Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Canada will win gold in Vancouver

Twenty-four months. That's how long it is until the Vancouver Olympic Games. I get more excited by the day.

I found this CTV article by Michael Stittle this morning, a little advertising for tomorrow's Olympic special "Olympic Journey: Calgary to Vancouver", airing tomorrow night on TSN.

Twenty years after the Calgary Winter Games, Canada is haunted by an
embarrassing fact -- it's the only country to have hosted the Olympics twice
without winning a gold medal.

But athletes should bring in a record haul in Vancouver, says CTV Olympic
Host Brian Williams.

"In the past, Canadians were content to show up and then that was good
enough. Showing up is not good enough," Williams told CTV.ca.

"This is not an intramural activity. They're on the world stage. I'm
not saying they all have to win medals, but you must show up and do your best."

Canada won 24 medals in Turin, the most ever captured at the Winter Games.
Sixteen of those medals were won by women like speed skater Cindy Klassen,
arguably won of the finest athletes the country has ever produced.

Williams said the Own the Podium program, launched in 2005, has
contributed greatly towards the growing success of Canada's amateur athletes. It
gives them much-needed support in terms of doctors, physiotherapists and
equipment specialists.


"I will tell you that as I travel across this country, Canadian
athletes are not intimidated by the pressure," said Williams. "In fact, they're
looking forward to it, they're thriving under it, and they're all talking about
who will be the first Canadian athlete to hear 'O Canada' on Canadian soil."


Stories of passion, of trying to overcome the odds, are already emerging among Canadian athletes looking toward the 2010 Games.

One of the most remarkable is cross-country skier Brian McKeever. He has less than 10 per cent of his vision -- he's legally blind -- but is considered one of the top competitors in the world.

McKeever's vision problems come from Stargardt's, a form of macular degeneration that has left him with only peripheral vision. Because of his condition, he relies on his brother Robin to guide him from behind during races.

Robin is a former Olympic athlete who competed at the Nagano Olympics in 1998. He gave up his Olympic aspirations to train McKeever, pushing him to fight beyond his limitations.

"Brian has competed in a regular world cup event and finished in the top half," said Williams.

"He hopes to compete in Vancouver-Whistler. The problem is that at the world cup, robin was there to ski behind him and direct him; at the Olympics, you're not allowed to have someone directing you. It will be interesting to see what happens, but it's a wonderful story."

If McKeever is allowed to compete with Canada's Olympics team, he'll have to deal with intense pressure to perform better than any other Canadian team in the history of the Winter Games.


Stoosh said...

Vancouver is going to be an absolutely beautiful backdrop for the Games.

The Olympic hockey is going to be insane in 2010...just absolutely insane. I can't wait. I'm hoping by that point, USA Hockey stops giving roster spots to some of these relics like Chelios, Hatcher, Guerin and Tkachuk and starts handing the keys to some of the kids.

It was good in Torino but I think it was hampered by the fact that some of the NHL players - especially the guys playing for the lower-tier teams - didn't have a whole lot of time between the NHL stoppage and their first games in Torino.

If the NHL is going to continue to send players to the Olympics - especially at non-North American host cities - I almost wish they'd shut it down for a full week or maybe 10 days before the Olympic hockey starts. That would allow these guys plenty of plenty of time to get to the games, get adjusted to the time changes and also get some practice time in as a team.

And who do I root for when Canada (and Crosby) plays the US?

Ashley said...

You should root for Canada, of course! haha no, you gotta cheer for your own. The Olympics are all about national pride! And I promise I won't be a Philly-type fan.

I'm tellin ya Stoosh, I have been so excited for the 2010 since it was announced that Vancouver won the bid in 2003. As the date gets closer and closer and all kinds of news is coming out...I think I'll need to take a valium or 5 by the time the Games get here :)

I think that Team USA will have a good team in 2010, and I think the powers-that-be will go for a young team. It seems like every time I look up a stat on some young player who is having a great week/month/season, he turns out to be American! Mark my words, the US and Canada will have a youth movement in 2010, because the aged veteran plan sure didn't work in Torino.

If I was putting together a team for 2010 for the States, I'd be thinking of guys like Ryan Miller, Rick DiPietro, Jack Johnson, Erik Johnson, Pat Kane, Zach Parise, Peter Mueller and Paul Stastny...among others. I predict (along with most others) that Canada's biggest rivalry will soon be the US, if it isn't already.

I hear ya about shuttin' down the NHL a week before the Games. I am a believer that the League should embrace the Olympics, see it as a battle between the absolute best athletes in the world. Why not let the best athletes perform at their best by giving them a few days for rest and practice?

I hope you guys win the silver medal in Vancouver :) hehe

Ashley said...

Hey Stoosh, since we were talking about Vancouver 2010 yesterday, I thought I'd post this.

Last night on the NHL on TSN, the panel talked about who they believe will be on Team Canada in 2010. Bob McKenzie talked to a bunch of GMs, scouts and others in the know to compile a list.

