With the pressure as host nation on its shoulders in 2010, Canada produced its best-ever showing at the Paralympic Winter Games to that date, ranking third in the medal standings with 10 gold, five silver and four bronze. Its previous best heading into the Vancouver Games was 15 medals in 1998 and 2002.
In addition, the first ever Paralympic Winter Games held in Canada brought widespread awareness of sports for people with disabilities not only in Canada but around the world through record TV coverage which has increased ten-fold since then.
There were many firsts in a Games committee including: a national Paralympic committee member on the Board of Directors (who would be Canadian Patrick Jarvis), the legal name of the organizing committee officially included the word “Paralympic” for the first time (Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games), and the word Paralympic was included in all Games sponsorship activities (more than 60 sponsorships).
For Canada there was also a sustainable financial windfall that ripples through to this day, making a lasting positive impact on the sport community.
There is so much to look back on from the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. Here are just 10 fun facts to remember:
• Lauren Woolstencroft, born missing her left arm below the elbow as well as both legs below the knees, led Canada with five gold medals in the women’s standing Para alpine skiing events.
• Viviane Forest became the first Canadian female athlete to win gold at both a summer and winter Paralympics. The former national goalball team member was another quintuple medallist in Para alpine skiing with a gold, three silver and a bronze in the women’s visually impaired races.
• In wheelchair curling, Canada held on to defeat South Korea 8-7 for gold in the final. The Canadians, skipped by Jim Armstrong, were up 8-1 after four ends. It was Canada’s second consecutive Paralympic gold medal in the sport.
• Visually impaired cross country skier Brian McKeever became the first athlete nominated to both an Olympic and Paralympic team. He ultimately won three gold medals in Para nordic skiing.
• Para nordic sit skier Colette Bourgonje was presented with the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award, which is awarded at each Games to one male and female athlete who exemplify Paralympic values. Bourgonje was also the first member of the Canadian team to win a medal in Vancouver, a silver in the 10km women’s sit skiing race.
• Participation numbers increased to 40 nations and 506 athletes. Argentina and Romania made their Paralympic Winter Games debuts.
• Para ice hockey player Jean Labonté was Canada’s flag bearer in the Opening Ceremony and Woolstencroft handled the duties in the Closing Ceremony.
• Current federal MP Carla Qualtrough was the president of the Canadian Paralympic Committee in 2010 and veteran sports administrator Blair McIntosh was Team Canada’s chef de mission.
• The mascot for Vancouver 2010 was Sumi, a guardian spirit. It was modeled after an orca whale, with the wings of the thunderbird and legs of a black bear. The character reflects First Nations imagery and represents the diverse backgrounds of Canadians and participating athletes.
• The torch relay for the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games started in Ottawa and went to 11 communities in 10 days beginning March 3. Inspired by the theme 'Ignite the Flame in each of us', each community celebrated the relay in a unique way. The cauldron was lit at the opening ceremony by amputee Zach Beaumont, a young snowboarder.
This year, the Canadian Paralympic Committee and Pfizer Canada are celebrating 25 years of supporting and promoting the Paralympic Movement together. Throughout 2021, we will look back on special sporting moments and milestones from each year of the partnership.
Click here to read each moment so far.