The Five Worst

Five flushes of embarrassment. Five tingles of dread. Five lurches of our collective stomach.
Click below for the five worst moments for Canadians at the Winter Olympic Games.



5) The Men Just Look Old—Torino, Italy, 2006

The Team Canada that went to the Olympics in Torino was one of the most talented line-ups Canada ever put together. On paper.

Torino was the first Olympics after the NHL lockout, and the game had changed. It was faster and more focused on goal-scoring and finesse. Canada had a team of hard-nosed stalwarts, like Adam Foote and Joe Sakic.

Hockey Canada left off young-stars like Sydney Crosby when European teams like Russia added their young studs. Canada ended up losing in the quarter-finals to Russia and Alexander Ovechkin, proving that the new game was too youthful for Canada’s old guns. Sweden went on to win the gold, beating Finland.


4) Bourne and Kraatz Fall Short—Nagano, Japan, 1998

Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz competed at three Winter Olympics: Lillehammer, Nagano, and Salt Lake City.

In Nagano, the pair was looking to improve on their 10th place finish from the last games. Bourne and Kraatz skated with flair and energy.

The theme for their long program was River Dance and their footwork on the ice, in skates, was simply remarkable.

But not remarkable enough. Bourne and Kraatz placed 4th, keeping them off the podium. Again, in Salt Lake they placed 4th despite the controversy brewing around their sport.


 3) The Curlers Open Their Fat Mouths—Nagano, Japan, 1998

Curling Team

Curling had its inaugural competition at the Nagano Winter Olympics. Canada was highly favoured to win, having some of the most experienced curlers in the game.

Canadian team member George Karrys was so sure of a Team Canada win over Switzerland in the gold medal game that he thought this an appropriate pregame comment: “Probably the 50th or 60th ranked club in Canada could beat the best team in Europe.”

His teammate, and the team skip, added that it was more likely that the 40th ranked team in Canada could win a gold medal.

The final score: Switzerland 9, Canada 3.


2) Salé and Pelletier Get Jobbed—Salt Lake City, Utah, 2002

The Love Story program skated by Jamie Salé and David Pelletier was one of the best performances by any Canadian figure skating pair in history. At the end of their program every person watching, including the Canadians’ rivals, the Russian skaters, was positive that Salé and Pelletier had won gold.

The scores were read. Shock. The crowd booed, and Salé shrugged her shoulders, as if apologising for  not being good enough. The Canadians had won silver.

The fiasco that ensued revealed a story of cheating, country alliances, score trading and scandal. Involved everything from a French judge that was forced to favour for the Russian pair to the Russian Mafia, it seemed like something out of a Hollywood script.

Eventually, the Canadians were awarded the gold medal. But the ugly face of politics in sport was revealed, leading to a revamp of the way of judging at the Olympics.



1) Disappointment in the Battle of the Brians—Calgary, Canada, 1988

The “Battle of Brians” was the marquee event of the Calgary, 1988 Olympics. Brian Orser was Canada’s great hope for its first Olympic gold medal on home soil.

Standing in his way was Brian Boitano, the American figure skater who ranked at the top, alongside him. Orser had won silver in 1984 at Sarajevo; Boitano placed 5th. Then, at the 1987 World Championships, Orser took the gold with Boitano at his heels.

At Calgary, Boitano won the compulsory program. Orser won the short program. They were pick-to-pick skating into their long routines. Both skaters chose military themed music for their final numbers. Boitano skated first, coming off the ice nearly flawless.

When Orser took the ice the home crowd was enthralled. He landed his signature triple axel smoothly. Then, while doing a triple-flip, Orser stepped out of his landing for less than half a second, but it was enough for the judges. Despite landing seven triple jumps, that millisecond cost Orser the gold.

Canada is still looking for its first gold medal at home.

THE contributor

Hilary Atkinson is a writer specializing in sports and culture. A hockey junkie, she likes to channel-surf between sports shows while updating her blog and Twitter feed.