By Ina Fried
Thinking about the top sports moments of the Vancouver Games, there are many images that stand out, but a few performances that are etched indelibly in my brain. Two of the five are events on my list were ones got to witness firsthand and two others I covered live, albeit watching on a big screen. Over the coming days, I plan to write about my top non-sports moments of the games, as well as some of the not-so-highlights.
1. The gold medal men's hockey game.
Sure, the U.S. didn't bring home the gold, but this was an incredible game that left an entire nation (and some additional millions in the U.S.) on the edge of their seats.
After finding itself in a 2-0 hole, the U.S. crawled back, finally tying the game with 24 seconds left. More than that, there was tons of end-to-end action and an incredible crowd that extended beyond the walls of Canada Hockey Place and to every cathode ray tube and collection of pixels in Canada. Although I had an incredible vantage point from the Molson Hockey House pavilion, I'm told it was just as great outside, downtown in neighborhood pubs and elsewhere.
A close game and a great tournament could help the NHL and might also help the league commit to working its schedule around the Olympics in the future. I was also glad to see a team win it in the overtime. From where I sit, gold medals shouldn't be decided in a shootout.
2. The "Night Train" winning bobsled gold.
America hadn't won a gold in bobsled in 62 years, until Steven Holcomb and team sped through the track at Whistler. Turning in four dominating performances, USA-1 led from the first run and continued to grow its lead throughout the two days of competition.
The track, which Holcomb and others called the fastest and one of the trickiest in the world made for a challenging Olympic venue. Six teams crashed at some point on Day 1 of the competition, but every bobsled that started on Day 2 managed to turn in a clean run, making for an exciting conclusion.
To claim the gold, the Night Train had to pass up some steep competition including a strong Canadian team and retiring German star Andre Lange who was hoping to go out with a bang, adding yet another gold in his already prodigious collection.
And the fact that Holcomb is a big computer geek, well, that just made it even better. As one of my friends said on Facebook, Holcomb gives hope to every pudgy guy willing to wear spandex.
3. The U.S. beating Canada in men's hockey.
This game set the stage for what proved to be an exciting and wide-open tournament with many countries not expected to fare all that well offering steep competition for the highest-ranked teams. In addition to being an entertaining game to watch, the U.S.-Canada game served as a wake-up call for the Canadians and showed the Americans to be serious contenders.
Though Canada outshot the U.S. by a wide margin, American goalie Ryan Miller came up huge, allowing the U.S. to win the game, even if it appeared to be outplayed at times.
4. Women's figure skating, especially Joannie Rochette.
Clearly the emotional story of the games was Canadian Joannie Rochette, just days after the sudden death of her mother, turning in great performances in both the short and free skate to claim the bronze medal.
The women's event also saw the dominating performance of Korean Kim Yu-Na as well as very nice routines from the Japanese and American women, though there wasn't enough room on the podium for all those that skated well.
But, unlike the men's side of things, there was a lot less bickering and backstabbing once the event was over.
5. Canada's comeback in the medals race.
When the games started, Canada's goal to "own the podium," or lead the medals race seemed highly ambitious. By midway through the games, even its backers were conceding defeat. Then a remarkable thing happened.
Canada, which had failed to win a gold medal in either of the two Olympics it had previously hosted, went on a tear. In the end, Canada went on to win more gold medals -- 14 -- than not only any other country at this year's games, but more than any country at any Winter Games ever. Sure, Germany and the U.S. had more total medals, but Canada definitely managed to change Own the Podium back into a statement as opposed to a punch line.
Ina Fried is a Senior Writer for CNET News. She will be in Vancouver covering various angles for both CBSSports.com and her CNET Blog " Beyond B1nary ". You can also follow her on twitter at: http://twitter.com/Inafried