BC Sports Hall of Fame announces top 50 sports moments

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Image: Vancouver Canucks

The BC Sports Hall of Fame has identified a list of the top-50 sports moments in the history of the province today as part of their “Golden Moments in BC Sports History” campaign, leading up to the Banquet of Champions on June 9th.

In what will undoubtedly be picked apart by sports fans, the top-50 list has Sidney Crosby’s golden goal as the #2 moment and has just two moments concerning the Vancouver Canucks.

The Golden Goal at the 2010 Olympics has to be the number one moment, doesn’t it? Also, spoiler alert: Alex Burrows and Pavel Bure’s Game 7 overtime goals did not make the cut.

Lucky for the Hall of Fame, disagreement and debate is part of the fun of these types of lists.

“B.C. has a colourful and fascinating sports history,” said Allison Mailer, Executive Director of the BC Sports Hall of Fame. “Our Board of Directors embraced the challenge of narrowing down to 50 from the 211 different moments that were nominated and we cannot wait to see British Columbians vote on the moments and engage in a fascinating debate over the next 50 days. We encourage everyone to visit our website and cast their vote!”

A total of 14 ranked seeds were announced, along with 36 other entrants.

The list is a good sample of our province’s sports history, taking a look at men’s and women’s professional and amateur sports since 1908.

See if you agree with the top-14:

1. The Miracle Mile at Empire Stadium (1954)

2. Sidney Crosby’s Golden Goal at the Olympics (2010)

3. Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope (1980)

4. Percy Williams’ 100m Olympic final (1928)

5. Nancy Greene’s giant slalom gold medal at the 1968 Winter Olympics (1968)

6. Rick Hansen’s 40,000km Man in Motion World Tour (1987)

7. Vancouver Whitecaps NASL Soccer Bowl championship (1979)

8. Steve Nash’s back-to-back NBA MVP awards (2005, 2006)

9. The Vancouver Millionaires win BC’s first Stanley Cup championship (1915)

10. North Vancouver’s Karen Magnussen’s 1973 women’s world figure skating championship (1973)

11. Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals (1994)

12. Lui Passaglia’s game-winning field goal to win the Grey Cup at BC Place (1994)

13. Canadian Women’s Soccer team’s Bronze medal at the Summer Olympics (2012)

14. Larry Walker’s NL MVP award (1997)


Here’s a more in-depth look at all 50 moments (write-up courtesy of the BC Sports Hall of Fame):

 

