Gold was the only option for Canada's women's hockey team. For the U.S. Nordic combined squad, any medal in any color would do. Article continues below
All of them were quite pleased with the way things turned out Thursday.
Wayne Gretzky, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, actor Michael J. Fox and several members of the men's hockey team, including captain Scott Niedermayer.
"It's so special," said women's captain Hayley Wickenheiser, a four-time Olympian with three gold medals. "You grow up in Canada, you know the expectations."
Up in the mountains, Billy Demong and Johnny Spillane finished 1-2 in a Nordic combined race, a surprising medal haul in a sport that's been part of the Winter Olympics since 1924 but never had an American medalist until these games.
Demong's victory is the first gold and his second of these games. Spillane became the first medalist on Sunday, and now he has three, all silver.
"I think it has been building over the past five to 10 years," Demong said. "These Olympics are the combination of years of hard work and hard breaks."
Add silvers by the hockey women and Jeret "Speedy" Peterson in men's aerials, and the U.S. medal count is up to eight golds and 32 overall. The Americans are closing in on their record hauls of 10 gold of 34 total, both set at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.
Germany had a 1-2 finish in giant slalom to reach eight golds and 26 overall medals.
Norway's Marit Bjoergen became the top medal-winner thus far, becoming the first with three golds and with four overall medals by leading the winning team in the women's cross-country relay.
The lone medal event left Thursday night was in women's figure skating, with South Korean's Kim Yu-na a heavy favorite.
In a showdown between the sport's only powers, speedy 18-year-old Marie-Philip Poulin scored twice in the first period and goaltender Shannon Szabados made it hold up. Canada hasn't lost an Olympic hockey game since dropping the gold-medal game at the 1998 Nagano Games.
The Americans beat everyone else 40-2, but couldn't get a single goal on 28 shots.
Several Americans were in tears, including four-time Olympians Angela Ruggiero and Jenny Potter, who was joined on the ice by her two children during the medal presentation. The Canadian crowd raised a chant of "U-S-A!" while the players got their bouquets.
"When you give your whole life to something and you come up short, as a team, it's just awful," Ruggiero said, choking back tears. "It's a little different than playing on the men's side. You really give your life to it. You make lots of sacrifices to win the gold medal."
Earlier, Finland beat Sweden 3-2 in overtime for the bronze, Finland's first medal since taking bronze when women's hockey debuted at the 1998 Winter Olympics. Finland President Tarja Halonen was among those celebrating.
Considering the dominance of Canada and the drop in quality after the United States, there's been speculation about cutting women's hockey from the Olympics. Unlikely, says IOC president Jacques Rogge.
"Women's hockey is a growing sport," he said. "There is no doubt that in the future women's hockey will be a hit."
USA Women's Hockey Fall to Canada
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