VIII Çèìíèå Îëèìïèéñêèå Èãðû. 18-28 ôåâðàëÿ 1960 ãîäà. Ñêâî-Âýëëè. ÑØÀ
29.02.1960. By Andy O`Brien. Ottawa Citizen.
Squaw Valley - Maybe you aren’t too happy about Canada winning only the silver medal in hockey here yesterday but it was interesting to note in the dressing room that our players weren’t either. On the other hand the scene was a lot more congenial there than in the Russian room where the bronze medal boys looked as if they had all been assigned on waivers to Siberia.
To be perfectly blunt about it, the much-ballyhooed 1960 Olympic Winter Games wind-up was far from a thriller, but we did win by a decisive 8-5 score. Our representatives lost only one game and tied none in fiver stars while their prime targets, the 1956 Olympic championship Russians won only two in five, lost two and tied one.
There “Dam Yankee” Americans proved the upstart up setters but we can’t take any credit away from them. They won it on more skill than we expected to see and as much sheer, breakneck, fighting spirit as I have ever seen in hockey. After more than quarter-century watching great hockey teams fighting it out around a goodly chunk of this glove, I am still profoundly awed at the power of spirited attack. It makes champions of also-run.
And why not?
We sent what is generally felf to have been the best team we could send under the restrictions of the Olympic oath. Eight players were from the Kitchener Dutchies, four from Whiby, tow from Catham, one form Windsor, one from Belleville, and one from Brockville Juniors - Bob Rousseau, rated the best junior in hockeydom. Yet we didn’t win. Why not?
My personal impressions was that, despite the effort of planners and players, we sent a team that didn’t match up with Canadian hockey traditions. But maybe we have just been spoiled by supremacy.
On the other hand let us consider it form the viewpoint of the rinkside observer, Bobby Bauer, who coached our Olympic team in Italy as well as here. A very tired guy who had caused alarm the night before by collapsing with what was thought to be a heart attack, Bobby said in the private interview:
“I had a better team this time than in Italy. More finesse. More scoring power - we did outscore in total goals the opposition. Only the champion Americans had less against - and even they by only one goal. The fact is that the opposition has improved immensely. For instance did you notice how the Russians were faking against us? In Italy they relied on passing. The upper bracket opposition have developed the skills of hockey.”
Evaluating Hockey Picture.
Two whopping beg European papers Spain’s (Barcelona) El Mundo Deportivo and France’s (Paris) L`Equpe threw a list of Games survey queries at me including one asking for my evaluation of the “international hockey picture”. The world international no longer is adequate with Asia and Australia added to North American and European competition.
My answer rated the United stats on the upsurge with more artificial rings and improved coaching indicating a vas new field of talent which is held back by only on major obstacle, namely compulsory military service entering at an age when hockey skills are entering final development. Canada is still the world’s greatest hockey nation but, judging by off-the-records comments from Olympic officials here, I know we still have to overhaul our entire approach to entering an indisputable amateur team (such as the Americans) before 1964.
Russia seems to have hit the leveling off stage. Hockey talent develops to certain plateau then levels off and finally starts on the decline. They are depending too much on aging talent. Talking to the players through interpreters informed me they have only six teams that could be included in the same league as the one here, the bottom one of which now rates fairly even with the top Czech team. But, it is added, if the Commie bosses decided to go all-out they could have one million players to draw from in Russia.
The Czech had the best two periods in the Olympics. Leslie Horsky, next year’s coach of the national team, told me there are three to leagues now operating there. Each year the two last teams of the second league move up. Ditto between second and third. Players come up to all three from district leagues. This set-up poses a major threat.
We beat the Swedes twice but looked awful in winning first time and had to come from behind a seemingly overwhelming 4-1 count the second time.
Germany remains a weak sister. Ditto Finland. Japan and Australia, representatives f new continents, had no right in such completion where fan are charged admittance but Japan, after 12-3 Olympic win (over Australia), is plenty proud. A spokesman, perfectly bilingual, talked to me for an hour of the eight-city enthusiasm in Japan, particularly in Tokio and Hiroshima, where crowds of 5,000 root for their teams. The national team, now here, was drawn from 1000 industrial teams with the majority of players coming from Manchuria where natural ice provides more training facilities. When I mentioned their small stature handcup, the Japanese companion quickly retorted: “How about Heri Richard, Ted Lindsay and Camille Henry?”.
Our once own game of hockey seems to be getting around.
Squaw Vallye Wrap-Up
Biggest thrill: Ottawas’s wee Anne Heggiveit plunging the height of six-story building in her first run to the slalom gold medal through 53 gates in 54 seconds. . . Biggest flop: the showing of the Russian hockey team. . . Best prospect of future Olympic fame: Toronto’s 15-years old Wendy Griner despite ending 12ht in the overall ladies’s figure skating.
Most amusing incident: Myrtle (Montreal Star) Cook asked retired Canadian figure skating champion Carole Jane Pachl who speaks fluent Czechoslovakian to seat herself next to Czech hockey team during their game against Canada “to listen in on comments.” Canada won that one, 4-0. Halfway through the game Carole returned to the press box with her pretty face reflecting sheer horror. “You won’t be able to use a word of it,” she told Myrtle, “I never heard such language.”