Sweden basks in golden glow in Vancouver.
Sweden took home 11 medals from the 2010 Winter Olympics.
by Chipp Reid
Sweden walked away from the 2010 Winter Olympics with its head held high after picking up 11 medals – good for eighth overall – while setting a new team mark for medals in ski events.
The blue and yellow eclipsed its mark of 6 medals in skiing events, set at St. Moritz in 1948, winning seven skiing medals at Vancouver. Marcus Hellner won a pair of golds while Anna Haag and Charlotte Kalla each won gold and silver in skiing events. Hellner won the Men’s 30 kilometer pursuit cross-country race, beating heavily favored Norwegian skier Petter Northug by a wide margin. Hellner was also part of the gold-medal-winning 4 X 10 kilometer relay team. Once more, Sweden topped a much-hyped Norwegian team, beating its rivals by more than 15 seconds.
Hellner teamed with Anders Sodergren, Daniel Richardsson, and Johan Olsson with the gold. Olsson also took a bronze in the 30 kilometer pursuit.
Kalla won gold in the 10 kilometer cross-country race and teamed with Haag to take the silver in the women’s team sprint. Haag also took silver in the women’s 15 kilometer pursuit race.
Bjorn Ferry was another gold-medal winner, taking the top honors in the 12.5 kilometer biathlon pursuit.
Two more skiers that won medals but were disappointed with their performance were Anja Pärson and André Myhrer. Pärson was out to defend the gold she won in the Super G at Torino, but didn’t finish the race after crashing out. She earned plaudits for coming back to take third in the super-combined but never really skied up to her full potential.
Myhrer also voiced disappointment at winning just a bronze in the men’s slalom Myhrer is Sweden’s top male skier on the World Cup circuit but never showed his full form in Vancouver.
The biggest disappointments, however, came in hockey. The women, after reaching the gold medal game at Torino and taking the silver in a loss to Canada, never really got untracked at Vancouver. The U.S. and Canada slapped the Swedes around in the opening round and semifinals. Sweden reached the bronze-medal game, but lost 3-2 to Finland.
The men didn’t quite flop the way they did in 2002, but they never found the magic that led them to the gold medal four years ago. Most of the team from Torino returned to defend the 2006 gold but four years of NHL combat clearly took its toll.
The Tre Kronor often looked tired as younger teams, especially Slovakia in the quarterfinals, skated circles around the Swedes. The first line of Henrik and Daniel Sedin and Mattias Weinhandl never really clicked, although the tournament cemented the star status of Loui Eriksson and a pair of unlikely sounding Swedes – Doug Murray and Johnny Oduya.
If the hockey teams failed to live up to their billing, the men’s and women’s curling teams surpassed even the wildest expectations.
Annette Nordberg and her rink successfully defended their gold medal from Torino, holding off the Canadians in the final. The Swedes showed incredible poise as fans packed the Whistler Arena to cheer on the Canadians. King Carl XV Gustaf and Queen Silvia attended the final and rose to their feet as Nordberg closed out the Canadians in extra ends.
Niklas Edin and the men went into Vancouver Games simply looking to play well. They did exactly that, reaching the semifinals where they lost to Canada. The bronze-medal game was a rematch of the European Championship finals, pitting the Swedes against the Swiss, although this time the Swiss came out on top.