No matter what they said, no matter what you saw, it can't fully describe what took place Sunday afternoon inside Canada Hockey Place.
Without doubt, millions of Canadians will insist decades from now that they were inside the arena on the day Canada superstar Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal at 7:40 of overtime to give his country the men's hockey gold medal at the end of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
That's OK. Canada deserves to feel proud. But so does Team USA.
Even if you were watching, you had to be here to appreciate just how incredibly raucous the crowd of nearly 20,000 truly was. Let's just say that I've been covering sports events for more than 40 years, and I can't remember an atmosphere better than this was.
Never. Anywhere. It was
At so many other Olympic events, including the women's hockey final, there were enough Americans in the stands to make a lot of noise. But on this day, Canadians filled at least 90 percent of the seats, and it was as knowledgeable of a hockey crowd as you will ever see. The only concession to the "visitors" from Team USA would be the arena's huge foghorn marking every goal, not just Canada's.
But then, after Canada took a 2-0 lead in the second period, you had to wonder if this game, after so much anticipation and buildup, would turn into a blowout instead.
It didn't, because Team USA hadn't been outclassed in falling behind. And despite never trailing before in this Olympic tournament, the Americans handled this adversity with remarkable composure in the back half of the game. No goonery or luck, just skills and perseverance.
They finally won their first battle, beating Canada goalie Roberto Luongo, and it was 2-1 after two periods. Then, inside the final half-minute of regulation, U.S. forward Zach Parise outdueled the Canadians and Luongo to make it 2-2.
Overtime. Sudden death for the gold. Canada was in shock, and Americans started thinking about another miracle, just like 1980 and 1960. The frenzy grew louder and louder as the intermission ended, with the spectators exhorted by the familiar music of "The Final Countdown."
It was as if they didn't want this game to ever end. So the teams came back and traded their best shots and checks, shift after shift — until Crosby's winning goal.
The eruption of absolute, total ecstasy was barely fathomable. But in the end, there was no gloating, on or off the ice. The players lined up for the traditional handshake line, and many of the opponents hugged each other in obvious respect. They knew they had just played in the best game of their lives.
Then came the medal ceremony, and the loudest and lustiest "O Canada" you will ever hear.
Meanwhile, on the streets of Vancouver, hundreds of thousands began a celebration that surely will rival any Super Bowl or World Series, anywhere.
And why not? Canadians have the last gold medal, in the sport that they call their own. They also have a game, and a moment, that will live on in Olympic lore for generations to come.
Ryan Bradley, the Colorado Springs figure skater who just missed out on the U.S. men's team for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver despite landing two quadruple jumps at the recent U.S. championships, has earned a belated consolation prize.
Bradley, who had to continue training as the top men's alternate for the Olympics, has just learned he will be able to join the U.S. team for the 2010 World Figure Skating Championships next month in Torino, Italy.
The spot opened up because Olympic men's champion Evan Lysacek announced he is withdrawing from the Worlds. Lysacek also is the defending world champion.
In a statement released by the U.S. Figure Skating Association, Lysacek said his decision did not mean he's retiring from competitive skating.
“I’m not afraid to lose,” Lysacek said. “Regardless of medals, I still have so much to thrive on in the sport. I’m not ready to say goodbye.”
Bradley, a 26-year-old student at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, had indicated to his longtime coach Tom Zakrajsek that he might be retiring. But that might depend now on how well he fares at Worlds.
Zakrajsek confirms by e-mail that Bradley definitely will compete next month at Torino. This will be his second Worlds, having also gone in 2007 after finishing second at Nationals. Zakrajsek also coaches U.S. ladies champion and Olympian Rachael Flatt, who will be going to her third Worlds.
Also withdrawing from the Torino event were ice dancers Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, the former U.S. champions who won the Olympic silver medal in 2006 but were fourth at Vancouver.
So the long-awaited Olympic men's hockey game between Canada and the United States is about to start, but nobody around me is looking at the ice. They're staring up to my right, a few rows higher. So I look to see who would be worth all that much attention — and it was hard to tell.
That's because several of Canada's most famous people are sitting only about 30 feet away in the 20,000-seat Canada Hockey Place.
And I couldn't tell if the people around me were most interested in Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper wearing a red Canada hockey sweater, or perhaps hockey icon Wayne Gretzky, sitting beside Harper.
