Eduard Casaneanu’s legs were distinctly wobbly as the national anthem of Romania echoed through Kristins Hall after he won the YOG men’s ice hockey skills contest on Thursday evening.
“This is the biggest moment in my career, my country’s first medal,’’ said Casaneanu as he caressed the award that hung around his neck. “I am so, so proud. It is an amazing feeling.”
Casaneanu, who finished first in the fastest shot element in the final round, stayed in touch with the leaders through the first four of the six skills the eight finalists had to tackle in this individual test of an ice hockey player’s prowess.
And when the early pace-setters, Aleks Haatanen, of Finland, and Hungary’s Natan Vertes did not fare well in the last two skills – pass precision and puck control – that opened the door for the consistent Casaneanu to skate off with the title.
Casaneanu was moved by the experience. He shed a tear while on the podium, the Romanian flag draped over his shoulders, and then enjoyed a victory lap around the ice surface clutching his precious medal all the way.
Sebastian Cederle, of Slovakia, won the silver medal, while Germany’s Erik Betzold claimed bronze. Cederle admitted he had thought that second place was well out of reach after the first two skills. “I did not get many points so I thought the lead was too much to overcome,’’ he said. “It is amazing.”