Olympic heroes: 9 months later
They captivated us. They dazzled us. They made us believe. And in some cases, they broke our hearts.
There was no shortage of Canadian heroes at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
And, nine months later, here's a look at what some of them are up to now:
Canada's agonizing wait for Olympic gold on home soil was ended by the 23-year-old from Rosemère, Que., on Feb. 14, 2010. Overnight, the moguls star became a sensation, appearing on talk shows, public speaking engagements, and the like. Analysts say it's the most valuable gold medal a Canadian amateur Olympian has won, and could possibly net him an annual salary of $250,000-$500,000.
What is he up to? Bilodeau threw the first pitch at the Toronto Blue Jays' home opener in April, and just this past week was the keynote speaker at the annual Gold Medal Plates dinner in Saskatoon, which acts as a fundraiser for Canadian Olympic athletes.
Bilodeau will be back in action with the Canadian freestyle team for the 2010-11 World Cup season, and has a new coach overseeing his progress to the 2014 Sochi Games, as former Canadian national development coach Michel Hamelin will take over from Dominick Gauthier. The moguls season begins Dec. 11 in Ruka, Finland.
A huge part of the Olympic marketing campaign during the leadup to the Games, big things were expected from the 26-year-old, who was favoured to stand atop the podium. And she delivered. The Whistler, B.C., native became the first women's Olympic skicross champion in history.
What is she up to? Like many golden Canadian athletes, her life has taken an "insanely busy" turn. Sponsorship deals, autograph signings, a pin-up calendar appearance for breast cancer awareness, modelling down a runway during Toronto Fashion Week in March, an ESPY nomination, and mountain biking with ET Canada's Rick Campanelli (seriously) are just some of the things McIvor's done since her gold-medal winning performance.
She put her skis back on for a training camp in Switzerland with other skicross teammates in late October to get ready for the 2010-11 World Cup season, which begins in Italy on Dec. 18.
One of the most heartbreaking images of the Vancouver Games was of Hollingsworth tearfully apologizing to Canadians on national TV, after a disastrous final run in the skeleton saw her drop from second to fifth. Hollingsworth was favoured to win gold in the event, and said she felt like she "let my entire country down."
What is she up to? Since then, the Olympic gold-medal favourite from Eckville, Alta., has received a deluge of e-mails, letters, and messages from Canadians across the country, all offering their support. She's been overwhelmed with speaking requests for schools, telling her story to kids and using it to motivate her listeners.
She also took a turn doing colour commentary for CBC during the Calgary Stampede over the summer, and intends to qualify for the Alberta Barrel Racing Association finals next year. Now, the 30-year-old is back to focusing on skeleton and another four-year cycle leading up to the Sochi 2014 Games. She handily won the women's Canadian skeleton championship just last weekend in Calgary, her first race since the Olympics.
Canada's most beloved amateur athlete was given one of the best sporting swan songs in the country's history during the Games.
The long-track speedskating star wasn't expected to hit the podium in Vancouver, her fifth Olympics (including summer and winter). But spurred on by a raucous crowd at the Richmond Olympic Oval, Hughes, 37 at the time, skated to a bronze medal in the women's 3,000 metres. It was her sixth Olympic medal.
What is she up to? Seriously, the question should be what isn't Hughes up to? She's a major spokesperson for the charity organization Right to Play, which has seen her travel to Ethiopia, Ghana, and Rwanda promoting sport and healthy lifestyles. Next she will begin a trek to First Nations communities across the country as part of the program.
Hughes has also teamed with Bell for an initiative to raise awareness and funds for mental health issues, and she was given her own star on Canada's Walk of Fame in mid-October. She recieved the Order of Canada in April, and will be formally inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame on Nov. 10.
Heather Moyse & Kaillie Humphries
The country's most successful event at the Games was the women's two-man bobsleigh, which saw Canadian sleds take gold and silver. Standing atop that podium were driver Kaillie Humphries and brakeman Heather Moyse in Canada 1, belting out a heartfelt rendition of "O Canada" along with the rest of the country.
What are they up to? Moyse hasn't taken much time off after her gold-medal win. A two-sport star, Moyse returned to the rugby pitch and competed for Canada at the women's Rugby World Cup at the end of August, where the team finished sixth.
But in the fifth-place game against the U.S., Moyes rolled her right ankle and needed surgery to repair it. This means she was unable to compete in the Canadian bobsleigh championships last weekend and may miss the first World Cup event at the Whistler Sliding Centre, where Moyse and Humphries won Olympic gold, on Nov.22-28.
Humphries, who last month travelled to Europe with her husband before training began, didn't compete in the Canadian trials and it's not known whether she will employ another brakeman in Whistler if Moyes is unable to race.
Few will forget Montgomery's victory march through Whistler's streets on the way to a post-race interview, when he was given a pitcher of Canadian suds while whooping it up through a massive crowd. The skeleton gold-medallist subsequently chugged half the pitcher down and later used his auctioning skills to sell off the rest.