14 Seeded Moments (In Ranked Order)

  1. 1954 – In the space of an hour on August 7th, 1954, two unforgettable moments on the final day of the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games at Vancouver’s Empire Stadium combined for perhaps the most thrilling afternoon in BC sport history. First, with a winning time of 3:58.8, England’s Roger Bannister (the first man to run the mile in under four minutes) defeated Australia’s John Landy (the second man to run a sub-four-minute mile and world record holder) in the heavily-hyped ‘Miracle Mile’ race, the first time two men had ever run a mile under four minutes in the same race. Bannister’s superbly timed final-corner sprint—passing Landy on the right, while Landy looked back on the left—became one of the most memorable sports moments of the 1950s captured in a famous photo taken by Charlie Warner. Less than an hour later, an equally memorable moment of much different emotional tone occurred. The world’s fastest marathoner, England’s Jim Peters, entered the stadium gates leading the 26-mile marathon race by over fifteen minutes before collapsing a dozen times on the cinder track and failing to finish just 200 yards short of the finish line. Peters, who lowered the world marathon record by a greater margin than any other runner before or since (over seven minutes), never raced competitively again. The worldwide media attention given to these two 1954 Games moments, combined with the building of Empire Stadium and other sports facilities, elevated Vancouver to a world-class destination on the world sports map for the first time. Many consider it the biggest international sporting event in BC history until the 2010 Olympics.
  2. 2010 – At 7:40 of overtime Team Canada’s Sidney Crosby slid a give-and-go pass from Jarome Iginla past USA goaltender Ryan Miller to give Canada victory in the gold medal game of the 2010 Olympic men’s ice hockey tournament held at Vancouver’s Canada Hockey Place (Rogers Arena). The gold medal was Canada’s fourteenth of the Games, setting the record for most gold medals won by a nation at a single Winter Olympics. Crosby’s ‘Golden Goal,’ as it’s come to be known, set off wild celebrations across the country where an estimated 26.5 million Canadians tuned in to watch, nearly 80% of the entire population. Within minutes, hundreds of thousands of red-and-white clad Canadian hockey revellers clogged Vancouver’s downtown streets in one of the largest, most spirited post-game celebrations Canada has ever known.
  3. 1980 – Coquitlam’s Terry Fox, who lost his right leg to cancer, captivates Canadians across the country as he completes the equivalent of 143 consecutive marathons—one daily using a prosthetic leg—running 5373km from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Thunder Bay, Ontario on his Marathon of Hope to raise money and awareness for cancer research. Forced to halt his run by the return of cancer, this time in his lungs, Fox later succumbs to the disease less than a year later at the age of 22. His courage and selfless spirit continue to resonate decades after, as the annual Terry Fox Run that takes place in thousands of communities around the world has raised over $650 million for cancer research.
  4. 1928 – Vancouver’s Percy Williams wins the Olympic 100m final in Amsterdam in a time of 10.8 seconds to capture the first individual Olympic gold medal won by a British Columbian athlete. A few days later Williams also wins the 200m for his second Olympic gold. He effectively put Vancouver on the world sports map for the first time and remains one of a handful of athletes in Olympic history to claim the Olympic sprint double. Williams returned home to Vancouver and was greeted by one of the largest parades in Vancouver’s history. He later set the 100m world record in Toronto with a time of 10.3 seconds and added a 100m gold medal at the 1930 British Empire Games in Hamilton. In 1972, a Canadian Press poll named him Canada’s greatest-ever Olympic athlete.
  5. 1968 – Breaking European domination of the slopes, Nancy Greene wins the giant slalom gold medal at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble to go along with an earlier silver medal in the slalom. These medals proved the climax to an unprecedented season that included seven victories in 16 races on her way to her second consecutive World Cup ski title. Greene remains Canada’s most decorated ski racer in history. The Canadian Press named her Canada’s Female Athlete of the 20th Century in 1999.
  6. 1987 – After two years, two months, and two days since leaving Richmond’s Oakridge Mall, Rick Hansen wheels into Vancouver completing his 40,000km Man in Motion World Tour that covered 34 countries on four continents before crossing Canada and raising $26 million for spinal cord research along the way. An accomplished athlete prior to his spinal cord injury, Hansen is acclaimed as an international hero and receives countless honours including sharing the Lou Marsh Award with Wayne Gretzky. He continues to lead the Rick Hansen Foundation, which has raised over $200 million for spinal cord injury-related programs.
  7. 1979 – The Vancouver Whitecaps defeat the Tampa Bay Rowdies 2-1 at Giants Stadium in New Jersey to capture the North American Soccer League’s Soccer Bowl championship. Trevor Whymark scored both goals for the Whitecaps, while midfield general Alan Ball was named the game’s MVP. Legendary Whitecaps Bob Lenarduzzi, Carl Valentine, and ‘Wee’ Willie Johnston also played key roles in the outcome. The team returned home to Vancouver greeted by one of the largest parades in the city’s history with an estimated 100,000 fans celebrating with players in Robson Square.