Actually, the spectators must have seen enough of Harper and Gretzky around the Winter Games. Because they appeared to be much more concerned with seeing actor Donald Sutherland in the flesh. Sutherland, sitting by himself a row in front of the prime minister and the world's most revered hockey player, looked far more interested in the hockey game than anyone around him.
And when Canada scored to take a 1-0 lead in the first period, nobody was applauding more than Sutherland, who was one of the well-known Canadians (others included singer Anne Murray and former hockey star Bobby Orr who carried the Olympic flag into the opening ceremonies back on Feb. 12.
Even before the puck drops, Canadians are calling this "the greatest hockey game of all time." Or, for those with broader perspective, "the biggest sports event in Canada's history."
Regardless, you get the idea of what the men's hockey final at the end of the 2010 Winter Olympics truly means to this host nation. And with an hour still remaining until face-off at 12:15 p.m. Pacific time, the atmosphere already is building inside Canada Hockey Place for the Canada-USA battle for the final gold medal of the Vancouver Games.
The organizers also are taking nothing for granted, with thorough security checks for every spectator and member of the media. All of us with media credentials also had to have a special extra ticket to get inside the door, and police came on every bus to check for proper passes before allowing the buses through to the arena.
As intense and deafening as the crowd is sure to be, and as determined as the Canadians are to end the Olympics on the right note and avenge that hockey loss a week ago to the Americans, it's hard to imagine Team USA pulling off its third men's hockey gold — despite the fact this is the 50th anniversary of winning the first, in 1960 at Squaw Valley, Calif. The other gold, of course, was the Miracle on Ice at Lake Placid, N.Y., in 1980.
That means the U.S. never has won the men's hockey gold medal outside America. We'll see if that's still the case in a few more hours.
Downtown Vancouver also is jammed with tens of thousands on the streets, many heading early to the closing ceremony at B.C. Place (next door to Canada Hockey Place). Early arriving spectators for the closing event will be able to watch the men's hockey on the stadium's huge video screens.
And by the way, no U.S. skiers are in medal contention nearing the end of the final snow event today, the 50-kilometer men's cross-country mass start.
So the United States, with its gold or silver in men's hockey this afternoon, will finish for certain with 37 medals, the most by any nation in Winter Games history.
And if the hockey game is half as great as the anticipation, it'll be unforgettable.
Steven Holcomb, driver of the Team 1 four-man bobsled that won the Olympic gold medal, talked about the suspense between passing the finish line and learning the outcome:
“The braking stretch is only about three or four seconds, but it feels like a minute," Holcomb said. "You can’t see the clock. You have to make sure the guy’s getting the brakes for one, ‘cause if you go ripping by off the top, that wouldn’t be cool. But it takes a second.
"When you hear everybody screaming and yelling it’s hard to hear if they’re cheering for you or because you got beat by Germany. As soon as I saw my team was holding up the No. 1, it was a huge moment.”
As for the feeling of winning the Olympics, he said, "It’s just like last week [during the two-man race] walking through the media zone, but it’s a little different talking about gold medals. It’ll take a little while to sink in.
"You work so hard to get somewhere and you finally get there and you’re kinda like ‘Now what? I don’t know what to do,’ but at the same time, these guys have been training so hard and working so hard for pretty much the last four years, to finally end on a high note like this is huge.”
Curt Tomasevicz, Holcomb's teammate who also lives in Colorado Springs, had this to say:
“The word that keeps coming up is, ‘It’s like a dream.’ It really hasn’t hit me yet and I hope it hits me when they put the medal on my neck.”
Despite USA 1's comfortable lead entering the final run, Tomasevicz said there was no complacency:
“With the sport of bobsledding there’s always that chance that something could go wrong. That’s why it’s a great sport. Until we cross that finish line, nothing’s really written in stone. It was a good feeling when we finally crossed the finish line.”
Not since 1948 had the United States reigned over the world of Olympic bobsled, but Saturday afternoon that 62-year drought came to an end. And two of those gold medals for 2010 are coming back to Colorado Springs.
Steven Holcomb drove the USA 1 "Night Train" sled down the Whistler Sliding Center course to the Olympic title with a safe final run of 51.52 seconds, giving him a total of 3:24.46 for the four heats, with Germany 1 getting the silver at 3:24.84, barely edging Canada 1 to the bronze at 3:24.85.
On a day when other medal chances didn't materialize, the U.S. needed one more medal to guarantee 37 in all, the most by any nation at a Winter Olympics, topping Germany's 36 at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
Americans came up just short in the long-track speedskating women's pursuit and the men's snowboarding parallel giant slalom. But the U.S. did take silver in the long track men's pursuit (which was guaranteed by being in the two-team final), led by veteran skater Chad Hedrick, and is also guaranteed at least silver in the men's hockey final Sunday against Canada.
