2010 Winter Olympics


Competition type Olympic Games
Number and Year XXI / 2010
Host city Vancouver, Canada (Venues)
Opening ceremony 12 February
Closing ceremony 28 February
Competition dates 12 – 28 February
OCOG Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games
Participants 2536 from 82 countries
Medal events 86 in 15 disciplines


The Vancouver Olympic Winter Games could not have started any worse. On the day of the Opening Ceremony, tragedy struck. While taking a training run, Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili went off the track, his body crashing against a post along the track. Kumaritashvili died shortly after the accident, casting a pall over the Opening Ceremony that evening.

January and February 2010 was the warmest winter in Vancouver history and at Cypress Mountain, north of Vancouver, where the freestyle skiing and snowboarding were to be held, there was no snow. The courses could only be maintained by trucking in snow from distant sites. It was so warm in Vancouver that one Olympian, Shaun White, would later call them “The Spring Olympics”. The jinx that seemed to be affecting the Vancouver Olympics was later manifest at the Opening Ceremony, when the lighting of the torch was supposed to be done by four Canadian sports heroes, led by “The Great One”, Wayne Gretzky. The four lightings were to be done on four separate long cauldrons that were to rise from the floor of BC Place. But Catriona Le May Doan could not light her flame, as one cauldron would not rise. But the Vancouver Olympics soon would, overcoming their very shaky start.

Canada had twice before hosted Olympic Games, at Montréal in 1976 and Calgary in 1988. No Canadian had won a gold medal at either Games, the only two times in Olympic history that the host nation did not win gold. Canada set up a sports training program, that was funded both privately and by the government, called “Own the Podium”, and they made plans to do just that. There had been complaints that Canadian athletes monopolized training time on the sites, and after Kumaritashvili’s death, this was mentioned. The seeming embargo over Canadian Olympic gold medals ended on the third day of the Games when Alexandre Bilodeau mounted the top step of the podium with a gold medal in men’s moguls freestyle skiing. Canada cheered – and breathed a sigh of relief.

After that there was little that was not sublime about the Vancouver Winter Olympics. The weather stayed warm in downtown Vancouver, but freestyle and snowboarding were held without major problems, and up at Whistler, where alpine and Nordic events were contested, there was plenty of snow. Each day seemed to see another Canadian own the podium, and by the end of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Canada had won 14 gold medals, the most ever in Olympic history for one nation at a Winter Olympics. They also won one bronze that shone just as brightly. In women’s figure skating, Joannie Rochette was expected to challenge for a medal, though she was not expected to win gold. Her parents travelled from their small town in Québec to watch her compete. Arriving shortly before her event started, her mother developed chest pains, and would die later that day in a Vancouver hospital. Rochette did not have to compete, but she did and won a bronze medal, one that in the warm Vancouver sun seemed like a gold to most who watched her.

Besides the Canadians there were other outstanding performances in 2010. In cross-country skiing, Norway’s Marit Bjørgen won five medals, three of them gold. Her teammate in biathlon, Ole Einar Bjørndalen, won two medals to bring his Winter Olympic total to 11, second in Olympic history only to cross-country legend Bjørn Dæhlie. On the Alpine slopes, Germany’s Maria Riesch won two gold medals, surpassing her best friend, American Lindsey Vonn, who the American press had built up before the Games, causing some to call them the Vonn-couver Olympics. Vonn was injured just before the Games and was not at her best, but became the first American woman to win the downhill, and added a bronze in the Super G.

Canada lives and dies on one sport, ice hockey, or hockey to them, which they call simply “Our Game”. And although the Canadian women dominated and would win their third consecutive gold medal in a tight final game against the United States, it was the Canadian men’s team that was watched by most of the nation, who longed for them to win gold. Things did not start well, as after an initial win, Canada was forced to a shoot-out to defeat Switzerland in pool play, and then lost their final pool game against the United States, 5-3. They still advanced and in the elimination rounds, began to play better, moving onto a final re-match against the Americans. The game would become the most watched television event in Canadian history, and Canada led almost throughout, until the US team pulled their goalie late and scored with only 25 seconds left, sending the game into overtime. Then, 7:40 into that overtime, Canada’s new hockey hero, Sidney Crosby, came through with the winning goal, sending the nation, and the crowds in Vancouver, into a frenzy of patriotic fervor. Seemingly all of Canada spilled out onto the Vancouver streets to celebrate, but the celebration was restrained and only joyous, with no untoward incidents.

