Another Olympics has wrapped up, and for Canada — and Lethbridge — it was one to remember.
The 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, saw Canadian athletes produce a record medal haul, with the 29 medals eclipsing Canada’s previous high of 26 medals earned at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
As was the case in the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Lethbridge had a strong presence on the Olympic stage once more, as readers of The Herald’s Olympic special front page on Sunday will have noted. Rob Klinkhammer, a city native and former Lethbridge Hurricanes player, contributed to Canada’s bronze medal in men’s hockey. One of Klinkhammer’s former Lethbridge Bantam AAA teammates, Daryl Boyle, earned a silver medal as a defenceman with Germany’s men’s hockey team.
In addition, Lethbridge College instructor Florian Linder had a hand in South Korea’s silver medal in the men’s four-man bobsled event. A former Olympian himself at the 2006 Turin Olympics in four-man bobsleigh, Linder served as a technical starts coach for South Korea in the bobsled competition.
University of Lethbridge student athlete Sarah Orban and radio station technical director Jon Koopmans were also involved in the Games in South Korea. Orban, a track cyclist, attended the Games through her involvement with Training Ground, a Canadian Olympic Committee and RBC initiative to bring undiscovered athletes into Canada’s Olympic talent pool.
Koopmans, who works with Clear Sky Radio (94.1 CJOC-FM and 98.1 The Bridge in Lethbridge), was assisting the Discovery Channel and EuroSport with transmitting Olympics action to European countries.
Beyond the local connection, which added an interesting element to the Games for Lethbridge residents, there was plenty else to cheer in the way of Canadians’ performances at PyeongChang. Canada’s medal total included 11 gold medals, including a dramatic one in ice dance by the popular duo of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. There were several Canadian medals in the extreme sports that have become part of the Games lineup in recent years. Who can’t get excited watching the speed and high-flying thrills of events such as snowboard big air (new at these Games), ski and snowboard slopestyle, ski halfpipe and ski cross?
Let’s face it, it’s fun to see Canadians do well on the world stage. The Winter Games is Canada’s time to shine at the Olympics, and our athletes did just that at PyeongChang. We can be proud of them, even those who didn’t bring home Olympic medals.
In spite of some blemishes — a few instances of doping (not our athletes) and athletes behaving badly (unfortunately, some Canadians) — there’s still much to like about the Olympics. While many hockey fans might have wished the NHL had decided to send their players to the Games, the decision to not do so opened the door for players like Klinkhammer and Boyle to bask in the Olympic experience.
It’s stories like theirs that provide reason to celebrate the Olympics.