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Scorer of the winning goal for Canada in overtime of the ice hockey final at the 2010 Vancouver Games, Sidney Crosby went on to captain his country to a second successive Olympic title in Sochi four years later.
On 28 February 2010, the final day of the Olympic Winter Games, the streets of Vancouver were practically deserted. Its inhabitants could be found gathered in bars or in their living rooms, surrounded by family and friends, intent on witnessing the Olympic ice hockey final between Canada and the USA.
In an absolutely packed Canada Hockey Place, a tense encounter developed in an exceptional atmosphere. At the end of regulation time, the two teams were tied at 2-2. Seven minutes into overtime, Sidney Crosby exchanged passes with Jarome Iginla and slotted the puck between the legs of American goaltender Ryan Miller for a memorable golden goal, delivering an Olympic title that produced joyous celebrations across the country. Crosby, an instant national hero, was feted by his countrymen well into the night.
Born into a family of ice hockey enthusiasts, including a father who had played at junior level, it was somewhat inevitable that Crosby would pick up a stick at an early age. At five, he was already training with local youth teams and practicing in the basement of his home in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.
By the age of seven, the talented No87 was already appearing regularly in the local press. A gifted passer with an eye for goal, he gradually developed into a highly effective centre, and at 16 played an integral role in Canada’s run to the final of the 2004 IIHF World Junior Championships, where they lost to the USA. He was also involved in the 2005 edition of the tournament, where he and his team-mates defeated Russia to claim gold.
The following year, Crosby was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League (NHL). He got his professional career off to a fantastic start, setting new franchise records for assists and points (goals plus assists) by a rookie. Earning the nickname “Sid the Kid”, his influence proved crucial in the rise of the Penguins, whom he would later captain and lead to the Stanley Cup finals in 2008, where they lost to the Detroit Red Wings.
Twelve months later, he and his team-mates went one step further, gaining revenge on Detroit in a best-of-seven series (4-3). On 12 June 2009, a 21-year-old Crosby became the youngest skipper in ice hockey history to lift the famous trophy.
The first-line centre continued to excel in the NHL, and was later named captain of the Canadian team that would attempt to defend their Olympic title at Sochi 2014. The North Americans proceeded to win their first five matches in Russia, setting up a gold-medal duel with Sweden on 23 February. It was during the final at the Bolshoy Ice Dome that Crosby, who had failed to find the net up to that point, opened his account when it mattered most, putting his team 2-0 up in the second period. A final score of 3-0 saw Team Canada and their captain collect their ninth and second Olympic titles respectively.
“It’s amazing!” he exclaimed after the comprehensive victory. “Listen, in Vancouver there was nothing in it; we won in overtime. Since then, lots of things have happened. To be in the same situation again, alongside lots of guys who were part of the team in Vancouver, is really special. We all believed in each other, and in our style of play. We didn’t change anything – that speaks volumes about this group of players.”