IOC to look into celebrations by Canadian women's team
VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Carry on, ladies. Canada's top Olympic official sees no reason to worry about the women's hockey team's beer-swigging, cigar-smoking celebration of its gold-medal victory over the U.S. team. After the players swiftly apologized, other top Olympic officials praised the Canadians and played down the party Friday, even while encouraging them to be a bit more discreet next time. "As far as we're concerned, the matter is closed," said Michael Chambers, president of the Canadian Olympic Committee. "It was nothing more than an error of judgment committed at the exciting time of winning a gold medal. It was a spilling out of the celebration that was going on in the dressing room."The International Olympic Committee send it would send a letter to Canadian organizers asking for more details about what happened but was careful not to characterize the response as an investigation. Vancouver organizing chief John Furlong said it was simply a matter of "young kids who were happy." "They had a great time," Furlong said Friday. "They let their hair down. Yes, they said they were sorry, but they're great ambassadors for hockey, and they shouldn't regret what they did for a moment." Several players were expected to comment on their victory later Friday. After the Canadians beat the United States 2-0 on Thursday and were given their gold medals, 14 players returned to the ice, smoking cigars and drinking beer and champagne. Marie-Philip Poulin, the 18-year-old hero of the gold-medal game with two goals, had a beer in her hand while she's still a few weeks shy of the legal drinking age in British Columbia. Haley Irwin poured champagne into the mouth of Tessa Bonhomme, gold medals swinging from both their necks. Goalies Charline Labonte and Kim St. Pierre posed at center ice for Poulin, lying on their stomachs with a giant bottle of champagne resting just above the Olympic rings. Rebecca Johnston even jumped into the driver's seat of the ice-resurfacing machine, posing for pictures and grinning. Gilbert Felli, the IOC's executive director of the Olympic Games, said the antics were "not what we want to see." "If they celebrate in the changing room, that's one thing," he said, "but not in public." But IOC spokesman Mark Adams suggested Friday the only outrage was coming from the press. "To be honest, I think people are in search of a story that doesn't exist," he said. Hockey Canada apologized in a statement several hours after the match and said it regrets any embarrassment to the IOC or Canadian organizers. "In the excitement of the moment, the celebration left the confines of our dressing room and shouldn't have," the statement said. "Our players and team vow to uphold the values of the Olympics moving forward and view this situation as a learning experience." Exuberant celebration hasn't been 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. 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. As for the hockey celebration, U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun said: "My only comment would be I wish it was the Americans who had been in a position to do that."