  8. 2005 – After a spectacular season with the Phoenix Suns, Victoria’s Steve Nash becomes the first Canadian to win the NBA MVP award for the 2004-05 season. Besides leading the Suns to an NBA-best 62–20 win-loss record and the highest scoring average in a decade, Nash himself averaged 15.5 points per game and 11.5 assists per game. He became only the third point guard ever named MVP, joining Magic Johnson and Bob Cousy, and was awarded the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s outstanding athlete of the year for 2005. The following season Nash repeated as NBA MVP becoming one of only ten players in history to win back-to-back MVP awards.
  9. 1915 – The Vancouver Millionaires win BC’s first Stanley Cup championship at Vancouver’s Denman Arena, sweeping the Ottawa Senators in three straight games and out-scoring the easterners 26-8. Still considered one of the greatest teams of all time, the Millionaires featured seven future Hockey Hall of Famers, including hockey’s first superstar Frederick ‘Cyclone’ Taylor, playing owner Frank Patrick, and the ‘Pembroke Peach’ Frank Nighbor. The victory came less than four years after brothers Lester and Frank Patrick built Vancouver’s Denman Arena, the first rink in Canada to boast artificial ice and seated 10,500—the second-largest indoor arena in North America. The Patricks also created the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, a league that afforded them ample opportunity to tinker with hockey’s rules to produce the most exciting game possible. Many of these rules changed hockey and North American sport forever: the playoffs, a farm system to develop players, sweater numbers, the forward pass, the blue line, the penalty shot, and allowing goaltenders to drop to their knees to stop the puck.
  10. 1973 – A year after winning the 1972 Olympic silver medal in figure skating, North Vancouver’s Karen Magnussen wins the women’s world figure skating championship in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, only the third Canadian woman to claim the world title. Magnussen’s short program proved particularly strong, landing a double axel and totalled enough to hold off her American rival Janet Lynn. To this day, no Canadian woman has won the world title since Magnussen.
  11. 1994 – In front of an energized sell-out crowd at Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum, the Vancouver Canucks defeat the New York Rangers 4-1 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals to force a deciding seventh game. Jeff Brown and Geoff Courtnall both scored twice for Vancouver. This marked the first Stanley Cup Final game ever won by the Canucks on home ice and some call it the greatest Stanley Cup Final game to take place in Vancouver. After winning Game 1, the Canucks dropped the next three straight games, before staging a dramatic comeback in Games 5 and 6. Game 7 set records for television audiences in both the US and Canada. Many observers called this Final one of the most exciting in recent memory.
  12. 1994 – Vancouver’s Lui Passaglia kicks the game-winning 38-yard field goal for the BC Lions with no time remaining to defeat the Baltimore CFLers 26-23 in the 82nd Grey Cup at BC Place Stadium. This Grey Cup marked the first-ever championship in professional football history to feature a Canada-vs-US match-up, adding an extra layer of electricity to the game’s atmosphere for the 55,000+ in attendance. The Lions’ victory culminated one of the most unlikely playoff runs by any team in BC sport history. After finishing third in the West, BC downed Edmonton in the Western semifinal on a last-minute Passaglia field goal. In the West Final against Calgary, the Lions did it again, this time Danny McManus throwing a last-second touchdown strike to Darren Flutie in the blowing snow.
  13. 2012 – Burnaby’s Christine Sinclair captains the Canadian women’s Olympic soccer team to an historic bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics in London, defeating France in the bronze medal game 1-0 on a goal scored with just seconds left in added time. Four other BC players played key roles in Canada’s stirring run through the tournament: Abbotsford midfielder Sophie Schmidt; Coquitlam midfielder Brittany Timko; Crofton defender Emily Zurrer; and Maple Ridge goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc. Sinclair’s finest moment of the tournament came in their semi-final match versus the USA at Old Trafford where she scored a hat trick in a heartbreaking 4-3 loss that went to extra time. She finished as the tournament’s top scorer with an Olympic record six goals and later served as Canada’s flag bearer at the Closing Ceremonies.
  14. 1997 – An inspiration for an emerging generation of Canadian big league players, Maple Ridge’s Larry Walker wins the National League MVP award, the first Canadian-born player ever accorded this honour. Walker’s career season with the Colorado Rockies featured a .366 average, 49 home runs, 130 runs batted in, and 33 stolen bases. That year, he also won a Gold Glove, a Silver Slugger, and was named an NL All-Star. The following year, Walker was awarded the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s outstanding athlete of the year.

