Canada's next shots
Getting anxious yet?
Having only done a couple of these Olympic shindigs, the feeling of angst that surrounds Canada's usual troubles finding the podium is familiar, but strange. Throw in Marcel Aubut's opening-week guarantees, the money invested in Own the Podium, and the home-country fervour, and it seems a little over the top at times. The sense of disappointment at the finish line for the women's moguls, of deflation, was palpable in the crowd and in Jenn Heil. Both recovered quickly, but you know as long as this goes on it'll only get louder with us in the media, especially (the first real question Heil got last night was about pressure).
With Kristina Groves in the books with a bronze medal today at the speedskating oval, Canadian eyes turn to moguls tonight and the Alexandre Bilodeau Show against Vancouver native Dale Begg-Smith, now with Australia - and if DBS, the defending Olympic champion can repeat, unfortunately we can't claim a half-medal. Cue Chris Rudge, the Canadian Olympic boss, handicapping the field: "In a sense, we have five athletes. Unfortunately, one of them is wearing an Australian uniform."
So we'll see there. It won't be easy. Since Begg-Smith came back from an ACL injury this season he's been in ripping form, but he managed just a fourth placing in this afternoon's qualifying session (the final goes at 8:30 Eastern tonight). Bilodeau can only hope that that kind of favourite's form in the home snow/slush - or whatever it's rated as tonight - will give him some wings and indeed he was second best in the ranking (same as Jenn Heil in last night's women's event, and we know how that worked out), France's Guilbaut Colas qualifying best of all. Begg-Smith remains the solid favourite, and Dave Feschuk will be tweeting throughout and reporting from Cypress Mountain.
Elsewhere, it's full speed ahead here at Whistler for tomorrow's men's downhill. There will even be some women's downhill training, with Lindsey Vonn taking a fitness test. The weather forecast has a nice window Monday, then more nasty stuff moving in.
All eyes tomorrow with be on Manny Osborne-Paradis, considered to have a decent shot at a podium place in the downhill. Erik Guay, Robbie Dixon and Jan Hudec round out the Canadian contingent in an event that's wide open, Switzerland's Didier Cuche favoured but only slightly.
I'll be out there blogging here and twittering here, so join in. Wireless problems for me here in Whistler have limited the blogging today; tomorrow will be better.