Who Will Win Canada's First Gold?

January 15, 2010

So unless you live under a rock, I'm sure you've been reminded that during Canada's previous two home Olympics (Montreal '76, Calgary '88), Canada was unable to secure a gold medal. Aside from Yugoslavia (Sarajevo '84) we are the only host nation to carry this dubious distinction, and we are the only nation to have accomplished this feat twice.

Its not like Canada has been shutout of the medals at home. Montreal saw us win a fairly respectable 11 medals, 5 silver and 6 bronze. Calgary gave us 5 official medals...2 silver and 3 bronze...and three 1st place finishes in demonstration events. There just hasn't been any official gold.

Thankfully, that is almost a certainty to change in Vancouver. It would be nothing less than shocking for Canada to leave Vancouver without a gold medal, and in all probability we should win somewhere between 5-10 of them.

This certainty has then given the question of not "if Canada will win a Gold", but "who will be the first". So with that in mind, lets have a look at Day 2 of the Games, and the chances that Canada might see a Gold Medal on the first day. It might just come down to a matter of what event ends before the other:

Men’s NH Ski Jump – End Time: 11:25
No offence to the Ski Jumping crew, but with nobody currently ranked even in the Top 30 on the World Cup, it will take a miracle for this to be our first Gold.

Men’s Downhill – End Time: 1:15 PM
The Canadian Alpine team has taken a number of huge injury-related hits over the past month. Perhaps none are bigger than the loss of John Kucera to broken leg earlier this year. Prior to his injury, Kucera was a serious medal threat after winning the 2009 World Championship in Val d'Isère, France. Throw in the fact that this would have been on a home-mountain, and Kucera could have been the one to register the first gold.

However, even with the loss of Kucera, Canada’s relatively deep Alpine team provides two more medal hopefuls. Manuel Osborne-Paradis has two world cup Downhill victories to his name, including one in December (Val Gardena, Italy)...and finished 5th on the Downhill World Cup Circuit in 2009. Erik Guay is probably a long-shot, but with a World Cup Win from 2007, you can’t count him out.

Overall, Osborne-Paradis and Guay are medal threats, but it would probably still be a surprise to see either of them take gold. A medal out of either of them would be a success, so let’s not get picky on colour.

Long-Track Speed Skating (Men’s 5000m) – End Time: 2:20 PM
Although Canada’s Long-Track Speed Skating team should be very strong in Vancouver, the Men’s 5000m is not really one of the events we should be expecting a medal from. Lucas Makowsky has been the top Canadian at this distance for the past few seasons, and aside from a two 5th Place finishes in Salt Lake City in ’08 and ‘09 , he’s really more of a 15th-25th kind of result. A Top 10 would probably be considered a very successful outing.

Short-Track Speed Skating (Men’s 1500m) – End Time: 7:30 PM
Although there are three short-track speed skating events taking place on Day 2, there is only one that is a medal session…the Men’s 1500m. Canada has enjoyed a very good run of success at this distance over the past two years, having put 4 different athletes on the podium on the World Cup (Charles Hamelin, Olivier Jean, Remi Tinker, Francois-Louis Trembley). Of the four, Charles Hamelin is the best shot for Canada, having finished on the podium in the last two World-Cup events…including a win in Montreal.

At this point, I’m not completely sure who Canada will enter in this event, but given the depth of our team here, I’ll go out on a limb and say that getting shut out of the medals here will be a disappointment. This is even a potential multiple-medal event for Canada…and as such, is a very good chance for Canada to pick up our first Gold.

Women’s Moguls – End Time: 8:30 PM
If the Men are unsuccessful in getting a Gold in the Short-Track 1500m, then we have quite the weapons in reserve – Jenn Heil and Kristi Richards. Heil is of course the reigning 2006 Olympic Gold Medalist, and has recovered successfully from knee issues that forced her to take a year off. On five World Cup events this year, Jenn has three gold, a Bronze and a 5th. That impressive showing has been followed up by Kristi Richards, who has a Gold and Silver to her name this year. And if that’s not enough for you, Chloé Dufour-Lapointe has three Top-10 finishes.

Considering Jenn Heil’s Olympic record, and the fact that Canadian Women have won 4 of 5 World Cup Events this year, I think you would have to say that there is a very good chance we will take this one. Nothing is a certainty of course, but if I were a betting man, I’d look for Gold from one of Heil or Richards.


I gotta say, reading through that list, I like Canada's chances to take home Gold on Day 2!


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This blog is the online chronicle of our adventures leading up to, and including, the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. We hope to give you a little insight into what went into planning our trip and a first hand look at the Games from the ground in Vancouver.

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