Canadian gold rush puts hosts on top of world

Canada has a chance to break Russia's record for the most golds at a Winter Olympics. (REUTERS)

Canada bagged another three golds on the penultimate day of the Winter Olympics on Saturday to ensure they will finish top of the medal standings, triggering wild celebrations across the country.

It is the first time Canada has topped the medal standings at the Winter or Summer Olympics and followed a remarkable turnaround in fortunes.

Just a week ago, the hosts were facing public demands for a full investigation into their failure to win more golds, but they have piled up nine in six days to soar past their rivals and ignite a wave of patriotism.

"Everyone was worried that we weren't going to get a gold medal on home soil. To come out with the most number of gold medals is the complete opposite," said Lucas Makowsky, a member of the Canadian men's speedskating pursuit team that struck gold.

"It's something that's pretty incredible for our Canadian athletes and our sporting system in general."

Snowboarder Jasey Jay Anderson won the men's parallel giant slalom and Canada's men also won the curling final to lift the home nation's golden tally to a record-equalling 13 with just two events left on Sunday before the closing ceremony.

Poland won their first gold in the women's 30km cross country race as Justyna Kowalczyk sprinted to the finish to deny Norway's Marit Bjoergen her fourth gold by less than a ski's length. The German women won their speedskating pursuit final following a bizarre semi-final in which Anna Friesinger-Postma belly-flopped on the ice in the final straight and paddled across the line in the nick of time.

The US won gold when their so-called "Night Train," the four-man bobsleigh team led by Steve Holcomb, earned the US their first triumph in the event since 1948. Germany were second and Canada third.

Canada beat the US in a tight race to win the men's speedskating pursuit final with the bronze going to the Netherlands.

The host nation then defeated Norway in the men's curling final, the last gold medal decided on Saturday, with Switzerland claiming the bronze.

Canada's total of 13 golds equalled the record for the most for any country at a Winter Olympics after the Soviet Union won 13 at Innsbruck in 1976 and Norway matched the mark at Salt Lake City in 2002.

Canada would set a new mark by winning either of the two golds on offer on Sunday, the men's 50km cross-country skiing and the men's ice hockey final.

 

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