Downtown Vancouver erupts after Team Canada takes gold
Published Monday, March 1, 2010 7:56AM PST
As the men's Olympic gold medal hockey game between Team Canada and the U.S. went into overtime Sunday, tens of thousands of fans in downtown Vancouver stood in agonizing anticipation.
Just off the intersection of Granville and Georgia streets, crowds crammed together to watch coverage through department store windows.
"Why isn't anyone cheering?" someone yelled anxiously from the back.
"It's called intermission!" another fan, poised closer to the TV, replied.
In Robson Square, crowds listened attentively to the play-by-play blasting through mounted speakers – but the sound was muffled by the thousands of people packed shoulder-to-shoulder just down the street.
At the corner of Burrard and Robson streets, fans were glued to raised TV screens that were, for some, half a block away and barely visible. A sea of red jerseys, red shirts, red body paint and red hair dye coloured the crowd.
Then, 7:40 into overtime, the moment came. Sidney Crosby scored the game-winning goal. Balloons soared upwards, champagne bottles popped and the crowd erupted into a cheer that would not end for more than 15 minutes.
Canada had broken the record for the most gold medals won at a single Olympic Winter Games.
Fans climbed trees, lamp posts and mounted nearby rooftops and bus stops to lead chants, alternating between "We got the gold!" and "We're number one!"
Bobby-Joe Redhead of Chetwynd, B.C., told ctvbc.ca that he, his brother and his best friend just arrived in Vancouver on Sunday morning after a 14-hour bus ride.
"We just got in to town before the game," he said. "We didn't sleep last night."
When the gold-medal match went into overtime, Redhead said he and his friends were losing spirit.
"It was intense, yeah. We were scared," he said. "But it was worth it. The gold is ours."
Shawn Phillips from Edmonton, Alta., was wearing a red Team Canada jersey and blowing a long red horn.
"We won!" he screamed. "We persevered! We had to."
Phillips said there was one time in his life he could remember so much excitement in the streets.
"One time only: When the Oilers won the Stanley Cup."
And as the game let out, and thousands more filtered out into the streets, the celebration seemed to be just beginning.
Roughly 150,000 people are expected to gather downtown on Sunday evening to bid farewell to the 2010 Games.
The Closing Ceremony, which has been teased as a showcase of top Canadian talent, begins at 5:30 p.m. local time at BC Place.