 

Remainder of Top 50 (In Chronological Order)

1908 – The New Westminster Salmonbellies win BC’s first national lacrosse title, out-scoring the Montreal Shamrocks 12-7 in the two-game total-point Minto Cup series. Later that year, New West’s Alex ‘Dad’ Turnbull and George Rennie played key roles on Canada’s Olympic gold-medal-winning lacrosse team in London, becoming the first BC athletes to win Olympic medals. The Bellies’ 1908 victory, which also technically counts as the first BC team to win a world title (as the Minto Cup was billed as the world championship), opened a New West lacrosse dynasty, dominating the sport for the next twenty years and accumulating 12 Minto Cups (when the trophy was awarded to the country’s top professional senior team) and 24 Mann Cup titles to date.

1908 – Victoria’s Robert Powell reaches the semifinals at Wimbledon, unmatched by any Canadian male in singles until Milos Raonic in 2014. The following two years at Wimbledon, Powell won the All England Plate and reached the final of the doubles competition. In 1913, Powell captained Canada’s Davis Cup team that featured four Victoria-based players who defeated Belgium and South Africa before losing to the US in the zone final, marking Canada’s best-ever Davis Cup result before the 2013 Canadian team’s semifinal finish.

1910 – Bob Brown arrives in Vancouver in 1910, purchases the Vancouver Beavers baseball team to keep them and professional baseball in Vancouver, then quickly establishes himself as the key builder in BC baseball over the next four decades, elevating Vancouver in particular on the North American baseball map. He built Athletic Park in 1913 after the closing of Recreation Park. Later he staged the first night baseball game in Canada and the first night game west of the Mississippi. He convinced many travelling teams to come play in Vancouver, including the 1922 US All-Star Team (featuring Casey Stengel) and the 1934 AL All-Star Team (featuring Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and others).

1925 – The Western Canada Hockey League’s Victoria Cougars defeat the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens in four games to capture the best-of-five Stanley Cup Final for BC’s second, and to date, last Stanley Cup win. Games were played at Victoria’s Patrick Arena and Vancouver’s larger Denman Arena, owing to huge demand for tickets. Owner/coach Lester Patrick and future Hockey Hall of Famers Frank Fredrickson, Frank Foyston, and Harry ‘Happy’ Holmes led the Cougars. Montreal featured legendary players Howie Morenz, Aurele Joliat, and Georges Vezina. Victoria’s victory was the last significant win for the Patrick brothers’ Pacific Coast Hockey Association/Western Canada Hockey League, which brought professional hockey (and two Stanley Cups) to BC for the first time beginning in 1911-12. After 1925, a Stanley Cup Final game wouldn’t take place again in BC for 57 years, when the Canucks made the 1982 Finals.

1930 – UBC’s women’s basketball team representing the ‘West’ at the Women’s World Games in Prague, Czechoslovakia defeats France 18-14 in front of 10,000 spectators to claim the world title, the earliest won by a BC women’s team in any sport. To claim victory, UBC’s women overcame gusty conditions on an outdoor cinder court that featured baskets set two feet higher than normal and a non-English speaking referee who refused to whistle fouls on unusually rough play from the French.

1933 – Vancouver boxer Jimmy McLarnin wins the world welterweight championship in Los Angeles, knocking out Young Corbett III in the first round. By then McLarnin had established himself as one of boxing’s greatest draws and regularly filled New York’s Madison Square Garden for his matches. A year later, he lost his world title to Barney Ross on a 15-round split decision, but four months later, McLarnin regained the title for a second time. In 1935 he relinquished the title back to Ross in their third-straight 15-rounder. Many boxing experts still cite the McLarnin-Ross three-fight series as boxing’s top highlight of the 1930s.

1938 – The Vancouver Asahi baseball team win three championships in 1938—Burrard, Commercial, and Pacific Northwest—ranking as one of BC’s most popular teams and a beacon of inspiration for BC’s Japanese-Canadian community. The team would be permanently disbanded just three years later with the forced relocation of all Japanese Canadians from the West Coast to interior camps. The Asahi remain an inspiration to this day as several books and films have been produced in Canada and Japan and the team has been inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame and Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, all elevating the awareness of the team to unprecedented levels. Most recently, an Asahi youth baseball team has been formed in Vancouver to continue the Asahi legacy.

1950-1958 – The Vancouver Eilers Jewellers Senior ‘A’ women’s basketball team wins nine consecutive senior Canadian national basketball titles in one of the great BC team dynasties of any sport in any era. Vancouver’s Ruth Wilson coached the team to the first two Underwood Trophy national titles, likely the first time a woman coached a female team to a Canadian championship in any sport. In the midst of this remarkable nine-year run, the Eilers represented Canada at the 1955 Pan American Games in Mexico, the first Canadian women’s team to represent Canada abroad since the 1930s.

1953 – Vancouver’s Doug Hepburn hoists a three-lift total weight of 1030-lbs to win the world heavyweight weightlifting championship in Stockholm, Sweden and earn the title of ‘world’s strongest man.’ To this day, Hepburn remains the only Canadian weightlifter to claim the world heavyweight title. Hepburn later won heavyweight gold at the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games as well, the only individual Vancouver athlete to claim gold in his/her hometown at the Games.

1955 – The Penticton Vees, representing Canada at the world ice hockey championship in Krefeld, Germany, defeat the Soviet Union’s national team 5-0 in the tournament’s final game to reclaim world hockey supremacy for Canada, a year after the Soviet Union dished out a 7-2 humiliation. The Vees, from tiny Penticton (pop. 9000 in 1955), were led by the battlin’ Warwick brothers, Grant, Bill, and Dick, and young goaltender Ivan McLelland. The long-standing Canada-Soviet Union (Russia) hockey rivalry was effectively born at this tournament.

