Olympics

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.
BY ROB VANSTONE, LEADER-POST AUGUST 28, 2010

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!

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.

—-

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