That left bobsled at the last chance for the U.S. to make Olympic history here, and Holcomb with his team took care of that. Besides Curt Tomasevicz, also a Colorado Springs resident, the others on USA 1 were Steve Mesler and Justin Olsen.
They set track records with their first and second runs on Friday, then solidified their lead in the third heat earlier Saturday. That gave Holcomb a lead of 0.40 of a second, plenty of time in bobsled and enough that he didn't have to take big chances on the last run. All he had to do was avoid serious mistakes, and he did.
Steven Holcomb and Curt Tomasevicz, resident athletes at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, are on the brink of bringing four-man bobsled gold back to the OTC after maintaining their lead through the next-to-last run Saturday afternoon at Whistler Sliding Center.
Holcomb drove the USA 1 "Night Train" black sled to a third-heat time of 51.19 seconds, slightly slower than the team's two runs Friday, but nobody else was that fast on a track that wasn't quite as quick as for the first two heats.
Canada 1 is second, 0.45 of a second behind USA 1, but as Canadian driver Lyndon Rush said, "That's a huge margin in our sport. Those guys are laying a whipping on the rest of us."
Germany 1, driven by three-time Olympic champion Andre Lang is third, 0.54 of a second off the lead, followed by Germany 2 and Canada 2.
The final heat of the four-man event starts at 3:40 p.m. Mountain time.
Nobody inside the U.S. Olympic movement wants to take credit for the American athletes' unprecedented successes here at the 2010 Winter Games over the past two weeks, but some athletes and officials offered some reasons Saturday morning at the U.S. Olympic Committee's wrapup news conference.
New CEO Scott Blackmun looked back to "programs that we put into place after Nagano," reacting to the 1998 Winter Games in Japan when the U.S. came away with only 13 medals. Blackmun said the USOC began developing "customized partnerships" with each of the different sports, because all had different circumstances and needs.
Vail skier Lindsey Vonn talked about the momentum that built through the Olympics as Americans kept piling up medals, more than a few unexpected.
"Seeing all the success we were having, it was really inspirational," Vonn said. "It's just been so cool to watch the other events and see the U.S. flag go up (during medal ceremonies) so many times. And the fans here have been out in full force, cheering the whole world and not just their country. It didn't feel the same (four years ago) in Torino as it has here in Whistler."
Bill Demong of Steamboat Springs, the gold-medal winner in the Nordic combined final individual event, emphasized that the torrent of medals hasn't been just good luck.
"I know that, in my sport, we've put years of work into developing every step of the way," Demong said. "But I think that part of the windfall here has been that you have NGBs (national governing bodies) of all the sports taking advantage of the sports science and funding, and they've been making inroads. And seeing the level of professionalism among the athletes here has been a change from other Olympis in the past.
"In Nagano (Demong's first of four Olympics), it felt like we were a small country. It felt like we were outsiders. Now we're here as a large team with big expectations, and that should stay the same now regardless of where the Games are."
USA team leader Mike Plant, a former Colorado Springs resident who worked with several NGBs and now a vice president for baseball's Atlanta Braves, praised the USOC for "not just having four-year programs but a long-term strategy of funding, research and science."
Plant also said he was sorry to hear that Canada now plans to slash its "Own the Podium" program giving extra support for its athletes, saying the USOC invested $55 million in its winter-sports athletes for the Vancouver Games and would continue to provide support leading toward 2014 in Sochi, Russia.
With two more medals Friday night in short-track speedskating, the United States is poised to rewrite national and global records this weekend at the close of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
The official U.S. total is now at 34 medals (eight gold, 13 silver, 13 bronze), with Germany at 27 and Canada now at 21, ahead of Norway's 20. Canada has taken the lead in gold medals with 10, to nine for Germany and eight for the U.S. and Norway.
But they almost certainly won't catch the Americans in total medals, after the U.S. athletes guaranteed themselves Friday of two more medals by making the finals, and assuring themselves of at least silver, in men's hockey and the men's team pursuit in long-track speedskating.
Those two medals mean at least 36 for the United States, beating the previous U.S. best at any Winter Games of 34 in 2002 at Salt Lake City. The 36 also ties for the most medals by any nation at a Winter Games, matching Germany's 36, also in 2002.