1956 – Frank Read’s UBC-VRC rowing crews again did Canada proud winning two Olympic medals in Melbourne, Australia. Canada’s Fours crew, consisting of UBC students Don Arnold, Lorne Loomer, Archie McKinnon, and Walter d’Hondt, won Canada’s first-ever Olympic gold medal in rowing. This result proved one of the most unexpected victories in Olympic rowing history owing to the fact this crew was made up of leftover oarsmen not picked for Canada’s Eights crew. Speaking of which, that crew—also comprising UBC students—won silver for Canada in the Eights at the 1956 Olympics.

1961 – Backstopped by the stellar play of goaltender Seth Martin, the Trail Smoke Eaters representing Canada defeat the Soviet Union’s national team 5-1 in their final tournament game to clinch the world ice hockey championship in Geneva, Switzerland with an unbeaten 6-0-1 record. Canada would not win another world ice hockey championship for 33 years and the Smoke Eaters were the last ‘club’ team to win the world title. For the small company town of Trail—most players worked at the Cominco smelter—the 1961 championship was the Smoke Eaters’ second, having earlier won the world title in 1939. The bulk of the 1961 team made it back to the worlds in 1963, but finished fourth, the last-ever appearance of a truly ‘club’ team to represent Canada at the world tournament.

1964 – North Vancouver’s Harry Jerome recovers from a ruptured thigh muscle to win an improbable 100m bronze medal at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. Two years earlier after severely injuring his thigh at the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, doctors feared Jerome would never walk again, let alone run. After a difficult year rehabilitating, he returned to tie the world 100-yard record and land on the Olympic podium. Jerome remains one of Canada’s greatest sprinters of all time: 1966 Commonwealth 100-yard gold medalist, 1967 Pan American 100m gold medalist, and he remains the only human to hold both the 100m and 100-yard world records simultaneously. In 2010, the Canadian government named Jerome a Person of National Historical Significance.

1964 – Paired together just weeks before the Olympics in Tokyo, UBC rowers George Hungerford and Roger Jackson win pairs rowing gold in one of the more unlikely Olympic victories in Canadian sport history having never rowed together previously. The duo stroked to over a full boat-length lead and then desperately hung on for Canada’s only gold medal of the Games. Leading up to the Olympics, Hungerford was felled by mononucleosis and forced to give up his spot in the UBC-VRC eights crew representing Canada. Jackson was orphaned when his pairs partner was moved to fill Hungerford’s eights spot. As Hungerford slowly recovered, he and Jackson began training together in a dilapidated shell virtually ignored by everyone. Within weeks they miraculously gelled far beyond even the most optimistic expectations. Hungerford and Jackson were awarded the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s athletes of the year.

1964 – The BC Lions win their first-ever Grey Cup championship defeating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 34-24 at Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium, much to the delight of football-mad BC. The victory avenged the Lions’ 1963 Grey Cup loss to Hamilton a year earlier. Quarterback Joe Kapp led an explosive offence that produced touchdowns by Bob Swift, Jim Carphin, and Willie Fleming. Remarkably, Lions defensive back Bill Munsey scored two touchdowns in the third quarter, one on offence while filling in for injured running back Swift, and one on defence recovering a fumble and rumbling 71 yards to the end zone.

1966 – West Vancouver’s ‘Mighty Mouse’ Elaine Tanner wins a record seven Commonwealth Games swimming medals (four gold, three silver) in Kingston, Jamaica at just 15 years of age. Her remarkable performance earned her the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s top athlete of the year, the youngest ever to win the honour. Tanner later went on to capture five medals (two gold, three silver) at the 1967 Pan American Games in Winnipeg and three more (two silver, one bronze) at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. She remains one of Canada’s most decorated swimmers of all-time.

1966 – The BC Rugby Union representative side defeats the British Lions (a representative side featuring the best players from England, Scotland, Wales, and both Irelands) 8-3 in 1966 at Empire Stadium. The Lions had only ever been defeated by a provincial side once before in their history (Waikato Province in New Zealand). BC was trailing late in the match when the winning try occurred. BC team captain Ted Hunt, playing flyhalf, chased down the Lions fullback who was racing to a sure try and popped the ball loose. Hunt then caught the ball on the fly and raced the other way down the sideline. He laid a perfect kick on the run that came to a stop under the goalposts and was pounced on by BC prop Peter Grantham for the winning points.

