IOC to probe Canadian women's booze-filled celebration

IOC to probe Canadian women's booze-filled celebration

Published Feb. 26, 2010 12:49 p.m. ET

In a sport Canada invented, nothing less than gold would do. And when the women's hockey team had it in hand, the joy and champagne overflowed.

The players stormed back onto the ice half an hour after beating the United States 2-0 on Thursday and staged a raucous celebration -- smoking cigars and swigging beer and bubbly.

Haley Irwin poured champagne into the mouth of Tessa Bonhomme, gold medals swinging from both their necks. Meghan Agosta and Marie-Philip Poulin posed with goofy grins.

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 actually tried to commandeer the ice-resurfacing machine.

Poulin, who scored both goals for Canada, doesn't turn 19 -- legal drinking age in British Columbia -- until next month. The drinking age in Alberta, where the Canadian team trains, is 18. Photos showed Poulin on the ice with a beer in her hand.

Gilbert Felli, the OC'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."

IOC spokesman Mark Adams said the Olympic governing body would send a letter to Canadian organizers asking for more details about what happened. He was careful not to characterize the response as an investigation.

"To be honest, I think people are in search of a story that doesn't exist," he told reporters Friday.

Hockey Canada apologized in a statement late Thursday 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."

Adams said earlier that the players were asked to return to the ice to have photos taken. "We understand that some people may have felt that their behavior was over-exuberant," he said.

Steve Keough, a spokesman for the Canadian Olympic Committee, said it was "quite an emotional moment for our team" and added: "It was not our intention to go against any IOC protocols.

"In terms of the actual celebration," he said, "it's not exactly something uncommon in Canada."

Not even 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 that he gripped with two hands.

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.

At Canada Hockey Place on Thursday, the celebration started much earlier. As time expired and the team skated into a massive pile-up near their goal, cheering fans threw flags over the glass to the players, who wrapped them around their shoulders like capes.

"I looked up in the stands and saw a sign that said, 'Proud to be Canadian,' and that's what I am today," said goalie Shannon Szabados, who made 28 saves.

As for the post-game 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."