And the American total still could rise, with the U.S. leading halfway through the four-man bobsled, in the semifinals of women's team pursuit of long-track speedskating, and with Bode Miller going in the men's slalom race today to end the Alpine skiing.
The last and only time America won the Winter Games medal race was in 1932 at Lake Placid, N.Y.
Hey, Colorado Springs, perhaps it's time to become known a bobsled mecca. You have to wonder about the possibilities after the USA 1 sled piloted by Steven Holcomb of Colorado Springs and the Olympic Training Center has taken the lead after the two runs of four-man bobsled Friday afternoon at Whistler Sliding Center.
Holcomb, whose team also includes Curt Tomasevicz of Colorado Springs, drove the top U.S. sled to a track-record time of 50.89 seconds, taking the lead over Canada 1 and three German entries, all within three-10ths of a second of USA 1 after the first of four runs. Then USA 1 came back to out-do itself with a 50.86 run in the second heat, upping their lead to .40 of a second over the Canadians with the Germans slightly further back.
The other two U.S. teams are 12th and 17th, with the final two runs on Saturday, starting at 2 p.m. Mountain time.
"We're right where we want to be," Holcomb said, adding that the difference Friday was that "we figured out some stuff about the bottom of the track."
No U.S. team has won four-man bobsled gold since 1948.
Another Springs-based pair of bobsledders, Bree Schaaf and Emily Azevedo, placed an impressive fifth earlier in women's bobsled.
The rematch is set, only this time it's for the gold.
Canada will face the United States in the men's hockey final, the last competitive event of the 2010 Winter Olympics, on Sunday afternoon. But it wasn't that easy for the host nation, as Team Canada built a 3-0 lead before holding on at the end for a 3-2 semifinal victory against Slovakia.
Earlier, swarming and attacking as much as at any time during the Winter Olympics men's hockey tournament, Team USA struck for an amazing six goals in the first 12:46 of play and cruised thereafter en route to a stunningly easy 6-1 victory against Finland in the first semifinal at Canada Hockey Place.
Ryan Malone began the assault on Finn goaltender Mikka Kiprusoff just 2:04 into the game that almost every hockey observer expected to be low-scoring. Zach Parise struck next with a power-play goal at 6:23, then Erik Johnson's rebound goal at 8:36 clearly shocked Kiprusoff, who plays for the Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League.
Patrick Kane fired in the next two goals, one at 10:08 that sent Kiprusoff to the bench, then another at 12:31. Just 15 seconds after that, Paul Stastny of the Colorado Avalanche scored from the slot to make it 6-0.
At that point, the Americans had an 11-2 lead in shots on goal, nothing like what was expected from the aggressive Finns after their upset of Sweden in the quarterfinals.
The shutout lasted until the final six minutes, when the Finns scored after the U.S. had replaced starting goaltender Ryan Miller with backup Tim Thomas.
Last Sunday, the U.S. knocked off Canada, 5-3, in what was considered a major upset to wrap up pool play. Now the Americans are 5-0 at the Olympics and never have trailed in a game.
Apolo Anton Ohno lost one silver medal to a controversial ruling, but he and the U.S. men's 5,000-meter short-track speedskating relay team made it to the podium Friday night in likely the final Winter Olympics of Ohno's historic career.
Meanwhile, Katherine Reutter partially made up for Ohno's fate by grabbing the silver medal in the women's short-track 1,000 meters, surviving a tough final race against the world's best and barely losing the gold to China's Wang Meng.
Ohno, the former longtime resident of the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, did come away with a bronze medal in the relay, raising his career total to eight. He already was the most-decorated U.S. winter-sport athlete with seven.
That one also was dramatic, with U.S. anchor J.R. Celski slipping from third to fourth on the final lap, only to make it back to third when China faltered on the last turn. But this time there was no disqualifications: Canada took the gold in 6:44.224, South Korea the silver in 6:44.446 and America the bronze in 6:44.498.
But it could have been nine medals for Ohno, except for the disputed outcome in the men's 500-meter final. Ohno was last in that four-man race for most of the way, until making his usual move on the final turn and sending Canada's Francois-Louis Tremblaysprawling. Then South Korea's Sung Si-Bak fell, and Ohno came across the line for an apparent silver medal.
However, judges ruled Ohno had impeded Tremblay and disqualified the American. Ohno argued his case, but apparently to no avail.
You can check out the full ratings here.