1967 – At age 14, Haney high school high jumping phenom Debbie Brill invents the ‘Brill Bend’ high jumping technique that helps revolutionize the sport around the world and shocks seasoned high jumping coaches and observers that an athlete so young could develop such a radically new technique. At the same time, independent of one another, American Dick Fosbury created the ‘Fosbury Flop.’ Both are credited with changing the sport, as this new approach pushes the world record to unheard of heights that older techniques, the Western Roll, the straddle, and the scissors, couldn’t reach. Brill became the first North American woman to clear six feet at the age of 16. She first set the Canadian national high jump record in 1969 and re-broke it several times over the course of her career. She continues to hold the Canadian national records in both indoor (1.99m (6 ft 6 in) set in 1982) and outdoor (1.98m set in 1984) high jump to this day.

1980-86 – Under the coaching of Ken Shields, the University of Victoria Vikes win a CIS-record seven consecutive national basketball championships from 1980-86 and made the CIAU finals in nine of Shields last eleven years at UVic—one of the great runs in Canadian university basketball history. The record of seven-straight national titles remains a CIS record to this day. UVic was blessed with a group of basketball players that may have been the strongest in Canadian university history: all but one team member who tried out for the Canadian men’s national team didn’t make it. And they were smart too. Only one player finished his athletic eligibility and didn’t get his degree—the rest all graduated with degrees and many became top coaches in their own right in the CIS, following in Shields’ footsteps. By 1989, Shields accumulated more coaching victories than any man in Canadian inter-university sport and was honoured with four CIAU Coach of the Year awards.

1984 – Jockey Chris Loseth rides eight winning horses on a ten-event card at Vancouver’s Exhibition Park (today Hastings Park) in front of 4398 hardy souls on a very blustery and rainy night on April 19, 1984 to etch his name in the Guinness Book of World Records for most wins on a single racing card. This despite suffering a severely twisted ankle in a race the previous afternoon when his horse clipped the heels of another in front of him and tripped at a full sprint sending him flying. Loseth rode with a heavily taped ankle in order to set his Guinness record. Later that year, Loseth set the record for most wins at Exhibition Park in a season with 166 and was awarded his second Sovereign Award as Canada’s outstanding jockey. In his 30+ year career, Loseth rode in over 26,000 races, winning 3668 times and compiling over 6500 seconds and thirds.

1989 – Whistler skier Rob Boyd becomes the first Canadian male racer to win a World Cup downhill in his home country, winning in his hometown in 1989. His parents’ home overlooked the finish line area for the race. An estimated 25,000+ were on hand watching that day. Besides three World Cup victories, Boyd finished on the podium six times and accumulated 28 top-fifteen results in his twelve years on the national team. Boyd also qualified for six world championships and three Olympics before retiring from World Cup competition in 1997.

1992 – Victoria’s Silken Laumann overcomes a devastating leg injury and five subsequent operations suffered only ten weeks prior to the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona to capture a bronze medal in single sculls rowing. Many consider it one of the greatest comebacks in all of sport. The reigning world champion, Laumann, a long-time resident of Victoria, was the heavy favourite to claim Olympic gold until the shell of a German pairs crew slammed into her right leg in training, severing muscles and shattering bone. Doctors doubted she’d ever row again. After three weeks in hospital, Laumann improbably resumed training on the water. Still on crutches in Barcelona, Laumann rowed through intense pain as Canadians and many around the world watched inspired and awed. She was later chosen to carry the Canadian flag at the Games’ closing ceremonies.

1992-2010 – Cranbrook’s smooth-skating Scott Niedermayer wins every major North American and international hockey championship available to him and remains the only player in hockey history to accomplish this remarkable feat. Niedermayer’s championship resume includes the following: 1991 world junior championship; 1992 Memorial Cup; 2004 IIHF world championship; 2004 World Cup of Hockey; four Stanley Cup championships; and two Olympic gold medals, in 2002 and 2010. The latter, of course, came captaining Canada to dramatic overtime gold on home soil in Vancouver.

