Pyeongchang was the Olympic swan song for many top Canadian athletes

The Canadian Press
Pyeongchang was the Olympic swan song for many top Canadian athletes
Pyeongchang was the Olympic swan song for many top Canadian athletes

PYEONGCHANG, Korea, Republic Of — Some athletes declared it was their final Olympic skate, slide or ski.

Others will take time, and perhaps compete another year or two, before calling it a day.

But Pyeongchang was the Olympic swan song for several top Canadians who have donned the Maple Leaf in multiple Games.

Athletes are now competing into their 40s and occasionally come out of retirement to compete at the Olympics.

And few declare their Olympic performance as their last. They take time for reflection after the heat of the Games.

But short-track speedskaters Charles Hamelin and Marianne St-Gelais, cross-country skier Devon Kershaw, luger Sam Edney and figure skaters Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir and Patrick Chan were among those most emphatic that the curtain had come down on their competitive careers in Pyeongchang.

"It's time for us to move on," Moir said after he and Virtue won ice dance gold.

The ice dancers haven't officially announced their retirement but are expected to in the coming weeks.

Even during what he knew was a slide for a medal in the relay, the 33-year-old Edney says he tried to take it all in.

"I told myself 'Just enjoy it and have fun this entire way down,'" he said. "I was noticing things I wasn't noticing all week. Going through the Olympic corner, I was seeing people's faces."

Chan, 27, has been in the glare of the spotlight in each of his four Olympic appearances, so the 2014 silver medallist in men's singles isn't sorry to step out of it.

"You can't help but ask yourself, if aliens came and saw what we do, what would they think?" Chan asked. "We're on the ice and we wear these costumes and we're asking for praise. It's very funny concept. I loved it.

"I just look forward to not having to expose myself out on the ice in front of judges."

Short-track power couple Hamelin, 33, and St-Gelais, 28, have eight Olympic medals between them, including Hamelin's three gold. Hamelin said prior to Pyeongchang they want to have children soon.

They've passed the torch to skaters such as Kim Boutin, who was Canada's flag-bearer at the closing ceremonies after a silver and two bronze medals here.

"The medals are just the icing on the cake," Hamelin said. "I never had any specific goals, I never aimed at five medals.

"All I wanted to do was have fun, show what I can do at the international level at the Olympics. Then, make people all over the world appreciate short-track speed skating."

Family is a compelling reason for four-time Olympian Kershaw, who wants to stay closer to home instead of spending the winter racing abroad.

The 35-year-old and Norwegian wife Kristin Stoermer Steira had a baby daughter a year ago.

"Now, a three-week training camp and three-week stint of racing, being away from my family, it's just like daggers to my heart," Kershaw said.

His teammate Alex Harvey, 29, said after a heartbreaking fourth in the men's 50 kilometres Saturday that Pyeongchang was his last Games, although he intends to compete for another few years.

There are a few veterans who intend to keep going to Beijing in 2022, and perhaps beyond. 

Kaillie Humphries, who won bronze here to go with her gold medals from 2010 and 2014, said the prospect of piloting a four-woman bobsled in the Olympics is motivation for her to continue.

"Competing in four-man would keep me to 2026 if Calgary gets (the Olympics) because I know that that's a realistic and a very, very possible goal," Humphries said.

"If Calgary doesn't get it, eh, I don't know if I'll stick around that long unless again, women's four-man is going to be in 2026."

Hockey player Meghan Agosta, 31, intends to compete in a fifth Winter Games in Beijing.

Veteran snowboarder Jasey-Jay Anderson made history by becoming the only Canadian to compete in six Winter Games. Does the 43-year-old plan to make it a seventh?

"We'll see. Probably not," Anderson said. "I miss my family a lot when I leave. But you never know, after a good summer's rest, we'll see who's knocking at the door and see how motivation stands."

— With files from Neil Davidson, Lori Ewing, Gregory Strong and Alexis Belanger-Champagne

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

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