B.C. sports history: Panning for 50 golden moments


Fans invited to select exceptional events that shaped athletics in this province

Canada's Sidney Crosby rejoices after scoring the winner in overtime as Canada beat the United States 3-2 in the gold medal hockey game at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Canada's Sidney Crosby rejoices after scoring the winner in overtime as Canada beat the United States 3-2 in the gold medal hockey game at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Photograph by: Canadian Press Files, The Province

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VANCOUVER — The way many (mostly younger) British Columbians live and die with the fortunes of the Vancouver Canucks, their 50 greatest moments in B.C. sports history might start with the first National Hockey League game here in October 1970 and run to Bo Horvat's suddenly rediscovered scoring touch.

The 48 other moments? All Canuck, we'd bet. Anything to do with Trevor Linden, Tiger Williams' stick-riding celebration in 1980, Pavel Bure's double overtime Game 7 winner in 1994, the draft trade that secured the Sedin twins and the firing of Mike Keenan.

Heck, somebody might even throw in Harold Snepsts' magnificent soup-strainer moustache. Or, the journeyman defenceman's induction - a highly debatable one - into the BC Sports Hall of Fame.

Such is the Canucks' hold here, a dominance bolstered by the power of the TSN Radio discourse and the back page of the local daily tabloid.

The hockey nuts might be persuaded to slip in Sidney Crosby's golden goal in the 2010 Olympics men's hockey final and even - given the tribute jerseys their heroes wore for a game in 2015 - the 1915 Vancouver Millionaires' Stanley Cup win.

But this province's rich sports history is filled with hundreds of magical moments that didn't take place on a hockey rink in Vancouver.

We might even nominate a certain sports writer's courageous win in the misnomered "Wild Cow Ride" at the 1977 Quesnel Rodeo. (Naive me, doing a fourmonth stint as sports editor of the Cariboo Observer, was stunned to find myself on a real, rodeo-stock bull. I gamely managed to hold on for four seconds before being unceremoniously tossed ass over teakettle, but bested the radio reporter who was bucked off his bull as soon as the chute gate opened.)

OK, my favourite sports "moment" is unlikely to make the cut. But the Hall of Fame, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, believes it can come up with a legitimate 50 Golden Moments in B.C. Sports.

The public has until Jan. 22 to submit nominations to either support or add to a preliminary list of 50 compiled by Hall curator Jason Beck and a group of sport historians.

"They've really done a good job in highlighting a lot of the moments that most people are not familiar with unless you're a sports historian," says Allison Mailer, the Hall's executive director.

"It gives people a starting place.

"We want the conversation to be broader than people who are already aware of the Hall of Fame and who are passionate about it."

A panel of sports officials, media and honoured members will whittle the nominations down to 50, with the public invited to decide the final order through a bracket-style, online vote. The top four will then be unveiled at the 2016 Hall of Fame induction banquet on June 9 at Vancouver Convention Centre.

From B.C. Lions' Grey Cup wins, a Whitecaps' North American Soccer League title and various national lacrosse championships to Olympic gold medals, NBA and MLB MVPs and world championship victories won by B.C. athletes, there is no shortage of moments to consider. "It doesn't matter what the top one is," says Mailer.

"What I care about is that people are talking about it and, in the process, learning more about our organization and the exceptional accomplishments that British Columbians have made both outside and within our province."

One smart thing that Hall decided not to do was attach any kind of definition to the word moment.

"It was the first thing we talked about, let's not put a restriction on it," says Beck. "Let people come up with their own definition. My definition of moment

might be much different than yours or any member of the public. It's not limited to a specific day or a year. We wanted to leave it as wide open as we can."

It's why the working list created by Beck and the historians includes such "moments" as brothers Lester and Frank Patrick building the first artificial ice arenas in Vancouver and Victoria in 1911 and the groundbreaking work in sport science of former distance runner Doug Clement and a group of University of B.C. colleagues. That list also includes such Olympic triumphs as: sprinter Percy Williams' double-gold in 1928 in Amsterdam; the rowing gold won by rowers George Hungerford and Roger Jackson at Tokyo in 1964; Simon Whitfield's inaugural triathlon gold in 2000 in Sydney; and Maelle Ricker's snowboardcross gold on home soil in 2010.

Since the public nomination process was unveiled in early December, Beck said the Hall has already received dozens of submissions through email, Facebook and Twitter.

Those include: Carey Price's four-trophy haul at the 2015 NHL awards; Cliff Thorburn's 1980 world snooker championship when he became the first person to record a maximum break at worlds; and the 1983 establishment in Burnaby of Electronic Arts Canada, creator of some of the world's most popular sports video games.

One of the more intriguing debates in the whittling-down process will be deciding what to do with the 2010 Vancouver-Whistler Olympics. Are the Games a "moment" unto themselves, or is there a place individually for Crosby's goal, Ricker's gold or figure skater Joannie Rochette's remarkable and emotional bronze-medal skate just two days after the death of her mother.

