Olympic Watch

All you need to know about what’s happened in the Olympics

By Alison Henstridge

Canada seems to be off to a good tart at the 2010 winter Olympic Games, racking in five medals in four days and ranking fourth in the overall medal standings as of Tuesday February 16.
Certain athletes have been shining throughout these games, producing outstanding performances such as 20 year old Alexandre Bilodeau who won the first gold medal on home soil in men’s moguls. Vincent Marquis and Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau finished fourth and fifth. Bilodeau’s gold was quickly followed by another one, this time from Maelle Ricker in women’s snowboard cross.
Canada has also acquired two silver medals. Mike Robertson gave us a surprise silver medal after he finished a few tenths of a second behind USA’s Seth Wescott at the snowboard cross event.
Jennifer Heil, the 2006 gold medalist, finished  second in the women’s moguls after giving a great run but she was unfortunately passed by 23 year old American Heather Kearney.
For our bronze, we can thank speed skater Kristina Groves in the 3000 meter category, defeating the German Daniela Anschutz Thoms by three hundredths of a second. The crowd favourite, Martina Sablikova of the Republic of Czech or Slovakia, took home the gold, and former Olympian medalists Clara Hughes and Cindy Klassen finished fifth and fourteenth respectively.
With the happiness and joy that comes along with the five medals, there are also some disappointments.
For some, Charles Hamelin was the biggest hope for short track speed skating. However, he was paired up with the strongest semi-finalists, letting the American and Korean move on to win gold and silver. With Hamelin’s loss, Olivier Jean was the only Canadian left representing Canada, as he finished fourth.
Another speed skating disappointment happened at BC Place, with Jeremy Wotherspoon.
Wotherspoon went from fifth after his second race to finish ninth in long track. Wotherspoon, who won silver at the 98 Nagano Olympics, has not had a good Olympic track record since falling badly in 2002 and a ninth place finish in 2006.
On another note, Canadian Jamie Gregg finished eighth alongside 36 year old Mike Ireland who finished 16th.
Hopes and dreams came crashing down in the figure skating pairs event where the competition seemed nervous and unready.  With Zhang and Zhang of China coming out of retirement, the Canadians Jessica Dubé and Bryce Davidson as well as Annabelle Langlois and Cody Hay had to deal with some extra pressure.
In the men’s short program, Vaughn Chipeur performed a mediocre short program, which was far beyond his abilities. He sits in 24 and will be able to compete in the long program due to the fact that out of the 30 skaters in the short, only 24 can compete in the long. As for Patrick Chan, who skated an okay performance, is ranked in eighth and nine points behind Russian and American leaders Evgeni Plushenko and Evan Lysacek. Chan still had a chance to win a medal skates the program of his life. To find out who takes home the gold, tune in on Thursday night.

The men’s acrobatic skiing took a hard hit when none of the Canadians qualified to compete last Saturday and the Canadian luge athlete, Sam Edney, finished seventh after the luge track was shortened in order for athletes to gain less speed on the final turn (the one where Georgian athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili lost his life on Friday during a practice run). The gold went to Felix Loch of Germany. As for men’s downhill skiing, Erik Guay was the closest contender for a medal but sadly finished fifth. Guay will have another shot at the podium when he competes in the super slalom. In the biathlon, J.P. Leguellec finished a respectable eleventh, even though thirty seconds had to be added to his final time due to acommunication error from the gate official.
Now for all you hockey fans out there, Canada’s women’s hockey team slaughtered the Slovakian team 18-0, in a game where Dawson’s own  Marie-Philippe Poulin recorded one power play goal as well as an assist. Catherine Ward recorded her first assist with Olympic team as well as an interference penalty. The second game, versus Switzerland gave the red and white jerseys a ten to one lead with Ward scoring her first goal and recording another assist and Poulin scoring her second goal of the tournament. For the men, they defeated Norway 8 to 0, which involved a hat trick by Jarome Iginla and goals by Mike Richards and Dany Heatley as well as by Ryan Getzlaf, Cory Perry and Rick Nash. Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks was the starting goalie and received the shut out, stopping all 15 shots.
For all other Olympic events, check your local listings and be sure to keep cheering for your Canadian Olympic athletes.

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