1994 – BC golfers Dave Barr, Rick Gibson, and Ray Stewart lead Canada to a historic 1994 Dunhill Cup win in Scotland. Over four days in October 1994, the Canadians were confronted with players who ranked among the top-fifty in the world rankings for that year. Persevering through difficult weather conditions and howling winds, the Canadians were faced with the formidable American threesome for the championship: Fred Couples (ranked sixth), Tom Kite (ranked 22nd), and Curtis Strange (ranked 47th) who between them counted forty-seven US PGA Tour victories. In the final, after Barr defeated Kite and Gibson lost to Strange, Stewart took the clinching match against Couples 71 to 72. He had birdied three of the first six holes while Couples made some early bogeys.

1996 – Shouldering the pressure of high expectations, Vancouver rowers Kathleen Heddle and Marnie McBean win gold in double sculls and bronze in quadruple sculls at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta to become the most decorated Canadian Olympians in history to that point. Combined with Heddle and McBean’s gold medals in pairs and eights at the 1992 Olympics, the pair became the first Canadian Olympians to win three Olympic gold medals. Both Heddle and McBean were later awarded the Thomas Keller Medal by the International Rowing Federation, which is the highest honour in the sport of rowing.

1997 – Driving for the Player’s Forsythe Racing Team on the CART/PPG Indy Car World Series racing circuit, Maple Ridge’s Greg Moore at age 22 becomes one of the youngest winners in North American open-wheel racing history by taking the checkered flag at the Milwaukee Mile holding off Michael Andretti by less than a second. The extraordinarily talented Moore won his second career CART race just seven days later in Detroit and seemed on the cusp of fulfilling his immense potential. In 1997 and 1998 Moore finished in seventh and in fifth places overall respectively in the Cart championship driver standings. In 1999, he commenced the year with a fantastic win at Homestead in the series opener and achieved eight top-ten finishes that year. Sadly, he would only win five career CART races before tragically dying in a crash at Fontana California during the last race of the 1999 season.

2000 – Two BC-based curling rinks—Kelley Law’s Richmond Winter Club curling rink and Greg McAulay Royal City Curling Club rink out of New Westminster—win the women’s and men’s world curling championships on the same day in Glasgow, Scotland. To earn the right to represent Canada at the worlds, Law and McAulay had earlier won the Scott Tournament of Hearts and the Labatt Brier respectively. Not since 1980 had one province been the home of the Canadian men’s and women’s championship curling teams. A third BC team, Brad Kuhn (Jr men’s) also won the junior world championships that year too.

2000 – Victoria’s Simon Whitfield rebounds from a crash on the bike portion of the first-ever Olympic triathlon with a blistering finishing kick to pass all competitors and win the sport’s inaugural Olympic gold medal in Sydney, Australia. Whitfield’s winning time of 1hr 48:24min would stand as an Olympic record for 12 years. He was selected to carry the Canadian flag at the Games’ Closing Ceremony. Whitfield later added a dramatic triathlon silver medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing—missing out on gold by just five seconds—and was chosen as Canadian flagbearer at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics in London.

2008 – The daughter of Vietnamese refugees who built a new life in small-town Hazelton, BC, Carol Huynh (appropriately pronounced “win”) wins an emotional Olympic gold medal in women’s 48-kg freestyle wrestling at the Beijing Olympics. Huynh won her first three matches of the tournament before facing Japan’s reigning world champion, Chiharu Icho, in the gold medal match. Huynh used her relentless attacking style to score points and never allowed Icho the opportunity to gain control. When Huynh’s arm was raised as the winner, she wept. In the years that followed, Huynh won gold medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the 2011 Pan American Games, while adding a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics in London.

2010 – Rosemere, Quebec’s Alexandre Bilodeau wins gold in moguls skiing at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games to become the first Canadian athlete to win Olympic gold on home soil after Canada was shut out for gold while hosting both the 1976 and 1988 Olympics. Canada had held the ignominious record of being the only Olympic host country in history to not win gold while hosting the Games—and, worse, it had happened twice. On the slopes of West Vancouver’s Cypress Bowl ski area, Bilodeau finally put that to rest in the final run with a back double full on the first jump and a back iron cross on the second. Both were nearly flawless and the runs were completed in the second fastest times, giving him 26.75 points to win gold. As Canadians celebrated coast-to-coast, particularly in Vancouver where thousands armed with flags partied on downtown streets, Bilodeau became a national celebrity and the heartwarming story of the special bond he shared with his older brother Frederic, who suffers from cerebral palsy, inspired the nation. Bilodeau successfully defended his Olympic moguls gold medal four years later in Sochi.

