John Wood

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Usually I wouldn’t be inclined to declare who my childhood heroes were, but in this case I’ll make an exception.  Found this photo on the web today and it brought back memories of striving to improve as a competitive paddler.  John Wood (pictured above) raced to an exhilarating silver medal in the Men’s C1 (canoeing) at the Montreal Olympics.  

Not only was he racing in the days when competitors from the Soviet bloc were systematically doping, he also lost the 1976 Olympic 500m race by about 5cm.  This was a Games where Canada notoriously won multiple silvers and bronzes, but failed to win a single gold.  

Wood’s race on a level playing field would have been a gold medal result.  It remains one of the heartbreaks of the Canadian Olympic movement.  The greatest canoeist of his generation.

Cain still passionate about paddling

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I discovered the article below about Larry Cain this morning while looking for results from the Canadian National paddling championships being held in Saskatchewan. This is a photo I took while on a shoot at the Burloak Canoe and Kayak Club with Catriona LeMay Doan for CBC Sports coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Pictured here is Larry Cain, gold and silver medalist at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Right behind him is one of the flotilla of young paddlers he trains with daily.
Larry Cain, originally uploaded by inklake.

At 47, Cain still races at a high level while surrounded by canoeists who are considerably younger.

“Now it’s fun for a different reason. It’s fun because I’m coaching. For me to play a part in helping them reach their goals is really gratifying — although that’s not to diminish the fact that it was really fun to race.”

From the outset of an interview, Larry Cain was fourthcoming about his past.

Cain — who won gold and silver medals in canoeing for Canada at the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles — made light of his near-medal performance of four years later during a rare respite Friday at the Canadian sprint canoe-kayak championships in Regina.

“My friends took me out and gave me the top of a beer can with a string through it,” recalled Cain, who was fourth in the C-1 1,000 metres at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. “They called it an aluminum medal.”

The gold and silver medals — won in the C-1 1,500m and C-1 1,000m, respectively — are displayed on a shelf at Cain’s home in Oakville, Ont., where he coaches with the Burloak Canoe Club. He is happy to discuss his own accomplishments, but becomes especially animated and expansive when talking about medals won and sacrifices made by the canoeists he coaches.

Cain also found time to win a gold medal of his own on Friday. Along with Aaron Rublee, Cory Rublee and Evan Smith, Cain won a men’s C-4 1,000m race and the accompanying John W. Black Trophy (which was first presented in 1905). The Black Trophy is among the most-coveted awards at the nationals, which are in their 111th year.

“It was a lot of fun for me to win it with them,” Cain said of the efforts dedicated toward winning the Black Trophy. “I’m really here as a coach, but it’s great to be able to get out and race. That part of my career is not really my focus anymore.

Read entire article here.

History made by Canada’s XC skiers

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Amazing results from the Canadian trio of Babikov, Grey and Harvey.

Three skiers in the top nine. Just fantastic!

Canada's George Grey, right, comes to the aid of an exhausted Ivan Babikov after the pursuit on Saturday. (Javier Soriano/Getty Images)

Canada was the only country with three skiers in the top 10.

Ivan Babikov of Canmore, Alta., led the way, just 9.1 seconds back in fifth place.

National team veteran George Grey of Rossland, B.C., was eighth in 1:15.32, immediately followed by Alex Harvey of St-Ferreol-les-nieges, Que., in ninth place.

Harvey was 11 seconds behind Grey.

Devon Kershaw of Sudbury, Ont. was 16th at 1:16.23.6. A total of 64 from around the world entered the competition.

The Canadians took turns flirting with the lead pack. Grey and Babikov were sitting sixth and seventh respectively at the 22.5k mark, with Harvey overtaking them for a while.

Canadian men have never reached the Olympic podium, but the performance was cause for hope.

To put it into perspective, the top trio of Canadians finished ahead of previous Olympic medallists Petter Northug of Norway, Dario Cologna of Switzerland and Pietro Piller Cotter of Italy.

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!


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.


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.

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.”


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.

kd lang steals show in opening ceremonies

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kd lang’s performance of fellow Canadian Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” absolutely stole the show, hitting just the right balance between celebration and mourning last night. I’ve never seen the song rendered so soulfully. One of the most memorable moments of an often truly inspired opening ceremonies, and especially moving given the moment of silence given to the Georgian Luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili.

