Women bring beer, cigars onto ice

Updated: February 26, 2010, 12:24 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The women of the Canadian hockey team politely accepted their gold medals and waved to an adoring crowd. And then the real celebration began.

[+] EnlargeCanada Win
AP Photo/Chris O'Meara Canada's Jayna Hefford, left, and Gillian Apps celebrate Canada's victory over the USA.

More than half an hour after they beat the United States 2-0 on Thursday, the players came back from the locker room and staged a party on ice -- swigging from bottles of champagne, guzzling beer and smoking cigars.

In a sport that Canada invented, there was never an option besides gold, and with it finally in hand, the home team let loose.

Meghan Agosta and Marie-Philip Poulin posed wearing goofy grins. Rebecca Johnston actually tried to drive the ice-resurfacing machine. Haley Irwin poured champagne into the mouth of Tessa Bonhomme, gold medals swinging from both their necks.

The celebration raised eyebrows at the IOC, which said it would look into the matter. Informed of the antics by The Associated Press, Gilbert Felli, the IOC's executive director of the Olympic Games, said it was "not what we want to see."

"I don't think it's a good promotion of sport values," he said. "If they celebrate in the changing room, that's one thing, but not in public. We will investigate what happened."

In a statement released late Thursday, Hockey Canada apologized. The team has scheduled a 5:30 p.m. ET news conference on Friday.

"The members of Team Canada apologize if their on-ice celebrations, after fans had left the building, have offended anyone," the statement said. "In the excitement of the moment, the celebration left the confines of our dressing room and shouldn't have. The team regrets that its gold medal celebration may have caused the IOC or COC any embarrassment.

"Our players and team vow to uphold the values of the Olympics moving forward and view this situation as a learning experience."

Poulin, who scored both goals, 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.

"We understand that they were asked to go back onto the playing field after the stadium had emptied to take a photo," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. "We understand that some people may have felt that their behavior was over-exuberant."

Steve Keough, a spokesman for the Canadian Olympic Committee, said the COC had not provided the alcohol nor initiated the party.

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

While the committee does not condone irresponsibility, Keough said, "I think Canadians understand it's quite an emotional moment for our team. It was not our intention to go against any IOC protocols."

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.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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