The decision to engage the public in a final vote on the top 50 moments was championed by Tom Mayenknecht, the marketing executive/TSN Radio host who is vice-chair of the Hall's board of trustees.

"Everyone's got their own biases and perspective and their own favourite sports," says Mayenknecht. "Having the public weigh in on the final selection will give us a much truer representation of what stands out in B.C. sports history."

The 50 Golden Moments project is just one aspect of the 50th anniversary celebrations for the Hall, which opened in August 1966 at the PNE's B.C. Pavilion before moving in 1992 to its current BC Place Stadium location.

The initial induction class included 34 athletes. The Hall has now honoured 359 individuals and 58 teams and has more than 25,000 artifacts and 20,000 archival documents.

By March, the Hall plans to unveil a sports history timeline, both in the museum and online. In June, a 50 Golden Moments exhibit will be opened. Just how that exhibit will be presented is still being formulated.

"There's been a lot of discussion on that one," says Mailer. "Do you pick one moment from each induction year, one athlete, or the best 50 artifacts? It's all about the best way to tell the stories."


Call to the hall: 50 golden moments

The public has until Friday, Jan. 22 at 5 p.m. to submit nominations to the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame for its 50 Golden Moments in B.C. sports history project. Have your say by emailing 50Moments@bcsportshalloffame.com with your favourite moment.

• Examples of great B.C. sports moments:

1852: B.C.'s first sports team, the Victoria Pioneer Cricket Club, is formed with regular matches played against teams from various naval ships at Beacon Hill Park.

1908: The New Westminster Salmonbellies win B.C.'s first national lacrosse title, defeating the Montreal Shamrocks 12-7 in a two-game, total-goal Minto Cup series.

1915: The Vancouver Millionaires win B.C.'s first Stanley Cup, sweeping the Ottawa Senators in three straight games at Denman Arena, outscoring the visitors 26-8.

1928: Vancouver's Percy Williams wins the 100-metre and 200-metre gold at the Amsterdam Summer Olympics.

1954: Roger Bannister edges John Landy to win the Miracle Mile at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games at Empire Stadium.

1961: The Trail Smoke Eaters defeat the Soviet Union 5-1 to clinch the world ice hockey championship in Switzerland. They are the last "club" team to win the title.

1964: The BC Lions win their first Grey Cup, defeating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 34-24 in Toronto. QB Joe Kapp and running back Willie Fleming lead the way.

1968: Breaking European domination of the slopes, Rossland's Nancy Greene wins giant slalom gold at the Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France.

1979: Vancouver Whitecaps win NASL's Soccer Bowl championship. An estimated 100,000 fans line city streets for a celebration parade.

2000: Two BC-based curling rinks - skipped by Kelley Law and Greg McAulay - win men's and women's world titles on the same day in Glasgow, Scotland.

2005: Victoria's Steve Nash becomes the first Canadian to win the NBA MVP award after leading the Phoenix Suns to a league-best 62-20 record.

2010: Sidney Crosby's overtime goal gives Canada victory over the U.S. in the gold medal game of the Olympic hockey tournament in Vancouver.

Canada's Sidney Crosby rejoices after scoring the winner in overtime as Canada beat the United States 3-2 in the gold medal hockey game at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Canada's Sidney Crosby rejoices after scoring the winner in overtime as Canada beat the United States 3-2 in the gold medal hockey game at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Photograph by: Canadian Press Files, The Province

Canada's Sidney Crosby rejoices after scoring the winner in overtime as Canada beat the United States 3-2 in the gold medal hockey game at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Joannie Rochette of Canada takes the bronze medal, days after her mother had died suddenly, at the Vancouver Winter Olympics in February 2010.
The BC Lions win the 1964 Grey Cup.
Nancy Greene wins gold at the 1968 Winter Olympics.
Gold medalists Canada's Kaillie Humphries (left) and Heather Moyse celebrate after the women's bobsleigh at the Vancouver Winter Olympics in Whistler in February 2010.
Vancouver’s Percy Williams wins the 100 metre final of the 1928 Summer Olympics.
The Trail Smoke Eaters capture the 1961 world ice hockey championship.
Roger Bannister(left) wins the 1954 Miracle Mile over Australia's John Landy (supporting him) at the British Empire Games at Vancouver's Empire Stadium..
Hugh ‘Eagle’ Lehman, who played for the Vancouver Millionaires. The Millionaires won this city’s only Stanley Cup title, in 1914-15.
Steve Nash is named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the 2004-2005 season.
Percy Williams, 200 metre finale winner at the 1928 Amsterdam Summer Olympic Games.
The Vancouver Whitecaps celebrate after winning the 1979 Soccer Bowl.
B.C.-based skips Kelley Law and Greg McAulay were women’s and men’s world curling champions, respectively, in 2000.
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