Published February 26, 2010
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The women of the Canadian hockey team politely accepted their gold medals and waved to an adoring crowd. And then the real celebration began.
More than half an hour after they beat the United States 2-0 on Thursday, the players came back from the locker room and staged a party on ice -- swigging from bottles of champagne, guzzling beer and smoking cigars.
In a sport that Canada invented, there was never an option besides gold, and with it finally in hand, the home team let loose.
Meghan Agosta and Marie-Philip Poulin posed wearing goofy grins. Rebecca Johnston actually tried to drive the ice-resurfacing machine. Haley Irwin poured champagne into the mouth of Tessa Bonhomme, gold medals swinging from both their necks.
The celebration raised eyebrows at the IOC, which said it would look into the matter. Informed of the antics by The Associated Press, Gilbert Felli, the IOC's executive director of the Olympic Games, said it was "not what we want to see."
"I don't think it's a good promotion of sport values," he said. "If they celebrate in the changing room, that's one thing, but not in public. We will investigate what happened."
Poulin, who scored both goals, doesn't turn 19 -- legal drinking age in British Columbia -- until next month. The drinking age in Alberta, where the Canadian team trains, is 18. Photos showed Poulin on the ice with a beer in her hand.
"We understand that they were asked to go back onto the playing field after the stadium had emptied to take a photo," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. "We understand that some people may have felt that their behavior was over-exuberant."
Steve Keough, a spokesman for the Canadian Olympic Committee, said the COC had not provided the alcohol nor initiated the party.
"In terms of the actual celebration, it's not exactly something uncommon in Canada," he said.
While the committee does not condone irresponsibility, Keough said, "I think Canadians understand it's quite an emotional moment for our team. It was not our intention to go against any IOC protocols."
Not even uncommon at these Olympics. After Jon Montgomery won a gold medal for Canada in skeleton, he walked through the streets of Whistler guzzling from a pitcher of beer that he gripped with two hands.
American Scotty Lago, who won a bronze in halfpipe, voluntarily left the games after a photo surfaced of a woman kneeling below his waist to kiss the medal.