What is he up to? Aside from Oprah? Montgomery has rocketed to stardom after the Games, using his newfound capital through numerous speaking engagements (and a sponsorship with a seed company) to fund his skeleton career and become a full-time athlete. And he's off to a good start, winning the Canadian men's skeleton championship last weekend, setting him up well for the first World Cup event in Whistler later this month. He plans to defend his gold in Sochi 2014.
Along with Hughes, Montgomery is also heavily involved in the Right to Play organization, travelling to Uganda over the summer as part of the program. Fittingly, a trip to the World's Greatest Pub Crawl in England with Montgomery and comedian Ron James was just auctioned off at the Gold Medal Plates dinner in Saskatoon.
Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir
Many called it Canada's "Bolero." Twenty-six years after British ice dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean performed possibly the greatest Olympic routine in history, two young Canadians stepped onto Olympic ice and gave onlookers flashbacks. Virtue and Moir's free dance to Mahler's Symphony No. 5. was as close to perfection as you could get, becoming one of the iconic moments of the Games and cementing gold for the duo.
What are they up to? Dinner with the Queen of England. Oh, and shin surgery. Watching Virtue and Moir's pressure-packed free dance was stressful enough for Canadians - imagine how they would've felt if they knew how much pain Virtue was in while she was performing. The 21-year-old's chronic shin problems were at their worst during the Games and, Virtue revealed a week ago, made a 10-minute walk an excruciating endeavour. In order to alleviate the pain, Virtue underwent surgery in early October, which will force her and Moir to have an abbreviated Grand Prix season.
The pair's incredible chemistry — which comes from a partnership that has lasted 14 years - has been chronicled in a book, titled Tessa & Scott: Our Journey from Childhood Dream to Gold, which launched on Nov. 1. Virtue and Moir intend to defend their world title this season, but are still uncommitted to the 2014 Olympics.
Charles Hamelin & Marianne St-Gelais
Both halves of the Canadian short-track supercouple stole the show at the Olympics. St-Gelais came out of nowhere to win silver in the 500 metres — on her 20th birthday, no less. And she followed that up with silver in the women's relay.
Later on in the Games it was Hamelin's turn, winning two gold medals in one night in the 500 and the relay — and nobody was happier than St-Gelais, who vigorously cheered Hamelin on the entire way and greeted him after the 500 at track-side with what has now been dubbed "The Kiss."
What are they up to? The pair and the rest of the Canadian short-track team are knee-deep in the 2010-11 World Cup season, and have already picked up a bunch of new hardware. St-Gelais has five medals (two gold, two silvers, one bronze) in the first two World Cup events, while Hamelin has won four golds.
St-Gelais is staying behind to train when the circuit heads to China in December, but Hamelin will make the trek. Both have committed to making a run at the 2014 Olympics.
One of the greatest curling skips in history had to wait eight long years for another shot at elusive Olympic gold. And when he got another chance at it in Vancouver, he wasn't going to be denied. Martin and his rink went a perfect 11-0 in the Olympic tournament, outscoring opponents 87-42 over that span, and capped it all off by cruising to a 6-3 win over Norway in the gold-medal game.
What is he up to? If you think he's going to rest on his laurels after finally winning Olympic gold, think again. He and his Edmonton-based rink have already won nearly every curling honour you can think of, but they are determined to defend their Olympic title in four years in Sochi.
For now, Martin and his rink of Marc Kennedy, Ben Hebert and John Morris, will busy themselves with the Grand Slam of Curling season.
Oh, and also make guest spots on CBC's curling-themed sitcoms.
Martin, dubbed "The Old Bear," is targeting 18 Grand Slam victories - the equivalent of Jack Nicklaus' (The "Golden Bear") total number of golf majors. He's on 15 right now. But he came up short at the World Cup of Curling over the weekend, as his rink was eliminated in the quarter-finals.
Captain Canada. Women's hockey icon. Three-time gold medallist. Wickenheiser, 32, became the all-time leading goal-scorer in women's hockey at the Vancouver Olympics, her fourth Games. Then she helped lead Canada to gold, beating the Americans 2-0. The Shaunavon, Sask., native's two goals and nine assists during the tournament was good for a tie for sixth on the scoring list.
What is she up to? After four Olympics, countless world championships, and three pro seasons in men's elite leagues in Europe, you wouldn't fault Wickenheiser if she wanted to take a break. But then again, that's not who she is.
Wickenheiser is back on the ice, studying kinesiology at the University of Calgary and playing CIS women's hockey for the first time in her career. She knows her coach well, too, as Wickenheiser was teammates with Danielle Goyette for years on the Canadian national team, winning gold in Turin 2006 and Salt Lake City 2002.
And would it surprise you to know that she was named the CIS Canada West athlete of the week a couple weekends ago and is currently leading the Canada West scoring race, with nine goals and ten assists in eight games?