Below is a version recorded earlier in concert since the OL version is not available …

I thought the Georgia Straight really nailed it with this list of remarkable events in the Opening Ceremonies. I especially agree with the choice of slam poet Shane Koyczan:

Vancouver Olympics opening ceremonies: the top five surprise artsy moments
By Janet Smith

Usually Olympics opening extravaganzas are about pomp and ceremony—big stars and obvious symbolism.

So imagine the Straight ‘s arts section’s surprise to see some genuinely eccentric, even subversive choices on the roster at last night’s big bash at B.C. Place Stadium—and no, we’re not talking about Bryan Adams.

Here, then, are the top five moments that made us proud:

1. A visit by Brock Jellison, former Tap Dog, head of Vancouver’s Ruckus Company Productions: great to see this rock ‘n’ roll rebel in tap shoes.

2. A surprise appearance by Shane Koyczan, representin’, unimaginably, for the city’s thriving slam-poetry community—a gang usually relegated to coffee houses.

3. Jean Grand-Maître’s inventive choreography: hard to know if it translated to the folks watching it live at B.C. Place, but the Alberta Ballet maestro crafted some truly transcendent moments.

4. One-time cowpunker k.d. lang singing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah : sublime, in the most un-extravaganza-ish way.

5. Mohawked fiddler-bad boy Ashley MacIsaac stomping his combat boots and kicking up his kilt .

Georgia Straight

Barely covered at Cypress

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Below I posted a photo showing the snowless state of Cypress Mountain these days. This shot is what the Olympic moguls run looks like just below that grass-covered peak.

Photograph by: Mark Ralston, AFP/Getty Images

Vancouver digital media takes on the giants

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Very interesting article on the dualing media getting set for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. The world’s first truly digital games are starting in 4 days. We’ll soon see whose voice carries the farthest.

Huffington Post column here.

… we might not find out what’s going on simply by watching television or reading the papers, as these media forms also behave quite peculiarly during an Olympic Games. It is common for a host city’s national media to report considerable anger and anxiety about an Olympic Games on its approach, as these are the headlines that generate the most attention. However, as the Games begin, this agenda shifts towards being the good host, welcoming the world and celebrating the sports achievements. Indeed, given that the mass media pay for this privilege, nearly all of their resources are dedicated to sports stories and very little else can catch their attention. To this end, the disenfranchised communities of Vancouver will need alternative media allies if they hope to reach the attention of both their local and global audiences.

btw, W2 Culture + Media House opens this Wednesday and Thursday with a 9:30am ribbon cutting ceremony with Mayor Gregor Robertson on Wednesday.

“W2 is all about using intelligent tactics to provide a place for Vancouverites to tell their stories”, says Irwin Oostindie, executive director. Although partially embedded in the Olympics in their relationship with the Cultural Olympiad, they are comfortable with the dialogue that will result from the games. “We’re an independent cultural institution that provides guaranteed access for its citizens for training, access, broadcast, and sharing their stories,” says Oostindie. With partners in alternative, independent, and citizen journalism, they expect to be here long after the Olympics leave.

Full article here in Vancouver Observer.

Boxing Roo to stay!

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I love the stand our Mayor took on this issue. From facebook:

Gregor Robertson

glad the aussie team flag will fly at olympic village – no need to make room for it on city hall now!


The giant boxing kangaroo flag will continue to fly in the athletes’ village in Vancouver after Australian Olympic bosses reached an agreement with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The IOC wanted it removed but Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) president John Coates says he has reached a compromise and it can now stay in place for the duration of the Winter Olympic Games.

“But we will need to register the boxing kangaroo with the IOC as the third identification we have,” he said.

While it is already an Australian Olympic trademark, the boxing kangaroo will now be registered with the IOC along with Australia’s national flag and the coat of arms.

The IOC initially asked the Australian team to take down the banner because it was deemed too commercial.

Read the whole article here.

Alpine Canada sends 19 to Whistler

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Julien Cousineau, an Olympian after a spectacular 5th in Schladming last weekend

Named to the team today are:


• Brigitte Acton, Mont Tremblant, Que.
• Emily Brydon, Fernie, B.C.
• Marie-Michele Gagnon, Lac Etchemin, Que.
• Anna Goodman, Montreal
• Britt Janyk, Whistler, B.C.
• Shona Rubens, Canmore, Alta.
• Erin Mielzynski, Guelph, Ont.


