2010

Ryder Hesjedal, sixth overall, still riding high at the Tour de France

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Ryder crossing the finish line at Morzine-Avoriaz, recording his best-ever mountain stage.

By John Wilcockson • Published: Jul 11th 2010 3:50 PM EDT

After finishing stage 8 Sunday atop the difficult climb to Avoriaz, Ryder Hesjedal was pleased with his performance, placing 14th on the day and slotting into sixth place overall, 1:11 behind new race leader Cadel Evans, and only 10 seconds down on defending champion Alberto Contador.

It was Hesjedal’s best-ever ride on a mountain stage at the Tour, and it firmly establishes him as leader of Garmin-Transitions following the withdrawal of Christian Vande Velde with a broken collarbone last Monday.

Asked about his fight for a high GC position, Hesjedal said, “It was hard, really hard. The first big climb, the pace was really hard, and the selection was already small, but I felt pretty good. You know, once I made it up that climb I really focused on the last one.”

“I felt pretty good, but halfway up I just had to settle into my own rhythm, and I think that was good as I only lost a minute and a bit. As much as I wanted to stay with the Contador group, I knew my limits.”

Commenting on the stage, Garmin team director Matt White said, “It’s safe to say that Ryder has done some of the rides of his life here, and today was no exception.”

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White later said, “Losing Christian was obviously a negative for the team, but it provided Ryder with an opportunity to step up into a GC role — and he’s done it. I’m really proud of what he’s accomplished here already and, for now, we’ll keep taking it day by day.”

Read entire article at VeloNews.com.

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Men’s relay pulls off 4th place in elite field

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No, it’s not a medal, but the breakthrough for Canadian men’s XC skiing is phenomenal. In Norway, this relay is regarded as THE prestige event. The cheers that erupted when Bjørn Dæhlie crossed the finish line 2nd in Lillehammer in 1994, 1st in Nagano in 1998, and likely when Petter Northug left his opposition in his wake in the final sprint today, would be deafening. For Canada to be in the top 4 in this kind of company is unprecedented. Another result to savour. Congrats to Devon Kershaw and Alex Harvey.

Photograph by: Peter J. Thompson, Canwest News Service

Cross-country: Canadian men’s team achieves new benchmarks
BY MIKE BEAMISH, VANCOUVER SUN
FEBRUARY 22, 2010

WHISTLER — From eighth to fifth, and now fourth: In successive races, the Canadian men’s cross-country ski team has set new benchmarks for achievement in the Winter Olympic Games.

Alex Harvey of Ste-Ferreol Des Neiges, Que., and Devon Kershaw of Canmore, Alta., finished fourth in today’s men’s team sprint at Whistler Olympic Park, two days after Ivan Babikov of Canmore was fifth in the 30K pursuit and a week following Babikov’s eighth-place result in the 15K. Before the Vancouver-Whistler Games, Canada’s highest finish in the history of men’s Olympic cross-country competition was Pierre Harvey’s 14th, at the 1988 Calgary Olympics.

Today’s result sets up Canada for a medal possibility in Wednesday’s 4×10-kilometre relay. The four-man Canadian team — Babikov, Harvey, Kershaw and Geroge Grey — are considered stronger distance skiers than sprinters.

Read the entire article here.

Does it get better than speed skating gold?

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Only skiing gold would be better.

Christine Nesbitt’s gold has been the highlight of the Games so far for me. This medal will resonate like no other with the nations that founded the Winter Olympic Games. And yes, that matters in the world of Olympic competition. See the orange Dutch uniforms on either side of her? That colour composition will matter to the Dutch, the Norwegians, the Germans, and to all the other countries who value the tradional core sports of the Games so highly.

Congrats to Chrstine!

DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images

Of the seven medals won by Canadians thus far, five have been won by women, including two of the three gold medals.

You can discuss among yourselves the significance of those numbers. But, for the Canadian Olympic Committee, it means any thought of owning the podium is inexorably tied up with the XX-chromosome set.

“They’re fierce competitors,” said Marcel Lacroix, the Canadian speedskating coach who works with Nesbitt specifically and Kristina Groves, Clara Hughes and others generally. “They’re going for the kill. Yeah, they’re girls and all that.

“But you know what? Deep down inside they want to win as much as the guys. Put a hockey stick in their hands and I can guarantee they’re going to go into the corners and plow someone. That’s how bad they want to win.”

And in Nesbitt’s mind, that’s how she won.

