PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – An alleged drunken joyride involving ski cross racer Dave Duncan put a black mark on another successful day for Canada at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games.
Sebastien Toutant added to Canada’s medal count Saturday with a gold in big air snowboarding, and the men’s Olympic hockey team rebounded from a tough semifinal loss to Germany a day ago to beat the Czech Republic 6-4 for bronze.
The hardware gave Canada, which had already set a national record for most medals at a Winter Olympics, a total of 29 going into the final day of competition. But the arrest of Duncan, his wife Maja and technical coach William Raine took some of the lustre off Canada’s success and was a black eye for a country with the slogan “Be Virtuous, Be Victorious, Be Olympic.”
The Canadian Olympic Committee confirmed in a statement Saturday that the Duncans and Raine had been detained by police in South Korea and were now released.
The statement came after an investigator with the Gangwon Provincial Police Department told The Canadian Press the two Canadians and an American woman were arrested for allegedly drunk driving and stealing a car.
A joint statement from the Duncans offering an apology did not offer specifics, saying only their behaviour “was not up to the standards expected of us as members of the Canadian Olympic Team or as Canadians.” But Raine singled out “the owner of the vehicle that was involved” in his statement.
“I would like to apologize profusely for my inexcusable actions,” said Raine, the son of Canadian skiing legend Nancy Greene. “Words are not enough to express how sorry I am. I have let my teammates, friends and my family down.”
Police say the group stole a car while drunk and drove it to the athletes’ village. Detective Heejun Lee told The Canadian Press that “the manager,” not Duncan, was the driver of the vehicle.
He said the driver had a blood alcohol level of .162 — the legal limit is .05 — and the vehicle stolen was a Hummer.
“We expect our athletes and team members to conduct themselves responsibly and in keeping with our Canadian and Olympic values,” Canadian Olympic Committee CEO Chris Overholt said in the statement released Saturday. “We are deeply disappointed in the behaviours of these individuals. All team members are expected to respect the laws of South Korea and all places we compete in around the world.”
Also Saturday, short-track speedskater Kim Boutin of Sherbrooke, Que., who claimed a silver and two bronze medals in her Olympic debut, was named Canada’s flag-bearer for Sunday’s closing ceremony.
There was less joy on the ice as Ottawa’s Ivanie Blondin, a favourite to win a medal in the women’s mass start, crashed in her semifinal and was eliminated.
Meanwhile cross-country skier Alex Harvey of St-Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que., came achingly close to the podium in what could be his last Olympic race, finishing fourth in the men’s 50-kilometre mass start.
Canada headed into Sunday’s final day of competition in second place in the overall medal standings with a solid chance for another medal. The four-man bobsled piloted by Justin Kripps of Summerland, B.C., was fourth after Saturday’s first two runs.
Norway leads the medal standings with 38 medals, followed Canada at 29 (11 gold, eight silver, 10 bronze) and Germany at 28. Norway and Germany lead in gold medals with 13 each, while Canada’s 11 is good for third.
Canada’s highest medal count at a Winter Olympics prior to Pyeongchang was 26 at the 2010 Vancouver Games. Canada did win 14 gold medals at that Games, a number now out of reach in Pyeongchang.
Toutant, from L’Assomption, Que., outperformed Canadian medal favourites Max Parrot and Mark McMorris in the big air final at Pheonix Park.
Toutant scored 84.75 points on his first run and 89.50 on his second for a combined 174.25 points. He didn’t land his final run, but he didn’t need to — the top two scores of a rider’s three runs make up their final score.
“It’s such a big day for snowboarding because we got to show at such a high scale what it’s all about,” Toutant said. “I’m just happy to be that guy, that day, who won it.”
Kyle Mack of the United States won silver with 168.75 points and Britain’s Billy Morgan took bronze with 168.00.
Parrot of Bromont, Que., who won silver in slopestyle last week, finished ninth while Regina’s McMorris, the slopestyle bronze medallist, was 10th after struggling to land his first two jumps.
Toutant hadn’t won a World Cup in big air since 2011 in Stoneham, Que. He finished the World Cup season ranked 10th.
