Hannah Kearney struck gold with a thrilling final run on Cypress Mountain to keep Canada waiting for a first home gold medal.
Canada’s reigning Olympic champion Jennifer Heil had the home crowd in raptures when a storming second run meant she led with just Kearney to race.
But 23-year-old Kearney held her nerve to take the gold medal with a combined score of 26.63 and ensure that Canada’s dubious distinction of being the only nation to never win a gold medal on home soil continues for a while longer.
Kearney said: “I heard the roar of the crowd when Jenn got her score so I knew I had to go for it.”
The Canadians could not deliver gold at the 1976 summer Games in Montreal or in the 1998 winter Games in Calgary and Kearney’s heroics prevented Heil from making history.
Heil had to settle for silver with a score of 25.69 while Hanover-born Kearney’s USA team-mate Shannon Bahrke claimed the bronze with a score of 25.43.
Despite her disappointment at being edged out of the gold medal spot, Heil predicted Canada’s wait would soon be over.
She said: “All I can say is that a gold medal is coming soon. I’m so proud of all the other athletes and I’ll be there cheering them on.”
Korean Lee Jung-Su claimed gold in a thrilling short track speed skating men’s 1500m final at the Pacific Coliseum.
It looked like a Korean clean sweep on the final lap but Lee’s team-mates Lee Ho-Suk and Sung Si-Bak fell at the last bend enabling American duo Ohno Apolo Anton and JR Celski to take the minor medals.
All eyes were on the Whistler Sliding Center for the first day of the men’s luge following the tragic death of Georgia’s Nodar Kumaritashvili in training on Friday.
Track modifications included a switch to the women’s start ramp and a reconfigured final curve and raised wall.
Kumaritashvili’s Georgian team-mate Levan Gureshidze did not compete and it was German Felix Loch who led at the halfway stage of the competition with a combined time of 1:36.570 for today’s two runs with countryman David Moller second and Italian double Olympic champion Armin Zoggeler in third.
In training for the women’s competition Romanian Violeta Stramaturaru was diagnosed with concussion after a training crash and, on the advice of doctors, withdrew from the competition.
Earlier Switzerland’s Simon Ammann produced a giant final round jump of 108 metres to claim the first gold medal of the Games in the men’s ski jumping competition at Whistler Olympic Park.
Poland’s Adam Malysz took the silver and Austria’s Gregor Schlierenzauer claimed the bronze medal.
Ammann, whose winning points total was 276.5, had led after the first round of jumps and the 28-year-old held his nerve brilliantly to produce the biggest jump of the competition and secure gold.
Malysz had a points total of 269.5 and Schlierenauer’s final round jump gave him 268.
Ammann, savouring his golden moment, said: “Life does not always go the way you want it to.
“This is why I want to cherish the moments and I’ve had a lot of luck in my career and also today.”
Holland’s Sven Kramer won the first medal on ice taking gold in the 5,000 metres speed skating with an Olympic record time.
Kramer took the title at the Richmond Olympic Oval in a time of six minutes, 14.60 seconds, 2.35 secs ahead of South Korea’s Lee Seung-Hoon.
Russia’s Ivan Skobrev was third in 6:18.05. Defending champion Chad Hendrick of the United States was a disappointing 11th.
Slovakian Anastazia Kuzmina took the gold medal in the women’s biathlon 7.5km sprint at Whistler Olympic Park with a winning time of 19:55.6.
The silver medal went to Germany’s Magdalena Neuner who had a final time of 19:57.1. Frenchwoman Marie Dorin claimed the bronze with a final time of 20:06.5.
Host nation Canada opened their women’s ice hockey campaign with a record-breaking 18-0 rout of Slovakia at Canada Hockey Place.
In the opening group match Sweden, silver-medallists in Turin four years ago, were comfortable 3-0 winners over Switzerland at the UBC Thunderbird Arena.