Roberto Luongo
Marty Brodeur
Cam Ward

Dan Boyle
Brian Campbell
Scott Niedermayer
Chris Pronger
Dion Phaneuf
Robyn Regehr
Shea Weber

Sidney Crosby
Simon Gagne
Ryan Getzlaf
Dany Heatley
Jarome Iginla
Vinny Lecavalier
Rick Nash
Marty St. Louis
Joe Sakic
Jason Spezza
Eric Staal
Joe Thornton
Jonathan Toews

Now, Pierre McGuire thinks that Brent Burns should be on the defence, and Darren Dreger would put Mike Richards in the mix.

If the real team is anything close to this...wow. I just hope they don't choke like in Torino.

Stoosh said...


That's about as imposing a team as anyone could imagine. I can't even begin trying to figure out how to defend that squad.

I'd be curious about the inclusions of Sakic and Niedermayer. I understand why Canada wants them on there, and I wouldn't have a problem including either of them; Lord knows they're still certainly able to contribute. I'd just have to wonder how they'd both be two years from now. Look at a guy like Jagr, who seems to have gotten really old really fast this year.

If Sakic can't go, Richards would definitely get in, although I'd still try to find a place for Richards, anyway. I can't stand Richards because he's a Flyer, but I'd love to have him on my team.

Stoosh said...

Forgot to mention...I don't think that team would be capable of choking.

I think Canada had problems in Torino because it may not have been the best mix of players. With this Canadian team, you'd have a slew of guys making their first appearance for Canada in the Olympics. Competitors like Crosby, Phaneuf, Richards, Getzlaf and Toews...those guys would be absolutely flying, and you'd have a lot of team-first leadership in that room.

It's going to be a treat just to see how Sid plays. He seemed to really love playing in the World Championships a couple of years ago (yet another reason I wanted the Pens to get Brad Boyes last year...his chemistry with Sid and Bergeron was unreal). He's going to be unreal.

Ashley said...

The whole Sakic/Niedermayer thing was talked about last night. The main reason why they're thinking about Sakic is his veteran leadership, and that he needs to be involved, if not on the ice, then in another capacity. He would be only 1 of 3 forwards who were on the 2002 team - assuming that this is the 2010 list. Another reason why Hockey Canada may want to pursue Sakic and Niedermayer and convince them to lace up (even if they have retired from the NHL by that time) is because the Olympics are basically in their backyard. The fans would be that much more into it.

Like you, I don't think that the team will choke this time around. They got one big public ass-whipping in 2006 (as you can see by the cartoon at the top left of this blog). Mark my words, I believe that the management team and coaching staff will be in place this summer to formulate a plan. I would not be surprised if they held some sort of preliminary camp at the end of this summer, just to get a sense of chemistry between players. For sure, there will be extensive camps in the summer of '09, and Hockey Canada will make sure that this team is competitive for the Olympics.

There's too much riding on these Games. It'll be an interesting 2 years of playing armchair GM!

Stoosh said...

I THOUGHT that's what the cartoon referenced, but I wasn't sure (I didn't know if you'd ever played before and if so, I thought maybe it was a reference to that).

If that's even remotely close to what Canada comes out with in 2010, the only teams that may have a prayer of keeping up with them will be Russia and the US, and I'm not sure either of those will be that close. Russia is top-heavy with Malkin, Ovie and Kovalchuk. I don't think their defense is good enough top to bottom. USA may have depth issues, too. They may be more balanced, but I don't think they'll be balanced enough.

That Canada team will be geared to handle a larger ice surface, which is one thing I thought may have hurt more than a few teams in Torino.

Do you follow the Canadian womens' teams at all? Only reason I ask is that my hometown may have a connection to the Canadian Olympic women's team in 2010. Meghan Agosta is considered to be the female version of Sidney Crosby, and the Vancouver Games will coincide with Agosta's senior season at Mercyhurst College in Erie.

She's pretty much put Mercyhurst's womens' program on the map in just a year and a half.

Ashley said...

About the ice surface - I am almost certain that Vancouver 2010 got permission from the IOC to use NHL-sized ice for the Games, that way they could use GM Place and not have to build a whole new arena. If this is indeed the case, then it favours teams made up of NHL players, like Canada and the US.

I'm not overly familiar with women's hockey, but I do like to watch the National Championships and the Worlds, not to mention the Olympics. I have heard of Agosta - she scored a hat trick against the Russians at the Olympics on her 19th birthday. I remember it being big news. She'll probably be the one to take over from Hayley Wickenheiser in the coming years.

I wouldn't be surprised if Agosta put her senior year on hold to compete at the Games. I remember a number of girls took the 2005-06 year off school in order to train for the Games. If I'm not mistaken, the women's team tends to train for a good 6 months before the Olympics, and those who normally compete in the WNHL took the season off as well.