2012 Year in review: Highs and lows for

January 05 [Sat], 2013, 7:21
Team Canada celebrates bronze medal win in women's soccer at the OlympicsTime is ticking away on 2012 so let's look back onfive of the year's top Canadian sports stories:

5. Canada at the London Olympics

There were high expectations on Canadian athletesheading to the London Summer Olympics. While London put on a great show hosting the Games, Canada's performancewas average. There were highlights like Rosie MacLennan of Toronto winning a trampoline gold and signs of promise for the future withbronze medals by high-jumperDerek Drouin, 22, and diver Jennifer Abel, 20. There also was the disappointment of shot-putter Dylan Armstrong,cyclist Tara Whittenand boxer Mary Spencerfailing to reach the podium. Over the last four years Own the Podium spent $36 million a year on summer athletes. The Canadian Olympic Committee'sgoal in London was to finish among the top 12 countries in medals won.Canada earned 18 medals (one gold, five silver and 12 bronze) to finish 13th.The country'ssports officials have four years to make improvements before the Rio de Janeiro Games.

A lit candle lights up a picture of freestyle skier Sarah Burke (Canadian Press)

4.Ski deaths

Downhill skier Erik Guay had three podium finishes in 2012, ErinMielzynski became the first Canadian since1971 to win a World Cup slalom race, andJean-Philippe Le Guellec became thefirstCanadian ever to win aWorld Cup biathlon event in 2012.Sadly,the year will also be remembered for the death of two skiers. Sarah Burke, 29, a Canadian pioneer in freestyle skiing, died Jan. 10 after suffering a head injury during a training run in the superpipe at a personal sponsor event at the Park City Mountain resort.Nik Zoricic, 29, died from head injuries following aWorld Cup ski-crossrace inGrindelwald, Switzerland. Zoricic's death resulted in calls for FIS, skiing international governing body, to improve safety.

Canada's Ryder Hesjedal celebrates on the podium after winning the 95th Giro d'Italia (Canadian Press)

3. Ryder Hesjedalwins Giro dItalia

Victoria's Ryder Hesjedal rode his bicycle where no other Canadian had gonebefore with his victory in the Giro d'Italia. He isthe first Canadian to win a Grand Tour event and became the poster boy for young cyclists across the country. His victory also came at a time when American Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for doping and fellow Canadian Michael Barry admitted he used ban substances in the summer of2006 while riding with Armstrong on the U.S. Postal Service Team. Hesjedal rides forGarmin-Barracuda, ateam thatprides itself on its anti-doping stance. Acloud will always hang over cycling but there's hope Hesjedal won't be part offuture doping storms.

Canada players celebrate winning the bronze medal during the women's soccer ceremonies at the 2012 Summer Olympics

2. Canadian womens soccer team wins Olympic bronze

For years money and resources werepoured into the national women's soccer team with little to show in results. A team that had been largely ignored by Canadians suddenly caught the nation's imagination by winning a bronze medal at the London Olympic Games. Typically, national pride was stirredby the perceptionthe United States had cheatedourwomenout of a chance for a gold medal during a controversial semifinal game.Still,captain Christine Sinclair's three-goal performance in a losing effort liftedher to hero status.Hopefully the loveaffairwith women's socceris a lasting relationship, not a fling.

Fans holds signs commenting on the NHL lockout (Canadian Press)

1: The NHL Lockout

We knew there would be acrimony when the NHL owners sat down with the players tocarve up a US$3-billion pot. No one expected the players to be happy about giving up a share of their57 per cent of revenuesand being forced into acontract systemthat would protect the owners from themselves, yet again. But did anybody see this labour dispute creeping towardan entire season being cancelled for the second time in seven years? It's hard to believe anybody's ego would be so big they'd put an entire sport in jeopardy. Yetthe clock keeps ticking. And the scary part is markets in the U.S. which the NHL is desperate to savereally don't care.

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