Lucky loonie is a cute Canadian superstition, but that’s all

Neate Sager

Unshakable myths define a people, even if they make literalists grind their jaws. One of Canada's great ones is the Lucky Loonie, which is now officially minted. Every Canadian Olympian received one upon her/his arrival in London.

The tradition had an inspired beginning. Before the 2002 Olympics, the Edmonton ice crew whom Mitt Romney's minions in Salt Lake City had outsourced the ice making put the Canadian one-dollar coin under the faceoff dot at centre ice. Canada proceeded to beat Team USA for both hockey gold medals, with the women's team winning its first gold and the Wayne Gretzky-helmed men's team ending a 50-year drought.

It is a good cliché, but does it help? Not necessarily. There was a lucky loonie under the finish line of the Olympic road race course, but it didn't inspire either Ryder Hesjedal on Saturday or Clara Hughes, Denise Ramsden and Joelle Numainville on Sunday to new heights. They merely raced capably.

Venue manager Betony Garner says a toonie was buried under the finish line on The Mall, thanks to Canadian Stephanie Jones who is a member of the venue team.

Alas, the lucky toonie did not deliver a medal.

Ryder Hesjedal was 63rd in the men's road race Saturday and Canadians went 12th, 27th and 32nd in the women's race Sunday. (The Canadian Press)

As Emerson once put it, shallow men believe in luck. As you might imagine, for every instance where the lucky loonie, quote-unquote, worked, there's one to cancel it out. The wire service notes there was a lucky loonie at the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia, but the Canucks finished 14th of 20 teams. (That's actually respectable, considering the combination of Canada's climate and U.S. disinterest in rugby are hardly conducive to producing a world-beater.)

At the 2004 world junior hockey championship current Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury wore a Lucky Loonie-themed mask in Canada's first game. Did the good vibes shepherd the team to a gold medal over Team USA?


Later that year, a lucky loonie was used during the World Cup of Hockey tournament, the irregularly-staged, here-today, forgotten-tomorrow event that Damien Cox once called "the bastard child of the old Canada Cup." Canada won the tournament by beating Finland in the final, but the hitch was that the tourney helped fill both sides' war chest for a National Hockey League lockout that eradicated an entire season. That's not exactly luck, in the big picture.

Point being, if you overdo something, it loses its significance. But life is tough enough without some sustaining illusions. Do not stop believing in the lucky loonie.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.