Things looking very good for Canada on road to Sochi 2014
It’s just over two years until the Sochi Olympics, but the signs are good right now for another Canadian tour de force showing like we saw in Vancouver.
Canada just finished quite a week on snow and ice, one that shows the country’s had a healthy blood transfusion since the last Games and that many of the stalwarts are as good as ever.
You’ve got to like the attitude of a team that will include speed skater Christine Nesbitt, who set the two fastest times ever in the world in the women’s 1,000 metres but true to her feisty self was not happy with winning the silver medal overall at the world sprint championships in Calgary.
Canada has a reputation for excelling in the new sports at an Olympics and Sochi may prove no exception. Dedicating their victories to teammate Sarah Burke, who played a big role in getting the events into Sochi, Kaya Turski won the gold medal in slopestyle and Roz Groenewoud on the superpipe at the X Games in Aspen. Turski is unbeaten this season.
They weren’t the only Canadians winning gold at the X Games as Chris Del Bosco won the men’s ski cross event followed by Dave Duncan for the bronze and Dominique Maltais won the women’s Snowboard X event. Maltais was a dominant performer heading into the last Olympics but came up short on the big day. Great for Canada that she’s stuck around.
Canada is blessed enough to have enough depth on the men’s moguls freeestyle skiing side that while Olympic champion Alex Bilodeau is missing most of this season to train and focus on his studies, Mikael Kingsbury is lighting things up with victories in all five men’s moguls events this season.
Meanwhile, Olivier Rochon has stepped it up in men’s freestyle aerials in the absence of world champion Warren Shouldice, out for the season with a concussion. Already with a silver medal to his credit this season, Rochon pulled off his first ever victory in a World Cup on Sunday in Calgary.
Then there was the second-place finish by downhiller Erik Guay at what’s become like his home course in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, his first podium in a season where he’s focused on rebuilding his back strength. The cross country skiers have looked, too, this season, headed by Devon Kershaw, Alex Harvey and Chandra Crawford.
Then you’ve got the sliders who can be on the podium in any race, luger Alex Gough, skeleton racer Melissa Hollingsworth, and bobsled drivers Kaillie Humphries and Lyndon Rush. Gough has challenged the front-running German women's team like no other luger.
Two years is a long time, but weeks like the one just finished will have us hoping for it to come a lot quicker.
(The picture is of Roz Groenewoud in the superpipe in Aspen: AP Photo/The Denver Post, Kristin Braga Wright)