Boston, MA – On sport’s biggest stage, it’s the biggest honor. To earn an Olympic medal is the dream of millions, yet the reality of very few.
Such was the case for six Boston Bruins who made it to the 2010 Winter Olympics for their respective countries, only two returning with the hardware. Forward Patrice Bergeron received the gold with Team Canada and goaltender Tim Thomas received the silver with Team USA.
“It was awesome,” Bergeron said. “It was a great experience and a lot of fun and obviously, winning that gold medal means even more. It was a very special moment.”
Designed by Vancouver-based artist Corrine Hunt and industrial designer Omer Arbel, the medals were inspired by the orca, better known as killer whale, and were intended to represent Canada’s ocean waves, towering mountains and drifting snow.
They are the first medals in Olympic history to not be flat. Each was struck nine times to achieve its undulating surface and unique silhouette.
Though his US team only narrowly missed the gold in the overtime nail-biter, Tim Thomas made sure to point out that winning the silver in such a difficult tournament is also a huge achievement.
“I always dreamt of the gold, but considering we weren’t even picked to be in the top six teams, it was quite an accomplishment,” Thomas said. “I’m proud of the teammates I played with.”
Over 600 Olympic medals were produced this year, and with each weighing in between 500 and 576 grams, they are among the heaviest medals in Olympic history.
Heavy though they may be, Bergeron said he felt nothing but relief as the ribbon was slipped over his head.
“As soon as I got it, when they put it around my neck, that’s the first thing I wanted to do is to look at it and feel it,” he said. “It’s pretty heavy actually. It’s so special and it means a lot.
“The Olympics, you see that so many times, it means a lot to me to win it.”
The medals and game-worn Olympic jerseys of Bergeron and Thomas were on display for fans at the Bruins first game back on Tuesday. It was a simple way for the Boston faithful to experience a little piece of the Olympics themselves.
However before he handed it over to be safely locked in the display case, Bergeron said he never let his gold medal out of his sight.
“I wanted to show it to the guys here and show it to the trainers and all that so I brought it with me,” he said. “Obviously at the airport, it was on me at all times.”
“I didn’t want to lose it,” he added with a laugh.
Even as the Olympic fever calms to a simmer, the medal will always be a physical reminder that Bergeron was once a member of the best ice hockey team in the world.
“It’s been unbelievable for me and to actually have a gold medal means even more,” he said. “No one can take that away from me. It’s something that I’ve achieved and I’m very proud of it.”
One gold medal is estimated to be worth around $1,700, with about 6 grams of gold plating. But the memories of the 2010 Winter Olympics were even more valuable to those fortunate enough to share in the experience.
“I’ve been watching the Olympics since I was a kid,” Bergeron said. “And to actually be there and live the experience as an athlete, it’s been awesome.”