Vancouver Sun

“Canadians should lighten up over the Winter Olympics – Britain is next”

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Opinion piece in the Guardian, the paper that’s leading the critical charge against the Vancouver Games. Is ridicule really part of the Olympic ideal? If so, Stephen Colbert’s arrival in Vancouver should be the difference maker for us all. At least he’s funny!

Malfunctioning ice penises: Vancouver 2010 opening ceremony. Photo: Sandra Behne/Bongarts/Getty Images

Vancouver needs to stop being so touchy about criticism of the 2010 Games. Ridicule is all part of the Olympic ideal

“Piss off Brits,” concludes a furious email typical of the Guardian’s Vancouver Olympics mailbag, “and stop producing so many ugly women.”

“I am deeply disappointed at the tone of this article,” fumes a response to my colleague Martin Kelner’s intentionally amusing article about the unintentionally amusing opening ceremony, “and the tone of many Brits or expat Brits enjoying the hospitality of our country.” To which the only appropriate reply is: do lighten up, Canada! Sorry for coming over all capital letters about it, but Olympic hosts are SUPPOSED to be teased. You basically pay billions of dollars for the world to laugh at you. Deal with it.

It’s not like the merriment gets in the way of the sport. It’s the après-sport, if you will – something that happens around the edges, but in its way as much a part of every Games fortnight as the competition itself. Treating anything reverently bar the sport is creepy. Even the founder of the modern Olympics, Baron de Coubertin, appeared to tacitly understand that the Games were war by other means, for all their facile message of world peace.

This is why Australian comedians Roy and HG scored such a hit with their nightly TV show during the Sydney Games, and it is why Vancouver is made for the latest stunt from the brilliant Steven Colbert, whose gift for debunking sacred cultural events is becoming second to none.

Read the whole article here.

Brunt: A heartbreaking imbalance of risk and reward

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Insightful article by Stephen Brunt on Manny Osborne-Paradis’ tough run today. Truth be told, it was a wild assault on his home course and in the end he couldn’t hold the speed and the aggressive approach he took all the way through to the end. If ever an athlete showed that you can want something too much, Osborne-Paradis did that today.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Globe and Mail
By Stephen Brunt, Monday, February 15, 2010 9:15 PM ET

There are different ways to ski a race, even for the very best in the world.

Everyone wants to be on the top of the podium, but anyone who lays it out every time, who forces the issue no matter what the circumstances, isn’t going to survive long in this dangerous game. All kinds of factors come into play, weather and hill preferences, physical condition and nerve.

So some days, they’re skiing with contending in mind, some days they’re skiing only to survive.

And sometimes – for the champions, most of the time – everything comes together in a perfect balance of risk and reward, and the only thought is to get to the bottom first, the only goal is to win.

For almost all of this World Cup season and the second half of the last, Manuel Osborne-Paradis has been in that happy place where his confidence and abilities are in a parallel crest. There wasn’t a race he couldn’t win, and he knew it.

Coming home to Whistler for the Olympic Games downhill, to the mountain where he learned the sport, coming into a situation with wild, unpredictable weather, where he knew so much more about the hill than his competition, there would obviously be no holding back.

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Osborne-Paradis was .12 seconds back of Defago’s time at the first interval, and had pulled even with him by the second. The crowd at the finish erupted when the numbers flashed on the big screen.

Al CHAREST/QMI AGENCY
But at nearly that same moment, heading into Coaches Corners, he made a mistake that slipped by in an instant.

“I had the ski fully loaded,” he said afterwards. “You go right into the dark (shadows) there, and I just couldn’t see some of the bumps, and it almost high sided me over”

In real time, it didn’t look like much, but it was enough. The speed lost in that corner killed Osborne-Paradis – who is normally a great glider – in the flats. His times slipped farther and farther behind Defago’s, and by the finish, he was 1.13 seconds – an eternity – back, which would eventually leave him in 17th place.

“One turn blew my whole race,” Osborne-Paradis said.

Read the entire article here.

Best of luck to the whole team in the upcoming Super G!

Interview with Penticton’s Shane Koyczan

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What were your hopes for this performance?

“In the arts community, lines are being drawn between people who are part of [the Olympics] and people who aren’t. People are upset about cuts to arts funding. My hope was to galvanize us again because the arts community has always had a strong united front.”

CTV

We Are More: Transcript of opening ceremony poem by Shane Koyczan

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Thanks to the Vancouver Sun for posting Shane’s poem. Here’s the link.

This was one of the most surprising and inspired choices from last night’s ceremonies.