This is one impressive looking crew, Canada's short track speed skating team, all decked out in their Olympic racing suits with the guys sporting a little extra facial hair.
They've got their Games faces on in this picture taken for Speed Skating Canada by Simon Pichette. Those are “playoff” beards you see, a little team building exercise, although it's an area in which baby-faced Guillaume Bastille (third from left) has certainly struggled.
Colleague Dave Feschuk returned from a media day in Montreal with the team this week (he got this story and a lot more for his story bank) and reports the team appears poised and primed to do some damage in Vancouver.
That's high praise, given that Fescher believes in compliments about as much as Leaf coach Ron Wilson does self-criticism or Mark McGwire self-reflection.
Feschuk is a grumpy young man. He's not afraid to ruffle feathers. Just ask the Raptors or Leafs. So it's good enough for me when he says he likes what he sees in this team.
Besides, Speed Skating Canada communications ace Mylene Croteau has been haranguing me all season for ignoring the short track team (Guilty as charged. Hey, it's hard to keep track of everybody! Short track has indeed gotten short changed.)
So here's the team from left to right: Olivier Jean, François-Louis Tremblay, Guillaume Bastille, Tania Vicent, Marianne St-Gelais, Kalyna Roberge, Valérie Maltais, Jessica Gregg, François Hamelin, older brother Charles Hamelin.
Keep an eye on them.
Hughes For Flagbearer: The story on Clara Hughes in today's Star gives you an idea of why she's such a great choice for flagbearer and the inspiring story she has to share. (Thought we might have gone a bit overboard on some of the headlines. It isn't an untold story. I actually wrote about the troubled past she overcame after the 2002 Salt Lake Games, but it's a tale certainly worth retelling at this point.)
But if you want to get another perspective on why Hughes will make a tremendous flagbearer, you should read the blog she posted on her website on Thursday about her relationship with the Four Host First Nations and the "brushing off" ceremony she attended. That's what she's all about, reaching out, making connections, trying to make a difference.
Cool New Website: Elizabeth Etue probably knows women's hockey better than anyone. She's written a book with Hayley Wickenheiser, done a lot of documentary work on the game and now has established what's being billed as “the one and only site and forum with in-depth information and entertainment for fans, players, parents, coaches and media in the women's international hockey world.”
You should check it out at winih.com
They are also looking for people to send them stories and pictures during the Games.