samedi 6 septembre 2008

Chinese short-track team in Kamloops

Percy Hébert - The Omega - Sep 03

The arena at McArthur Island Park was quiet except for the familiar sound that skate blades make with every stride. In the stands, a handful of spectators watched as coach Lin Yee put the Chinese short-track speed-skating team through its paces.

[hi!hi! voyez-vous ce skin ... du Canada!!]

“The training facilities we use in Beijing were used for volleyball during the Olympics,” explained Shang Lixin, team doctor. [...] The team of 10 men and 10 women has been training in Kamloops since mid-July in preparation for the upcoming World Cup Championships held in Vancouver Oct. 24 to 26.

Les meilleurs juniors à Chicoutimi

Johanne St-Pierre - Le Progrès-Dimanche -
CHICOUTIMI - Les meilleurs patineurs juniors du pays se donnent rendez-vous au Centre Georges-Vézina, les 20 et 21 décembre, à l’occasion des essais nationaux de patinage de vitesse courte piste. [...]
Parmi les favoris, on devrait normalement retrouver la Félicinoise Marianne Saint-Gelais, qui avait gagné la médaille de bronze au 500 m en janvier dernier, ainsi que la Baieriveraine Valérie Maltais, qui compte déjà deux par ticipations à ces mondiaux juniors (2006 et 2007) et Guillaume Blais-Dufour, fils du Baieriverain Gilles Dufour et double médaille des mondiaux junior 2008. À moins bien sûr qu’ils ne participent à d’autres compétitions au sein de l’équipe nationale. La Dolmissoise Laurie Marceau sera également à surveiller.

La Félicinoise Marianne Saint-Gelais devrait être au rendezvous,pour la sélection nationale junior de patinage de vitesse qui se tiendra au Centre Georges Vézina en décembre, dans le but de retourner au Championnat du monde junior qui, cette fois-ci,sera couru en sol québécois.

dimanche 31 août 2008

On thin ice

Selena Hinds - Winnipeg Free Press - Auguste 31th 2008
It'll be no walk in the park for Canada to 'own the podium' in Vancouver
This story is an extract from Selena Hinds' thesis toward her Masters degree in journalism from Carleton University. DR. Peter Davis has advised Olympic organizations in more than 20 countries and has a reputation for delivering results. He overhauled the system in his homeland, Australia, and watched his countrymen dominate the Games in Sydney in 2000. Now he's been hired to do for Canada, at Vancouver in 2010, what he did for Australia. And he is not sure he'll succeed. [...]

"Things are getting better every day, but whether they'll get better in time for 2010 Olympics, I struggle to see that. We'll certainly do better, but whether we'll hit the target? I don't know."

[...] The Canadian Olympic Committee put together a group of international sport experts led by Cathy Priestner Allinger, 1976 Olympic speed skating silver medallist turned sport administrator. Eight months later, it produced Own The Podium. Dr. Roger Jackson, a three-time Canadian Olympian, became CEO and lured Davis from Australia to drive the sport science, medicine and technology arm. [...]

The centre of Canada's efforts is Canada Olympic Park in northwest Calgary, where Jackson works. He's employed a team of enthusiastic high- performance advisers to keep watch over all the sports. Daniel Lefebvre, for example, left his coaching job at Biathlon Canada to manage OTP's relationships with alpine and freestyle skiing, short and long track speed skating, and hockey.
[...] As an outsider looking in, Lefebvre says he is able to see where sports require improvement and offers solutions. He is at the heart of a new sport culture that's pushing sport organizations, coaches and athletes to produce better results.
"I say let's not look at what you're doing good, let's look at what you can do better," Lefebvre said. "Speed skating's shooting for 15 medals. Great! How do we get to 20?"

[...] But beneath the fanfare, there are rumblings of concern and discontent. Critics say there are flaws in OTP's design and its execution has been far from problem free. [...]
Dr. Cal Botterill, one of Canada's top sports psychologists
"For me, the first mistake OTP made was making the projections unilaterally, without the input from athletes. If you run a company, if you're smart, you do your goal setting with your employees," Botterill said. "You don't come in here and say, here's what we're going to do - do this, do that. I think the athletes would have set pretty ambitious goals."
[...] Botterill also thinks OTP has too many athletes listed as medal prospects. He warns there are real risks to dubbing athletes medal contenders before they are ready. As soon as success becomes "have to", rather than "want to", athletes are prone to fear failure.

"When you put people up as favourites before they are ready, it's often problematic because they haven't learned to be favourites. Wayne Gretzky, Tiger Woods, have learned to be a favourites," Botterill said. "If we put all of our young amateur athletes in the same circumstances without the experience of being a favourite and learning to do that, we're doing a disservice to them."

In its early days, Own the Podium staff estimated Canada would need to win 35 medals to become the top medal winning country in Vancouver. In 2007, the Canadian Olympic Committee backed off on the target, suggesting the goal was simply to finish first in overall medal count, not to achieve a specific medal count. But the initial breakdown is indicative of where expectations lie:
Predicted medals
Tier One "must win"
Long track speed skating 8

Short track speed skating 7
Ice hockey 2
Curling 2
Figure skating 3

Tier Two "high priority"
Alpine skiing 3
Freestyle skiing 3
Snowboarding 2
Cross-country skiing 1
Tier Three "targeted athletes"
Biathlon 1
Bobsleigh 1
Skeleton 1
Luge 1
Ski jumping 0
Nordic combined 0
Source: Own the Podium 2010 -- Final Report. Sept. 2004

What's a Canadian Olympian Worth?

