On today’s date in 2006, Brad Gushue skipped Canada’s men’s curling team to its first-ever Olympic gold medal.
Before the gold-medal match, which saw Canada defeat Finland 10-4 at the Winter Games in Torino, Italy, a $1 coin was buried at each end of the ice.
The “Lucky Loonie” first entered Canadian consciousness after the men’s and women’s hockey teams both won gold at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. As the story goes, Olympic officials invited Dan Craig, an ice-making consultant for the National Hockey League, to oversee the arena where the hockey tournaments were being held nearly 20 years ago. Craig called a few of his crew members from back home in Edmonton for help, and one of his assistants – Trent Evans – secretly placed a loonie at centre ice (he noticed there was no target for referees to aim for when dropping the puck).
Both the men’s and women’s hockey teams would eventually win gold atop the Lucky Loonie, and the coin soon became a piece of Canadian folklore.
Canadians have since hidden loonies at several international competitions, including the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, where both hockey teams again won gold.
Since 2004, the Royal Canadian Mint has issued several commemorative Lucky Loonies for the biennial Olympic Games as a symbol of good luck for Canadian athletes.
“Canadians can wish our athletes luck by keeping this special coin produced by the Mint as well as create a lasting memory of Canada’s participation at the Games,” said former Mint president and CEO Ian Bennett.
The coins typically depict a loon alongside the Canadian Olympic logo.