By Ethan Diamandas & Charlie Pinkerton (This article was first sent to subscribers of the Ottawa at the Olympics Daily Newsletter. Sign up to receive it, for free, here.)
Tragedy in men’s hockey
lt was another busy day in Beijing, with several team sports right in the thick of things.
Even without NHL players, Canada’s men’s hockey team still entered the Games with gold medal aspirations.
Those dreams were crushed Wednesday morning.
Here’s how it happened.
Men’s hockey shockingly eliminated in quarterfinals
A high-strung, tight-checking affair from the start, the Canada-Sweden quarterfinal match looked more like a violent chess match than a hockey game. Neither team was particularly explosive, with both sides opting to pass around the ice for a perfect shot that never came.
Canada looked uncharacteristically wimpy on the powerplay, and goaltender Matt Tomkins stoned one of Sweden’s lone scoring chances in the second period.
The game grew very chirpy when the second frame concluded, as Canada — one of the tournament’s more physical teams — staunchly protected the front of the net, challenging any yellow jersey that dared get close.
But eventually things collapsed halfway through the third period. Ottawa’s Eric O’Dell couldn’t handle an untimely drop pass from teammate Jack McBain, which the Swedes picked up, and buried top shelf in Canada’s net.
That one mistake was the difference, as Sweden added an empty-netter to win the game 2-0, eliminating the Canadian squad from the Beijing Olympics.
Women’s curling down to the wire
Wednesday morning’s matchup with China started off as a disaster. Canada was all over the place, with lead Dawn McEwen curling just 63 per cent through three ends, and skip Jennifer Jones curling an ugly 30 per cent.
But in the sixth, after a disastrous end for China, Canada drew for a remarkable five points to steal the lead. The game would eventually be tied in an extra end, where China continued its red-hot stretch by hugging two stones right on the button before Jones could throw the hammer.
Canada wanted a nose hit, but Jones just missed, instead re-directing the stone wide, meaning China took the 11-9 win.
The wild loss comes after a heart-pumping victory over the U.S. on Tuesday evening. The American team nearly ran out of time in the final end (which would’ve been an automatic disqualification), but managed to get its stones off in rushed fashion.
With the score tied, Jones had the hammer for Canada and an open house to shoot for. The 47-year-old put a gentle touch on it, leaving almost no need to sweep for McEwen, as her red rock curled perfectly into position.
Canada won the match 7-6, as Jones flashed a big grin and pumped her fist in the air.
“I like the feeling of the pressure. I feel like that’s why we play sport,” Jones told the CBC.
“If it was a guarantee then it wouldn’t be as much fun. So when the adrenaline’s going, when the game’s on the line, that’s when I love it the most and that’s when it seems like everything gets more clear for me.”
Homan congratulates friend, details personal struggles
Curler Rachel Homan has long been eliminated from the Beijing Games, but, after a significant social media break, she took to Twitter to congratulate a friend.
Fellow Olympian Ivanie Blondin — a childhood fried of Homan’s from Orleans — won gold in a dramatic race in the women’s team pursuit event Tuesday morning.
Homan also detailed her experience with post-Olympic depression, which can be common among high-level athletes.
“I know many athletes have felt this but I’m in the deepest of black holes wishing we could have found another centimetre for Canada,” she wrote. “Know that I’m cheering hard for every athlete in Beijing right now but personally struggling beyond words.”
Homan’s mixed doubles team with John Morris underachieved in the Games, losing to bottom-ranked Australia in the round robin and eventually narrowly missing the final playoff spot. Still, the team’s effort was remarkable, and people online made known their appreciation for Homan’s contributions.
“I never take the Maple Leaf for granted and am grateful for the chance to fight for you all,” Homan wrote.
Ottawa Olympians’ Day 16 Schedule:
Day 16 Preview: The rivalry game reaches Beijing
For the fourth straight Games, Canada plays the United States for Olympic gold in women’s hockey. These two teams are no strangers to each other — the U.S. won gold in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics — but this Canada squad has blossomed in Beijing, and subsequently annihilated every nation in its path.
With 50 goals for and just eight allowed, Canada has won every game easily — including a round-robin triumph over the U.S.
And the Canadian players aren’t concerned about the scope of the upcoming moment.
“I think we know that history, but we’re going to give ourselves a blank slate,” Canada forward Brianne Jenner said, per Olympic.ca. “We looked at it as an opportunity to go out there and claim a gold rather than looking at the history books and what has happened.”
Canadian players acknowledged the rivalry — it’s fair to say the team anticipated this gold medal showdown well before the Games began — but said they’re grateful to play a championship game, regardless of the opponent.
“It is an exciting rivalry but our focus is we get to play another game,” said Canadian Sarah Nurse, the tournament’s points leader. “We came to play seven games and we wanted the last one to be the gold medal game.”
Jamie Lee Rattray and Team Canada play the gold medal match Wednesday at 11:10 p.m.
Hannah Schmidt begins women’s ski cross
The women’s ski cross seeding event begins Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. eastern, and Dunrobin’s Hannah Schmidt is one of the more intriguing skiers to follow.
The 27-year-old always saw her benchmark as the 2026 Winter Olympics in Italy, but after a strong performance in the 2021-2022 World Cup season, Schmidt has earned her way onto the biggest stage.
“I’m trying not to think of it, even though it is the Olympics, not as much of a big deal,” Schmidt told the Sports Pages earlier this month. “I want to kind of think of it as a regular World Cup on our circuit, just mentally for me to kind of ease the stress of it being the Olympics.
“But I do think it is a big thing. And I think it’s pretty awesome to be able to do that with my brother.”
Jared Schmidt, Hannah’s younger brother, will compete in men’s ski cross shortly, but for now, Hannah is embracing the chaos and entering every race with a clear head.
“I’m not going to put a number on my finish,” she said. “I think I’m just gonna go in with an open mind and ski the best and the way I know how I can ski.”
After seeding, Schmidt races in her heat Thursday at 1:00 a.m. eastern.
Curling wraps up round robin
Canada finishes up its round robin Thursday at 1:05 a.m. with a matchup against Denmark. At 4-4, Canada still has a shot at the playoffs, but it’ll need some help from the rest of the field. Here’s a rundown of all possible playoff scenarios:
When you wake up tomorrow, Canada will have one more medal — whether it’s gold or silver depends on how Canada attacks a strong American women’s hockey team that it knows very well.
With men’s hockey eliminated from contention, women’s curling finds itself once again on the brink, this time with a potential tiebreaker match to crack the playoffs.
There’s a flurry action headed your way and you don’t want to miss it, so check back soon to hear the latest and greatest from your favourite Ottawa athletes.
(This article was first sent to subscribers of the Ottawa at the Olympics Daily Newsletter. Sign up to receive it, for free, here.)
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