is not irrelevant just yet.
Jagr has done practically everything imaginable in hockey. Olympic Gold, World Championship Gold, 2X Stanley Cup Winner, 5X Art Ross winner, 3X Lester Pearson winner, 1X Hart Trophy winner, 10th all time on the NHL scoring list. Oh, and at the age of 36 he decided to head to Russia to help the upstart KHL get going where he lead his club team Avangard Omsk in scoring & finished in the top 10 in league points.
Jaromir really has nothing to prove. But he probably doesnt see it that way. The NHL world (namely the fans & media) has essentially cast him aside as washed up. His last NHL season was very unspectacular by Jagr (71 points in 82 GP) standards & many thought he was losing a step. So he headed to Russia & played very well there, but many in North America still dont take the KHL all too seriously. So he is for the mostpart seen as "washed up". But thats hardly the case.
JJ will be in Vancouver showing the world he still has "it" & that the NHL is missing "it". His KHL contract is up at the end of this season & its widely speculated he will be using the Olympics as his audition for an NHL job next season. So yes, Jagr has lots to prove.
The Czech Republic is hardly a medal "favorite" by anyones rankings this Olympics, but with Jaromir Jagr on the team those odds get better, and with him wanting to go out & prove he is still a force in the game he was dominant at for more than a decade, a medal suddenly seems very possible for the Czechs.
With Joe Sakic officially retired, Jarome has become "the man" the offense looks to for leadership. Once seen as the up & coming potential leader for Canada, Jarome now IS that leader. As a captain on his club team, the Calgary Flames, Jarome has taken his team to a Stanley Cup final. He has won 2 Richard Trophies for top goal scorer in the league. 1 Art Ross for points leader, and 1 Pearson for league MVP as voted on by players.
On the international scene he has just as impressive of a resume as ayone. He has a gold at every level. World Junior champion, World Cup champion, World Championships champion, Olympic Champion. There is nothing he hasnt accomplished for his country yet. Add to that 2 Memorial Cup trophies with the Kamloops Blazers and its clear he has done it all at practically every level.
A 2 time 50 goal scorer in the NHL, Jarome will be heavily relied upon to score goals in Vancouver during the 2010 Olympics. His tough, go to the net style makes him good for popping in opportunistic rebounds, and he can carry the puck just as well too.
Team Canada might have a captain in Scott Niedermayer who has done it all, but he will probably share the leadership role with Jarome Iginla. Someone that on the international ice, has done it all as well.