Canada's Rebecca Johnston (L), Becky Kellar and Canada's Meaghan Mikkelson (R) celebrate after defeating the USA in the women's gold medal hockey game at Canada Hockey Place in Vancouver, BC during the 2010 Winter Olympics, February 25, 2010.
Photograph by: Jean Levac/Canwest, Jean Levac/Canwest
VANCOUVER — The Canadian women’s hockey team apologized Friday for a celebration in which some players drank beer and smoked cigars on the ice at Canada Hockey Place on Thursday after winning the gold medal at the Vancouver Winter Games.
Photos of Canadian players whooping it up about an hour after their 2-0 victory over the United States made their way onto the Internet late Thursday. That angered Gilbert Felli, the IOC’s executive director of the Olympic Games, who was quoted as saying, “I don’t think it’s a good promotion of sport values.” He also promised an investigation.
“We realize we should have kept our celebrations in the dressing room,” veteran winger Jayna Hefford said Friday. “It was well after people had left the building. We had done it before and some of our favourite memories are going and sitting on the ice and getting a picture by a logo or taking in the atmosphere of the arena once everybody leaves.
“I guess we just got carried away with the celebration. We had worked so hard to win this medal here in Canada. When we got back to the dressing room, I’m not sure any of us knew what was going on. We were just enjoying the moment. Unfortunately, we left the dressing room and we apologize for that.”
Forward Marie-Philip Poulin, who scored both of Canada’s goals in the win, was among those celebrating. Drinking age in B.C. is 19. She celebrates her 19th birthday March 28.
“I think we just wanted to enjoy the game and go back on the ice and I think we are really sorry for what happened,” she said. “It won’t happen again.
“It’s (winning gold) the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me. We just wanted to enjoy it on the ice.”
As for whether she realized the legal drinking age in B.C. at the time, she said, “at the moment, I didn’t. It’s so great to win the gold medal and I just wanted to enjoy it with the girls on the ice. I’m so sorry for what happened. I’ll learn from it.”
Hefford did say that the negative feedback the team has received bothered her. The Canadians were criticized for lopsided scores in the preliminary rounds and they were forced to answer questions about it immediately after they had won gold, because IOC president Jacques Rogge was quoted earlier in the day as saying, “we cannot continue without improvement,” in regards to parity in the game.
“We accomplished something huge,” said Hefford. “Huge for our country and something that maybe a lot of people doubted could happen here in Canada. I think that’s a pretty great story for Canadians who love the game.
“Not one person on our team is a smoker. We had cigars as a sign of celebration. We had a few beers. That was it.
“Today would have been a great day to open the papers and see our team celebration on the front page and hear how proud Canadians are of us.”
Despite Felli’s comments, an IOC spokesman did try to play down the situation on Friday at a VANOC news conference.
Mark Adams said that the IOC is writing Canadian Olympic officials a letter asking for further details of what happened, but said to “characterize it as an investigation would be wrong.”
“We hear all sorts of stories, and we see the pictures obviously . . .we’d just like to get an idea from them . . . what I would clearly say is that a very quick apology from the team looks to me to have drawn a line under it, but I can’t fully say that until the letters have come back and we’ve finished the process,” said Adams.
When pushed on the issue, Adams went on to say, “people are in search of a story that doesn’t exist . . . they’re looking for someone to say it’s terrible.”
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