Gold Medal Diary

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HAYLEY WICKENHEISER

Douglas & McIntyre

Gold. It's beautiful, it's rare, it's valuable and everybody wants it. But it is something that only the few get to touch, and fewer yet get to keep. Hayley Wickenheiser is one of the few who has discovered Olympic gold in three different countries. In 2002, she found it in Salt Lake City and in 2006, she found it in Torino, Italy. Best of all, in February 2010, she struck gold in Canada after captaining her team to a 2-0 win over the Americans.

Fans had already seen Wickenheiser and he r teammates three times on the winners' podium (twice for gold and once for a silver in 1998 in Nagano), but it was this fourth time in Vancouver that was so special, so outstanding, so emotional. Commentators had long since run out of adjectives to describe how it felt to watch the women's hockey team stand on the podium to receive their gold medals while the national anthem played. It was the first time the Canadian women's team had won gold at home.

To let us in on the excitement of the Vancouver gold rush and the events that led up to it. Wickenheiser kept a diary that has now become a book titled Gold Medal Diary.

On the phone from Calgary, the woman sometimes referred to as Captain Canada sums up the feeling she experienced in finding gold on Canadian ice. "It was different," she says. "There were waves of positive emotion. It was my best Olympics."

The diary chronicles the hard work, the fun-filled moments and the sad ones - such as the tragedy of the Georgian luger's death, and later the sudden passing of Joannie Pochette's mother, lfs detailed, it's anecdotal, it's dramatic - it is everything a devout follower of Canadian women's hockey needs to get a taste of Olympic fever.

Wickenheiser, arguably the world's foremost female hockey player, has enough medals, honours and accolades to fill several suitcases, but there's nothing "been there, done that" about this diary. Wickenheiser's enthusiasm and commitment come through on every page.

Starting with the first pre-Olympics practice on August 9, 2009 six months before the February 2010 Olympic Games and ending with an entry on March 19 that reflects on the golden win. Wickenheiser never loses the sense of purpose and excitement that kept her and her teammates focused.

Sure, in between those two dates she is sometimes tired, even under the weather, even a little unsure. But she is never undeterred - a fact, an atmosphere, an attitude that comes across on every page. For example, in an October 2009 entry, she writes about the 3-1 win over the Americans in Victoria during the team's 31-game exhibition schedule. Wickenheiser terms it the "TSN Turning Point" and says it resulted in a different and more positive attitude in the dressing room.

But she pulls no punches in describing some of the negative occurrences. On November 21, she commented on a game in Edmonton with the South Side Athletic Club boys Midget AAA team, during which, probably because there was no hitting allowed, these 15- and 16-year-old boys were turned off and evidently spent the entire game "yap, yap, yapping," especially at Wickenheiser, verbally assaulting her while indulging in cheap head shots. In the last minute of the game, Dane Phaneuf, the younger brother of Dion Phaneuf, who plays for the Calgary Flames, banged into Wickenheiser behind the net, and she finally lost it. …