Canada's Olympic goals may be out of reach
The Canadian PressSaturday, February 22, 2014
SOCHI, Russia - Finishing with the most medals appears out of reach but Canada can still match its Olympic performance from four years ago.
Canada's Olympic team heads into the final day of the Sochi Games with 24 medals, two shy of the mark set at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
The Canadian Olympic Committee entered Sochi with the aim of finishing atop the overall medal standings, but it's out of time. Russia leads with 29 medals, while the United States has 27 and Norway follows with 26.
Canada is guaranteed at least 25 medals with the men's hockey team playing for gold against Sweden, and there's still a slim chance that number could increase. Canadians are entered in men's four-man bobsled but have some work to do to make the podium. There's also an appeal in men's skicross that, if successful, could bring in another gold. Canadians are also racing in the men's 50-kilometre cross-country ski event Sunday, though they are longshots for a medal.
Canada came closest to adding another medal Saturday in the long-track speedskating men's team pursuit. Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., Mathieu Giroux of Pointe-Aux-Trembles, Que., and Regina's Lucas Makowsky finished fourth in their bronze-medal race behind Poland.
The trio had heavy legs after going all out in their semifinal loss to South Korea a night earlier. Poland, meanwhile, coasted against the powerful Dutch team with an eye on winning bronze the next day.
"We showed our Canadian pride, our Canadian spirit," Morrison said. "Going into that semifinal that we had against (South) Korea, they're the No. 2 ranked team in the world, we knew they were going to have a good time, and we put down our very best race.
"We couldn't beat them but we can hold our heads high knowing that we tried to go for the gold."
Canada led for all but the last two laps of the eight-lap race, fading to finish in three minutes 44.27 seconds. Poland crossed in 3:41.94 for bronze.
Morrison took some responsibility for the loss. The 28-year-old already has two medals, a silver in the 1,000 metres and bronze in the 1,500, but said he had difficulty keeping speed in the final laps.
"We didn't have the legs, and Denny, he's had a very good Olympics, and managing those highs and all the ceremonies that come with it cost a lot of energy," said Canadian coach Bart Schouten. "I think he's done really well with that, but at some point energy might run a little bit lower."
There was more disappointment in bobsled.
The Canada 3 sled piloted by Justin Kripps was running eighth after the first heat and looked fast early in its second heat. But the sled tipped over heading into a corner and slid to the finish with the helmets of Kripps, Jesse Lumsden, Cody Sorensen and Ben Coakwell dragging on the ice.
All four athletes walked away from the crash.
"They're all fine, they're being looked at by the doctors as we speak and I don't anticipate any problems," said coach Tom De La Hunty.
The Canada 2 sled of pilot Lyndon Rush, Lascelles Brown, David Bissett and Neville Wright will need help to move up from 10th place during the final two heats of the event Sunday.
Canada 1 — consisting of pilot Chris Spring, Timothy Randall, James McNaughton and Bryan Barnett — was tied for 13th.
Canada 3 is last in the 30-sled field but because it crossed the finish line it can compete again in the third heat, although it's unlikely Kripps will qualify for the final heat.
One more medal — a gold no less — could be won by Canada if an appeal goes its way.
Canada and Slovenia have appealed the final results of men's skicross in which France's Jean-Frederic Chapuis, Arnaud Bovolenta and Jonathan Midol swept the podium and Calgary's Brady Leman finished fourth.
The teams are alleging French officials changed the shape of its athletes' ski pants to improve aerodynamics. If successful, Leman would be awarded gold while Russia's Egor Korotkov would take silver and bronze would go to Slovenia's Filip Flisar.
A decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport is expected Sunday.