• Julien Cousineau, Lachute, Que.
• Robbie Dixon, Whistler
• Jeffrey Frisch, Mont Tremblant
• Erik Guay, Mont Tremblant
• Louis-Pierre Helie, Berthierville, Que.
• Jan Hudec, Calgary
• Michael Janyk, Whistler
• Tyler Nella, Toronto
• Manuel Osborne-Paradis, Invermere, B.C.
• Ryan Semple, Mont Tremblant
• Brad Spence, Calgary
• Trevor White, Calgary

Vancouver 2010 Pavilions & Hospitality Houses

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Great post from Miss604 today. Easily the best part about any Olympics is the people you meet from around the world. If you’ve ever been in an Olympic city or to a Cultural Olympiad before, you have memories of everything from giving directions to the nearest hotel or bar to striking up friendships that can last for years …

The Olympics are a time for the host nation and city to shine brightly but they are also about bringing the world together.

Vancouver will be a temporary home for athletes and visitors from dozens of countries during the 2010 Olympics and there are many who have rented spaces around town to showcase their culture, cuisine, and hospitality for visitors and residents a like.

Read the whole blog post here.

Festivals help Vancouver forge a shared cultural identity

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Keep an eye out for this series of articles in the Vancouver Sun. On the verge of a massive Cultural Olympiad and the celebrated contemporary PuSh festival, this series offers a little perspective on the cultural importance of festivals to Vancouverites. Some of us build our holidays around local festivals …

Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival
… we continue a series of essays that aim to deepen our understanding of the world in which we live, and offer provocative and informed views on cultural issues.

Veda Hille performing at the PuSh Festival

VANCOUVER — As the city anticipates the opening of the PuSh Festival on Wednesday, with the massive, eight-week Cultural Olympiad hot on its heels, it makes sense to reflect upon how we chronicle the most social expression of artistic culture: the festival.

Vancouver’s lively arts scene and rich festival tradition are hallmarks of the city’s cultural identity.

summer days at the Vancouver Folk Festival

A raft of arts festivals sprouted up within a few years of each other in the 1980s and early 1990s, a very rich time for Vancouver culture: among them, the Vancouver International Fringe Festival in 1985, the Vancouver Queer Film Festival in 1989, and the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival in 1990. The Vancouver International Jazz Festival was first mounted in 1986, and the International Folk Music Festival goes back even further, having been founded in 1978. With their long histories, these festivals have become traditions that many Vancouverites have grown up with.

To read the entire article, click here.

Will Vancouver meet Olympic promise of helping the poor?

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We can expect the world’s media to follow this story closely when the Games begin in a month. Here is an article from the Seattle Times picking up the topic of Vancouver’s poor.

By Kristi Heim
Seattle Times business reporter
VANCOUVER, B.C. — When the Winter Olympics kick off next month, visitors will see the snow-capped mountains, sparkling coastline and international culture that elevated this city to the ranks of the most livable cities on Earth.

But local activists are planning to showcase another side of Vancouver: chronic homelessness, open drug dealing, mental illness and prostitution that mar the neighborhood only blocks from some Olympic venues.

A few days before the official Games begin, advocates for the poor will stage a “Poverty Olympics,” aiming to push the city’s social problems into the global spotlight. The parody, which claims to “reflect the unique local flavor of the host city,” has a cockroach, a bedbug and a rat as mascots.

“In the Downtown Eastside, the street scene isn’t so pretty,” said longtime community activist Jean Swanson, referring to the neighborhood that a U.N. official called one of the worst slums of a wealthy city.

Read entire article here.

Olympic mayor aiming even higher

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gregor epic

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says he likes his job, plans to seek re-election and has zero interest in standing for provincial office.

In a wide-ranging interview marking his first full year at city hall, Robertson said he’s happy with the progress he’s made so far. But he still has a long list of things he wants to do, including helping create a slew of green jobs.

And that may take years. “I’m intending to run again for another term as mayor,” he vowed.

There had been speculation that, after the Olympics, Gordon Campbell might step down as premier, paving the way for a new leader of the Liberal party — and the NDP. And the personable Robertson, a former Vancouver-Fairview MLA, had been touted as a replacement for current NDP leader Carole James.

However, the Vision Vancouver mayor dismissed such aspirations. “I like the job, and it’s good to have stability and a record of achievement here at city hall and getting things on track,” he said. “So the provincial scene is of no interest right now.”