JAMES DEACON, AOL Sports - August 28th 2008

You can go and vote :
Do you think Canada's athletes should receive more funding?
How would you rate Canada's performance at the Olympics?

What value should Canadians place on the women and men who wear the country’s colours in Beijing? There’s no easy answer. Some people claim too much is spent on elite athletes who compete at major international competitions for Canada.

[...] We set aside our differences and cheered Henderson’s goal in 1972, Gretzky’s drop pass and Lemieux’s wrister in 1991, Bailey’s 100 metres and the relay team in 1996, and Catriona Le May Doan’s Games-changing 500-m gold medal in 2002, which then was soon buried under the ecstasy of the men’s gold-medal hockey game at Salt Lake City.

[...] There are stories like that at every Games.

And here’s another: At the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, the final event in which Canada had an entrant was the men’s short-track speed-skating relay. Short-track is more popular in Quebec than in the rest of Canada, and its four members reflected that — the team was composed of three Quebeckers (Éric Bédard, Marc Gagnon, François Drolet) and an Ontarian (Derrick Campbell).
The Canadians were underdogs and therefore surprise finalists, but it’s impossible to handicap a sport that can play out like a demolition derby. And sure enough, the Canadians — led by the fierce veteran Marc Gagnon — captured a thrilling gold.
Since it was the last event on Canada’s agenda, many of the skaters Olympic teammates from other sports had the night off and were there to watch. There were skiers, sledders and even a few millionaire hockey players, and they all went completely nuts when the race was won, joyfully lavishing cheers and hugs on the unlikely champions. You should have seen it. The skaters were so happy, and wrapped themselves in one huge Canadian flag for their lap of honour around the track. It didn’t matter at that moment that, back home, their province and country were going through a particularly dicey, pre-referendum time. It didn’t matter that three of the guys were from parts of Quebec that, in the eventual referendum, heavily supported separation.

It wasn’t important. What mattered, and what was shown on TV sets a world away, was that four scrappy, underdog speed-skaters had just won a completely unexpected gold medal for Canada. They were happy, and so were the folks back home. It was a feel-good moment of Olympic proportions. Millions get spent every year on programs designed to help keep the country whole. But none of those programs compare to the spontaneous joy and nation-building impact of the short-trackers late that Saturday night in Nagano.

So what’s an Olympian worth? In Canada, quite a lot.

With Beijing in the rear-view mirror, here are athletes to watch for 2010, 2012

Amy Rosewater - ESPN - August 31 2008
[...] In 536 days, on Feb. 12, 2010, the Winter Olympics begin in Vancouver. [...]

The host countries usually make an extra push for the medal podium, and Canada and Great Britain are no exceptions to this rule. Canada ranked third overall with 24 medals in 2006 (seven gold, 10 silver, seven bronze), an improvement from 17 in 2002. Back in 1988, when Canada previously played host to the Winter Games in Calgary, the home country didn't bring home any gold (two silvers and three bronze). [...]
Although predicting Olympic futures is hardly an exact science -- wasn't Tyson Gay supposed to be a headliner in Beijing? And wasn't Bode Miller predicted to be the king of Torino? -- we've tried to compile a list of athletes who should figure prominently in the upcoming Winter Olympics in Vancouver ...

2010 Vancouver Games
Apolo Anton Ohno: When he's not dancing with the stars, he's quite a short-track speedskater. Ohno, who has won five Olympic medals (two gold) in two trips to the Winter Olympics, could be back on the medal stand in 2010.
Shani Davis: Competing in Canada shouldn't be too problematic for U.S. speed skater Shani Davis considering he's trained in Calgary since 2002. The gold and silver medalist at the 2006 Olympics, Davis could find himself a champion again in Vancouver. For his sake, however, he hopes that controversy won't find him there. In 2002, there was talk that Ohno threw a race to help Davis make the Olympic team. And in 2006, Davis was criticized roundly for not participating in the team pursuit, an event he hadn't planned on entering, but one many thought the United States could win with him in the lineup.
Cindy Klassen: Klassen always dreamed about competing in the Olympics, but she thought that dream would be in ice hockey. When she didn't make Canada's team in 1998, so she decided to switch to speedskating. It proved to be a wise choice. Four years later, in Salt Lake City, she won a bronze medal. In Torino, she became Canada's most decorated Olympian, winning five medals (one gold). Now, she could win even more.

More -
Spreading our wings - Cam Cole - Vancouver Sun August 27th 2008
Memories of a gold drought in Calgary will be banished by our expanding skill set
Excitement for 2010 Olympics builds on both sides of border - Herald Net - August 27th 2008
With the close of the Beijing Games on Sunday, attention is now turning to the Eastern edge of the Pacific Rim, to ­Vancouver and Whistler, B.C., where the 2010 Winter Olympics will be held in just 18 months.