Northug wins gold as Canada braces for hockey

Sun Feb 28, 2010 3:23pm EST
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By Julian Linden

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Norway's Petter Northug won the men's 50km cross country skiing gold medal on the final day of the Winter Olympics Sunday as Vancouver braced itself for the men's ice hockey match between Canada and the United States.

Northug overcame treacherous conditions at the Whistler Olympic Park to win the lung-bursting event just ahead of Germany's Axel Teichmann while Sweden's Johan Olsson came third in a race marred by rain and snow, which made the going slippery and caused several crashes.

The cross-country was the penultimate event of the Games and served as the perfect light appetizer to the men's ice-hockey final, the most eagerly awaited match-up of the Olympics.

Downtown Vancouver was a sea of red and white maple leafs as thousands of people flooded into the central business district in preparation for the match.

Outside every restaurant and bar, there were long queues of people, some stretching for more than one city block.

Some had been waiting in line for more than four hours just to get a seat, most wearing Canada's national colors, in anticipation of a dream ending to the Games.

"It's our game, we invented it and we're going to win the gold," said Gordy Ford of Ontario.

Near him, dressed in an Uncle Sam outfit, was an American keen to join in the friendly repartee.   Continued...

<p>Canada's skip Kevin Martin (R-L), John Morris, Marc Kennedy, Ben Hebert and alternate Adam Enright celebrate with their gold medals after defeating Norway in their men's gold medal curling game at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics February 27, 2010. REUTERS/Andy Clark</p>