Read the whole article here.

Vancouver unveils medals … jury still out on design

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olympic medal

Organizers proudly revealed the medals today for the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver and the description was naturally enthusiastic:
“The medals, revealed today, each feature a different crop of larger contemporary Aboriginal artworks and are undulating rather than flat — both firsts in Games history. The dramatic form of the Vancouver 2010 medals is inspired by the ocean waves, drifting snow and mountainous landscape found in the Games region and throughout Canada. The Olympic medals are circular in shape, while the Paralympic medals are a superellipse, or squared circle.”

A couple of random thoughts. Whenever you can get the word undulating in a release, it’s impressive. Let’s put it this way … that word doesn’t make its way into NBA copy very often. And if it did, a phone call from an editor would probably follow.

After a morning of looking at images of the medals, and two cups of coffee later, I am still not sure whether I like the look. But the viewpoint of a junior high art-class laggard hardly matters and, quite frankly, no athlete is going to quibble with the quality of appearance of a gold medal.

Colleague Ron Judd, columnist at the Seattle Times, summed it up quite nicely on his Twitter feed this morning: “Vancouver 2010 medals display traditional native 45-RPM-record-left-on-dashboard-in-sun design.”

He probably got all A’s in art class.

— Lisa Dillman

LA Times

Vancouver buildings show their Olympic spirit

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I really like this. I know there are pockets of serious, principled resistance to the Olympics in Vancouver, but I don’t see the Games as the “evil” that some do. Never have really. I have lived and experienced one Olympics as a resident, when I was going to university in Oslo, Norway, and this has had a profound effect on my life. There was opposition there too, but when the Olympics finally began, a remarkable transformation began in the country. It was genuine and it was incredibly uplifting. I’ll never forget it.


I’m hoping that something similar happens in Vancouver, because the city deserves it, and so do so many of us who are going through hardship because of the recession. This extends to so many in the arts community and all the other social profit sector workers who have been hit so hard by the short-sighted Campbell cuts. I know many blame the Olympics for our problems, but I don’t buy it. These economic issues are much bigger than the cost of an Olympics. What we’re seeing is the unfortunate convergence of several issues at once, and we have to resist conflating issues that don’t belong together. It is not the Olympics that are costing the social sector workers in British Columbia. It’s the foolish economic moves made by a government that doesn’t have the intellectual capital to value its own civil society well enough.

Anyway, back to some of the first signs that the Olympics are going bold and public. If a city is going to hold an Olympic Games, do it with a big heart and invite the world in. Hopefully this is just a start:

Photograph by: Jenelle Schneider, Vancouver Sun
Photograph by: Jenelle Schneider, Vancouver Sun

VANCOUVER — Expect huge Olympic images on about 10 Vancouver buildings before the 2010 Games begin next year, with another 20 to 30 smaller Olympic-themed visual projects on pavilions, hospitality centres and retail outlets.

That was the estimate Wednesday from City of Vancouver Olympic operations director Paul Henderson as the Bay building at Georgia and Granville officially unveils its new Olympic look with a series of five-metre-by-16-metre banners decorating the historic building’s exterior.

The city had earlier planned to restrict the installation of 2010 building murals and graphic designs until Jan. 1, 2010, but relaxed the rules to allow them as early as Thursday.

Read the rest of the article here.

Canada’s cross-country ski team the strongest ever

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This is big news. Canada has been a perennial force in alpine skiing, but to have a strong cross-country team is really new. Props to them for the rapid development.

Photograph by: Dominic Ebenbichler, Reuters
Photograph by: Dominic Ebenbichler, Reuters

By Kristina Rutherford, CTVOlympics.ca
September 24

The strongest cross-country ski team in Canadian history is gearing up for the Vancouver Olympics.

Never before has Canada fielded a team with the number of medal contenders as the one preparing to kick off the World Cup season, national team leader Dave Wood said Thursday following the team’s official announcement in Canmore, Alta.

“The team we’ll take into the Games next February, I believe, will be the strongest and the deepest team we’ve ever head,” said Wood, a fixture with the national program for more than a decade.

“In 2006, we had a couple of strong people. In 2002 we had one. And now, we’ve got four boys that had podiums last year in the World Cup. Sara Renner and Chandra Crawford have had podiums everywhere.

“Things are looking good for us.”

Read the entire article here.