Popularly known as Vancouver 2010 and the XXI Olympic Winter Games, the 2010 Winter Olympics were held in Vancouver, Canada. The competition happened between 12 and 28 February. In all, 82 different countries had their athletes participating in the 86 different sporting events, with about 2600 athletes taking part. The Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) planned both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Organizational Challenge

Due to global warming, the fields were filled with snow, making it difficult for athletes to contest in such conditions. Winter games, unlike soccer which is a summer olympic sport, require ideal ice conditions to succeed.

The recession also undoubtedly took its toll on the whole event, making it difficult for organizers. Nevertheless, this was marked as being the most eventful Winter Olympics.

It was the first Olympics when the opening ceremony was held indoors due to technical difficulties. The ceremony featured Canadian Olympic greats such as skier Nancy Greene, ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky, and basketball player Steve Nash. Right before the Olympics officially opened, the Georgian one-man luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili died, after crashing during a practice run hours earlier at the Whistler Sliding Sports Centre.

The opening ceremony began with a dedication to Nodar. As a safety measure after Nodar’s death, the luge track was reconstructed to make it slower and safer by shortening it. Felix Loch of Germany then took the gold medal for men’s singles luge event.

The Milestones

Vancouver 2010 marked plenty of milestones for individual athletes and participating countries, all having spectacular triumphs.

Ski cross had its Olympic debut during the 2010 Vancouver Games, with Canadian Ashleigh McIvor bagging the first gold medal. The very first gold medal of the Vancouver Olympics was awarded to Simon Ammann of Switzerland for the regular hill ski jumping event. In a surprise victory during the women’s 7.5-km biathlon sprint, Slovakia’s Anastasia Kuzmina bagged the first Winter Olympic gold medal. Skier Alexandre Bilodeau won the men’s moguls event, making him the first Canadian to take gold in an Olympics held in Canada.

For the first time since 1960, China took home the pairs figure skating gold won by the husband-and-wife team of Zhao Hongbo and Shen Xue. In the downhill event, Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn became the first American woman ever to bag gold in that event. Alexei Grishin of Belarus triumphed in the men’s aerial skiing acquiring the first Winter Olympic gold medal for his country. USA’s Billy Demong won the large hill category; the first American to bag a Nordic combined gold.

Having defeated Germany, the US took first honors in the bobsled four-man event, the first such achievement in more than 60 years. 34-year-old Jasey-Jay Anderson set a record by winning the Snowboarding gold at the most advanced age. In hockey, Canada defeated the United States 3–2 in the gold medal game, with Sidney Crosby scoring “The Golden Goal” in overtime.

The US set a Winter Olympics record, taking home 37 total medals from the Vancouver 2010. The host country Canada finished third with 26 medals (14 gold, seven silver, and five bronze medals). The country had 202 athletes representing it across 15 different sports. Canada’s 14 gold medals broke the record as the most gold medals won by a single country in the entire history of the Winter Games.