2010 – West Vancouver’s Maëlle Ricker wins Olympic snowboard cross gold on Cypress Mountain—just twenty minutes from where she grew up—to become the first Canadian woman to win Olympic gold on home snow. Overcoming a disastrous first qualifying run in which she fell, Ricker stormed back in the quarters and semis and led wire-to-wire in the foggy final. The next night over 20,000 proud Canadians at BC Place Stadium celebrated her gold medal presentation. And if winning Olympic gold at home wasn’t enough, a month later Ricker locked up the World Cup Overall title as the topper on her dream 2010 season.

2010 – Devastated over the sudden loss of her mother two days before the women’s Olympic figure skating competition began at Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum, Canada’s Joannie Rochette summons remarkable courage, strength, and composure to win an emotional Olympic bronze medal, Canada’s first in women’s figure skating in over twenty years. Choosing to compete in honour of her mom when no one would have faulted her for withdrawing, Rochette skated to the Uruguayan tango La Cumparsita and produced one of the greatest Canadian skating performances ever. At the conclusion of her short program, Rochette looked skyward and began to weep, while tears were already streaming across the country and around the world. Rochette was later chosen as Canada’s flagbearer at the Closing Ceremony.

2010 – Already Canada’s most decorated Winter Paralympian of all time going into the 2010 Paralympics, North Vancouver’s Lauren Woolstencroft wins a remarkable five gold medals, tying a Winter Paralympic record. And Woolstencroft didn’t just win her events, she dominated. She took the Super Combined, Downhill, Super G, Slalom, and Giant Slalom by a combined thirty-five seconds for five gold medals in six glorious days. For her efforts, she was chosen as Canada’s flagbearer at the Closing Ceremonies of the 2010 Paralympic Games and nominated for the prestigious Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year.

2010-11 – The Vancouver Canucks’ Henrik and Daniel Sedin win back-to-back NHL scoring titles in 2009-10 and 2010-11 respectively, the first and second Canucks to ever win this award. Receiving more votes than other more high-profile finalists, Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, Henrik also won the Hart Memorial Trophy as NHL MVP in the 2009-10 season, the first Canuck to do so. Henrik won the Art Ross with 112 points (breaking the Canucks single-season scoring record) and passing Ovechkin for the scoring lead on the final day of the NHL’s regular season. Daniel won his Art Ross with a career-high 41 goals, 63 assists, and 104 points. It marked the first time in NHL history that brothers led the league in scoring in back-to-back seasons. In the 2010-11 season, the Sedins led the Canucks to the NHL’s Presidents’ Trophy with the best regular season record in the league, the first time in franchise history the Canucks had won this honour. Entering the 2011 playoffs as the top seed in the Western Conference, the Canucks beat the Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks in the first three rounds to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 17 years versus the Boston Bruins. Sadly, the Canucks’ Cup run came up just short as Boston took the Final in seven games.

2012 – Mission’s Brent Hayden caps one of the great swimming careers in BC history by winning a bronze medal in the 100m freestyle at the 2012 Olympics in London. It marked Canada’s first-ever medal in possibly swimming’s most hotly contested event and proved one of Canada’s defining moments of the 2012 Olympics. Canada had not even placed an athlete in the Olympic 100m freestyle final since Dick Pound 52 years earlier. Determined to erase the disappointment of previous Games, Hayden, the oldest swimmer in the field by over three years, swam his gutsiest race ever. Despite back spasms and ill-fitting goggles, he pulled off the best start of his career and never stopped pushing to finish in a time of 47.80 seconds.

2014 – Fort St. John’s Denny Morrison wins the 1000m speed skating silver medal at the Sochi Olympics to complete one of the most heartwarming stories in recent Olympic history. At the 2013 Canadian trials Morrison had tripped just metres before the 1000m finish line and lost his chance at an Olympic spot in the distance despite being one of the world’s best 1000m skaters. In Sochi, Canadian teammate Gilmore Junio, who had qualified for the 1000m, selflessly offered Morrison his spot, which Morrison graciously accepted. The gesture made international headlines, particularly after Morrison battled to his gutsy silver and just four hundredths of a second from gold. Later in the Games, he added a 1500m bronze medal to bring his career Olympic medal haul to four, matching Canadian Gaetan Boucher as the most decorated male speed skaters in history.

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Rob Williams Sports Editor at Vancity Buzz covering all sports in Vancouver.
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