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2010 Winter Olympics: No, Canada — hosts wait for gold

Canada's Jennifer Heil seemed in position to claim a first gold for her country on its own turf. But U.S. skier Hannah Kearney turned in a near-flawless showing to win the moguls.
Canada's Jennifer Heil seemed in position to claim a first gold for her country on its own turf. But U.S. skier Hannah Kearney turned in a near-flawless showing to win the moguls.
Adrian Dennis,AFP/Getty Images

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Canada doesn't "Own The Podium" yet.

The host country won a single medal on the first day of competition at the Vancouver Olympics, claiming a silver in women's moguls. The total and the color were both disappointments and means at least another day of waiting for Canada to win its first gold medal on home snow or ice.

Short-track speedskater Charles Hamelin had the first good chance to break the drought — which started at the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal and continued at the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary — but he was eliminated in a semifinal of the 1,500 meters, getting blocked at the finish by American Apolo Anton Ohno.

"Usually, I'm able to go through to the finals if I have good races, but it happens sometimes in short track," Hamelin said.

He rebounded to win the B final. A nice consolation prize, perhaps, but not enough to set off the stirring rendition of "O Canada" that's been building for decades.

Then the nation's hopes shifted to women's moguls, only to be dealt back-to-back disappointments.

Things were looking good going into the final round on Saturday night, with reigning Olympic champion Jenn Heil in second and Kristi Richards fourth.

But Richards wiped out in the finale, even losing a ski. She needed a few moments to get situated, then gave fans something to cheer about with a huge leap on her way to the bottom.

She wound up 20th.

That left it up to Heil, and she delivered a crisp, clean performance to move atop the leaderboard. She remained there until the final foe, American Hannah Kearney, turned in a nearly flawless performance that locked up the gold.

The next best chance for a breakthrough comes in men's moguls today, with Alexandre Bilodeau among the favorites.

Alas, there's also a chance for another gut-wrenching finish for the hosts as another favorite is Dale Begg-Smith, who was born in Canada but competes for Australia.

At least the nation had one great reason to roar: the women's hockey team beat Slovakia 18-0.