Canada picked up a second medal with an entertaining win over the Czechs in the men’s hockey bronze-medal match.
Just 24 hours after going down 4-3 to the unheralded Germans, things looked bleak after yet another sluggish Canadian start. But a flurry of first- and third-period goals turned the tide Canada’s way.
“It feels unbelievable. It’s hard to put into words right now. I’m so happy,” forward Rob Klinkhammer said. “Last night was obviously a letdown and it was super-tough to put that one way behind us. Everyone woke up pretty devastated just with our effort. I’m so proud of the guys for coming together and rallying like that 24 hours later.
“We had a great game, I thought everyone just bought into the system. I’m an Olympic medal winner now. I can’t believe it.”
Typically a third-place finish is no cause for celebration in Canadian hockey. But in a tournament devoid of NHL stars, the blue-collar Canadians were all smiles while receiving their bronze medals. Players waved to those in the stands and also posed for a team picture.
Germany and a team of Russian players compete for gold on Sunday.
While it was redemption for Team Canada on the ice, it was heartbreak for Harvey in cross-country skiing. He was 6.1 seconds back of third-place finisher Andrey Larkov of the Olympic Athletes from Russia. Finland’s Iivo Niskanen won the race in two hours eight minutes 22.1 seconds while Russian Alexander Bolshunov took silver.
“It would have been easier finishing fifth or sixth than fourth. For me, it’s not a disappointment, except the position. The manner, the preparation, the execution, I’m proud of all that. … There’s no regrets, it’s the number that’s a bit bitter,” Harvey said. “That’s life, it’s not the end of the world for me.”
Meanwhile at the speedskating oval in Gangneung, Blondin crashed in the semifinal of mass start — which made its Olympic debut in Pyeongchang — wiping out two competitors in the process to wrap up her time in South Korea without a medal from four events.
“I’m distraught right now. It’s disappointing,” Blondin said after missing out on a medal in her favourite event. “Not being on the podium is disappointing.
“But it’s not going to stop me in the future.”
In other snowboarding competition, Canada was shut out of a medal in parallel giant slalom.
Jasey-Jay Anderson of Mont-Tremblant, Que., finished 24th in the 32-man field in one minute 26.76 seconds while Darren Gardner of Burlington, Ont., was 28th in 1:26.94. The top 16 competitors advanced to the afternoon elimination rounds.
The 42-year-old Anderson, who won a World Cup event a month ago, is the only Canadian to compete in six different Winter Olympics. He won gold at the Vancouver Games.
Anderson talked with reporters for 20 minutes after the qualification and didn’t mince words about what he felt was the inferior upkeep of the facility.
“I was expecting to have a good platform to be able to push off of and it was there for the first five gates and then it just went to hell,” he said. “Nothing. So unfortunately I kept chattering on each toe side because it was bumpy. They all have rakes at each gate but they’re not using them.
“They’re just leaning up against them. They don’t know how. They’re very ill-prepared for this event. It’s unfortunate. It’s really, really unfortunate.”
Kripps and his four-man bobsled of Alex Kopacz of London, Ont., Jesse Lumsden of Burlington, Ont., and Ottawa’s Seyi Smith sit just off podium position in fourth place after the first two heats. The final four heats were scheduled for Sunday.
“I’m super proud of the boys, pumping off some huge starts,” said Kripps. “We just got to find a bit more speed down the bottom and we’ll move up tomorrow.”
Hamilton’s Nick Poloniato and his crew were 13th while Chris Spring of Priddis, Alta., was 15th.
Spring was not happy with his combined time of 1:38.64 and gave reporters an expletive-laced rant after his second run.
“I get to the bottom and see this garbage time that’s given to me. Wasting my time with this (expletive). It’s just time after time,” said Spring. “I do this sport and so many times I see the result at the bottom and I’m like, ‘What the (expletive) is going on?’ Where is the time? It doesn’t add up to me. Especially when I watch other runs.
“It’s like that in all the sliding sports I feel. It’s not always indicative of the performance you put down. The time at the bottom doesn’t always correlate with that.”