Curtis Hubbard at the Denver Post has other observations about the rankings, pointing out that Rep. Betsy Markey, D-Fort Collins, seeking reelection in a historically conservative district, seems to be pretty pleased that she came out near the middle of the pack.
When I finally got the chance to watch Tim Burton's film version of Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street the other day, I couldn't help comparing it scene-by-scene to the Fine Arts Center Theatre Company's performance that my husband and I saw in its final weekend. While I trust director and star Alan Osburn's opinion, the advice he gave me about the film—that Burton "took the comedy out of it and just made it this horror show"—which appeared in my Jan. 21 preview Layered Look only heightened my curiosity.
Burton did turn Sweeney Todd into a horror show, as Osburn warned. But then again, it's the tale of a crazed serial killer.
In an interview on the special features disc, Sondheim says that a "creepy and charming"—but very different—version of Sweeney Todd, which he saw in London in 1973, inspired him to write a musical that would scare the audience even while the actors sang. (Note: When Sondheim's musical debuted in London before its 1979 Broadway opening, he says everyone hated it. Except for Tim Burton, who saw it 12 times.)
Osburn and Eryn Carman (to whom I offer my sincerest apologies for misspelling her name in print) astutely reconcile the lighter tones of the original play with the vile gravity of the film. Carman adds a dash of absurdity and a perfect amount of humor to the role of Mrs. Lovett with her cheeky intonations and animated expressions, while Osburn's brooding and frantic Todd bears a heavier weight than most stage adaptations of the character. Together, they set a mood that is at once hilarious and revolting.
In contrast, the mood of Burton's film is dreadful, very barely hinting at comedy with dialogue veiled in melancholic understatement. It lacks the laugh-out-loud moments of the FAC's production, making the viewer cringe instead of chuckle. But perhaps that's the tone the Gothic auteur was going for; he obviously wanted to re-frame the narrative in the wickedly intimate, depraved depths within Todd and Lovett. In a commentary on the DVD, Burton says that he cut the chorus so that the story would be more internal (although it suffers in some ways without the tense, piercing harmonies the FAC's chorus imparts). Carter says that Burton told her to counteract the excesses of the scenery, dominant orchestra, crazy hair and sunken-eye makeup with a "restrained performance."
The immense tour de force of the orchestra and the incredible songs, more than the comic relief, seem to carry both the play and the film. "When you have something as over the top as this, if you're gonna prevent the audience from giggling in the wrong way--they should laugh out of nervous tension--then the way you hold it together is to keep the music going all the time," Sondheim says. Even in the 20 percent of the script that the characters aren't singing, there is an underscore. "There are very few moments of silence from the orchestra pit in the show. It's a way to keep the audience in a state of tension because if they ever get out of that fantasy, they're looking at, you know, a ridiculous story with a lot of stage blood."
Spurting blood and painful gurgling from the victims works well on film, not so much on stage. Plus, most people go out to dinner before the theater, not afterwards like they do in New York. I'm glad the FAC was thoughtful enough to let me keep my dinner down.
Regardless of the similarities and differences, the frightening legend of Sweeney Todd lives.
Yes, consumers, you can kiss goodbye those carefree days spent spread out on your couch, asleep in the middle of some reality-based TV soap opera, your lips sticky with the tax-free sugar water that you down 2 liters at a time.
Because — da, da, da, DA!!! — the state's going to slap a sales tax on sody-pop! How will anyone afford their favorite fizzy beverage, now???
Oh, the humanity.
The GOP tried to warn us. They told us all that soda prices would skyrocket, carrying the drink far outside the budget of regular (and increasingly obese, see here) Coloradans.
(Side Note: I actually saw a billboard today with the Easter Bunny hawking Dr. Pepper.... and we wonder why there's a childhood obesity crisis.)
But uh, anyways, Katie Reinisch, the Director of Communications for the Colorado House Democrats, sent out a never-you-fear e-mail today, suggesting that actually the price of soda may stay the same. Turns out — and this is just plain crazy — big companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi might have enough money to absorb the added cost of the tax.
Here's some of the supporting evidence Reinisch sent:
Colorado Safeway Prices (No Tax):
12-pack Pepsi or 7-Up: $4.99
2-Liter Coca-Cola, Pepsi or 7-Up: $1.69
2-liter Safeway Soda: $.75
California Safeway Prices (6.25 Percent Tax):
12-pack Pepsi or 7-Up: $4.99
2-Liter Coca-Cola, Pepsi or 7-Up: $1.69
2-liter Safeway Soda: $.75