Alison Henstridge recaps Canada’s progress in Vancouver
by Alison Henstridge
This week’s athletes have had their ups and downs but they have managed to bring home a few medals, keeping Canada ranked in fifth position as of Tuesday Feb. 23.
Athletes like Marianne St-Gelais surprised the nation when the 20 year old short track speed skater captured the silver medal on Wednesday Feb. 17, defeating Arianna Fontana of Italy. St-Gelais was accompanied by Jessica Gregg as well as Kalyna Roberge who were both defeated by the Chinese favourite Wang Meng.
In the 1000 meters long track women’s speed skating, it was Canadian Christine Nesbitt who took home Canada’s third gold after beating Lauren Van Riessen and Annette Gerittson from the Netherlands. Their track times were very tight but it proved to be Nesbitt who would take home the gold after her consistent track run.
The women’s 1 500 meter long track speed skating also finished with a few surprises. With three Canadians qualifying for the final, Kristina Groves took home the silver medal. Christine Nesbitt, who had never finished below second place this year, took sixth place and Britanny Schussler who had finished fifth at the worlds, finished 35th.
Another surprise came from male skeleton athlete Jon Montgomery when his speed of 145 kilometres and time of three minutes 29.73 seconds won Canada its fourth gold medal. Montgomery, who performed a perfect run, defeated Martin Dukurs of Lettonia after his time was slowed due to a few costly bumps and miscalculations. At 31 years of age, Montgomery has received his first Olympic medal in only three years of competition. In the women’s skeleton, Melissa Hollingsworth was in second place after three heats but finished the fourth heat in fifth place after she committed a few costly errors.
In the past few weeks, figure skating champions have crumbled under the pressure of the Olympic Games. After three figure skating events, only one Canadian team has won a medal. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir in the ice dance category were in second place after their compulsory dance. It was in the free dance that everything was set in stone. Virtue and Moir came in to free dance in first place after the original, only three points ahead of Americans Meryl White and Charlie Davis. With a flawless performance, Virtue and Moir took first place and the gold with a total of 221.73 points while the Americans took home the silver with 215.43 points and the reigning World Champions of Russia would take home the bronze after finishing in third place.
Another surprise medal came from a sport that was making its debut in the 2010 Winter Olympics. Ashleigh Mcivor is partly the reason why this new sport was introduced: women’s ski cross. Similar to the snowboard cross event in many ways, Mcivor had asked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its president, Jacques Rogue, to include this sport and it proved to be a good idea seeing as Canada took home the gold in the event. Mcivor, whose lead was threatened early on in the race, sealed the victory with her quick landings and tight turns as well as being the first to cross the finish line.
After two heats of the two-woman bobsleigh race, Canada one took the lead as they were two-tenths of a second ahead of the German team. The second Canadian team is in fourth place, just half a second behind the first place team.
In men’s cross country skiing, Canada almost graced the podium but finished fourth after the Russian skiers advanced them by five seconds. Although Canada finished fourth, it is the best that we have ever done in cross-country skiing. In the women’s, Sara Renner and Daria Gaiazova finished in seventh, another historical best.
While the curling preliminaries are coming to an end, Canada, both women and men are at the top of the scoreboard.
While some Canadian athletes shone and surprised, others fell back and their Olympic medals became more of an illusion than a reachable goal.
In the men’s short track speed skating, the Hamelin brothers, who had both qualified for the finals, finished in fourth and fifth place. The Koreans took home both the gold and silver and American Apolo Anton took home the bronze. Charles Hamelin had been Canada’s biggest medal hopeful for these games but has not come close to the podium. In the 1500 meters, Danny Morrison finished in ninth place.
In slalom, Erik Guay came close to a podium finish after he delivered a spectacular run, despite a small mistake at the top of the hill. Guay missed the podium by three-hundredths of a second, while both Robbie Dixon and Manuel-Osborne Paradis did not finish the race. For the women, it was Britt Janyk who had the best finish with a 17th place. Keep a look out for three Canadians in the men’s acrobatique skiing event to take place tonight.
Men’s figure skating not only struck up controversy in the media but on the ice as well. Reigning Olympic gold medalist Evgeni Plushenko of Russia was dethroned by American Evan Lysacek. Lysacek who performed a near flawless program defeated Plushenko without a quadruple jump. Plushenko also landed every single one of his jumps shakily. 19 year old Patrick Chan of Canada finished fifth at his first Olympics after having fallen on a costly triple axel. Vaughn Chipeur, also of Canada, finished in 21st after falling on both his triple axels.
In the women’s figure skating, Cynthia Phaneuf of Canada is ranked in 14th after the short program while Joannie Rochette is in third, two points behind Mao Asada of Japan. Rochette, who lost her mother to a heart attack Sunday morning, performed a very emotional short program. Holding back her tears during the entire two and a half minutes, she let them go as she received her standing ovation. To find out where Rochette will finish, tune in tonight at 7:30 p.m.
For all you hockey fans out there, Canada’s men defeated Germany Tuesday night with a score of 8-2. After having difficulty beating Sweden and losing to the United States, goalie Roberto Luongo was placed in nets where he stopped some important shots. For Canada to move on to semi finals, they must first defeat the Russian powerhouse of Ovechkin and Malkin on Wednesday night.
For the women’s hockey team, after beating Finland five to nothing on Feb 22, Canada faces the team that has beaten them at the last two world championships: the United States of America. Dawson’s own Marie Philippe Poulin and Catherine Ward have been doing quite well in this tournament. Poulin has recorded three goals and two assists giving her a total of five points while Ward has two goals and two assists, giving her four points. Both Ward and Poulin have received only two penalty minutes each.
For more information on competition times, check your local listings and keep cheering on your Canadian Athletes. Go Canada!