The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games were the second to be held in Canada, after Calgary in 1988.
Having hosted the 1988 Games and the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada had never won a gold medal on home-soil. Vancouver saw the breaking of this curse, with Alexandre Bilodeau pipping Australian Dale Begg-Smith for gold in the men's freestyle moguls.
This medal started a gold rush for the host nation, winning 14 golds and in doing so, breaking the record for the most gold medals won at a single Winter Olympics, which was 13, set by the former Soviet Union in 1976 and Norway in 2002. The United States won the most medals in total, their second time doing so at the Winter Olympics, and broke the record for the most medals won at a single Winter Olympics, with 37.
Australia at these Games
The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games were Australia's best ever, with a record three medals and a string of top ten finishes. Australia matched its team size from Torino 2006 with 40 athletes - however for the first time ever there was gender equality in an Australian Olympic Team, with 20 men and 20 women.
On Day 3 of competition, Australia held their breath as Dale Begg-Smith contested the men's moguls, defending champion in the event from Torino 2006. Begg-Smith, who had undergone knee surgery just months before the Games, placed fourth in the preliminary round and went into the evening's final with a tough shot at gold. Begg-Smith produced a fantastic run in the final to earn 26.58 points and a silver medal just behind local hero Alexandre Bilodeau (26.75).
Four days later, Australia would taste medal success again, with the stunning snowboard halfpipe display from Aussie champion Torah Bright. Having placed fifth in the event at Torino 2006, Bright came into the Vancouver Games as a true medal contendor, with a swag of world titles under her belt. Bright cruised throught the preliminary stage, entering the final in first place. With two runs to complete, Bright crashed out in the first, costing her dearly as she grabbed just 5.9 points. Posting the lowest score, Bright was forced to face the pipe first in the second run – a position no rider desires. Bright produced a crisp run with five near-perfect trick executions, earning her a huge score of 45.00. With eleven riders still to compete, Australians everywhere held their breath as one after another the champion pipe riders failed to meet Bright's tremendous score. The young athlete from Cooma secured the gold medal, writing herself into the history books as Australia's first ever snowboarding medallist.
With four fantastic Aussie women in the freestyle aerials contest, the nation's expectations were high. Games veteran Jacqui Cooper, two-time Olympian Liz Gardner and Lydia Lassila all reached the finals and in heavy fog at Cypress Mountain, it was Lydia's time to shine. Having suffered a devastating injury during qualifications at the Torino Games four years earlier, Lassila (then Ierodiaconou) made a fairytale comeback to contest her third Olympics in Vancouver. Facing tough competition from her Chinese rivals, Lassila maintained her focus and landed two outstanding jumps to win gold with an Olympic record total score of 214.74. Cooper, after some difficulty in training and warm-up, showed what a true champion she is to finish in fifth place, landing a Back-Full-Full-Full for a total score of 194.29.
Lassila's gold took Australia to a total of three medals, our best ever Winter Olympic result. Along with the hardware came a number of significant results that indicate Australia's growth in winter sports.
Australia was the fifth top nation in women’s results and nine athletes finished in the top ten: Torah Bright - 1st – Halfpipe; Lydia Lassila - 1st – Aerials; Dale Begg-Smith – 2nd – Moguls; Jacqui Cooper – 5th – Aerials; Tatiana Borodulina – 7th - 1000m Short Track; Scott Kneller – 7th – Skicross; Holly Crawford – 8th – Halfpipe; Emma Lincoln-Smith – 10th - Skeleton; Damon Hayler – 10th – snowboard cross.
Vancouver was the fifth consecutive Winter Games where Australia has won a medal, following the bronze medal won in the short track skating relay in Lillehammer in 1994.
Sophie Muir became the first Australian woman to compete in speed skating at a Games, and did so after taking up the sport just 15 months before the Games. In luge, Hannah Campbell-Pegg became Australia's first ever dual-Olympian in the sport.
Australia had the honour of having the youngest male and female athletes at the Games - Britteny Cox (freestyle moguls) and Scotty james (snowboard halfpipe).
Torah Bright carried the Australian flag at the Opening Ceremony and Lydia Lassila carried the flag at the Closing.