They had begun under the worst of circumstances, with the loss of an athlete’s life. They would end, for Canada, under the best of circumstances, with victory in their national game, in overtime, on their home soil, against their arch-rivals, with the goal scored by their national hero. Could it end any better? In between Canada had indeed owned the podium, with their 14 gold medals. At the Closing Ceremony, Canada mocked themselves, when an attendant walked out to the center of BC Place, held up a power cord, looked at it puzzled, then plugged it in, and up rose the fourth cauldron. Catriona LeMay Doan was indeed able to honor the Olympic Flame, as Canada and Vancouver had done so well for the previous two weeks.

Bid process

Bid voting at the 115th IOC Session in Praha, Czech Republic on 2 July 2003. The IOC Executive Committee, at its meeting of 28 August 2002, narrowed the field to the final four candidate cities. Eliminated were: Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Jaca (Spain), Andorra la Vella (Andorra) and Harbin (China).

Bern (Switzerland) was selected as a final candidate city, but a few weeks after that selection, the citizens of its canton in Switzerland voted in a referendum and chose not to support the bid. The Bern bid committee then withdrew on 27 September 2002.

Round 1 Round 2
Vancouver Canada 40 56
PyeongChang South Korea 51 53
Salzburg Austria 16


Officially opened by Michaëlle JeanCANGovernor-General
Torchbearer Wayne GretzkyCANIHOLit secondary flame
Rick HansenCANATHLit flame
Catriona Le May DoanCANSSKDid not light flame due to cauldron malfunction
Steve NashCANBKBLit flame
Nancy GreeneCANALPLit flame
Taker of the Athlete's Oath Hayley WickenheiserCANIHO/SOF
Taker of the Official's Oath Michel VerraultCAN
Olympic Flag Bearer Roméo DallaireCANBearer
Betty FoxCANBearer
Anne MurrayCANBearer
Bobby OrrCANBearer
Julie PayetteCANBearer
Barbara Ann ScottCANFSKBearer
Donald SutherlandCANBearer
Jacques VilleneuveCANBearer
Flagbearers Full list

Medal Disciplines

Alpine Skiing Figure Skating Short Track Speed Skating
Biathlon Freestyle Skiing Skeleton
Bobsleigh Ice Hockey Ski Jumping
Cross Country Skiing Luge Snowboarding
Curling Nordic Combined Speed Skating

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Canada CAN 14 7 5 26
Germany GER 10 13 7 30
United States USA 9 15 13 37
Norway NOR 9 8 6 23
Republic of Korea KOR 6 6 2 14
Switzerland SUI 6 0 3 9
People's Republic of China CHN 5 2 4 11
Sweden SWE 5 2 4 11
Austria AUT 4 6 6 16
Netherlands NED 4 1 3 8
Russian Federation RUS 3 5 7 15
France FRA 2 3 6 11
Australia AUS 2 1 0 3
Czechia CZE 2 0 4 6
Poland POL 1 3 2 6
Italy ITA 1 1 3 5
Belarus BLR 1 1 1 3
Slovakia SVK 1 1 1 3
Great Britain GBR 1 0 0 1
Japan JPN 0 3 2 5
Croatia CRO 0 2 1 3
Slovenia SLO 0 2 1 3
Latvia LAT 0 2 0 2
Finland FIN 0 1 4 5
Estonia EST 0 1 0 1
Kazakhstan KAZ 0 1 0 1

Most successful competitors

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Marit Bjørgen NOR 3 1 1 5
Wang Meng CHN 3 0 0 3
Petter Northug NOR 2 1 1 4
Emil Hegle Svendsen NOR 2 1 0 3
Magdalena Neuner GER 2 1 0 3
Lee Jeong-Su KOR 2 1 0 3
Martina Sáblíková CZE 2 0 1 3
Simon Ammann SUI 2 0 0 2
Charles Hamelin CAN 2 0 0 2
Maria Höfl-Riesch GER 2 0 0 2
Marcus Hellner SWE 2 0 0 2
Zhou Yang CHN 2 0 0 2

All medalists at these Games