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Bronze for Beaulieu-Marchand
On Saturday, Canada won another medal on the slopes. This time it came in the men’s freestyle skiing slopestyle event at Phoenix Snow Park in Pyeongchang. Canada’s Alex Beaulieu-Marchand won bronze with a 92.40 score. Beaulieu-Marchand had an opportunity to move up from bronze to silver or gold, but his third-run score of 82.40 kept him in third. He had a cheering squad of bare-chested Canadian moguls skiers with his initials pained on their chests as the Quebec City native improved on his previous performance when he was the only Canadian in the event in Sochi, placing 12th.
With a quick start to the Games, Canada is on pace to eclipse the 25 and 26 medal counts at the last two Olympics. As impressive as their medal count of 16 is to date, the Olympic Winter Games schedule sets up for more podium trips during the final week. Despite two straight losses, Kevin Koe and his rink are favoured to get a medal in men’s curling in his first Olympics. Rachel Homan and her team will be happy just to get to the medal round after starting 0-3 but have won two straight. Flag bearers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are the favourites to win gold in ice dancing on Monday, but will have to contend with Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France. Elsewhere, Kaillie Humphries and Phylicia George attempt to get Humphries her third straight title in women’s bobsleigh on Tuesday.
Three Canadian sleds have already qualified for the two-man men’s final. The women’s hockey team is almost a lock for a medal as rival U.S. is the only team that can beat them in the final on Wednesday. The men’s team is the defending champion, but that was with professionals. The expectation is still medalling on Saturday, and they’ve already qualified for the quarterfinals. Canadian snowboarders Mark McMorris and Max Parrot will be medal contenders again big air on Friday.
Another positive Russian test
American electoral tampering isn’t the only news of Russian cheating in the news. A Russian curler at the Olympic Games has been accused of a doping violation. More than 160 Russians are competing under strict conditions because Russia was penalized for widespread doping at the 2014 Games in Sochi. Male curler Alexander Krushelnytsky produced a sample with Meldonium in his urine. He has already won bronze in mixed curling. Krushelnytsky’s B-sample will be tested on Monday.
The veil of suspension about Russians in all sports is exactly why Russian athletes shouldn’t be competing at these Games. After it has been proven that their doping was widespread and state sponsored, any positive tests from a Russian athlete are perceived as part of a greater plot not a rogue actor. The Oscar nominated Netflix documentary Icarus and a recent 60 minutes investigation detailed the great lengths at all levels of government Russia went to in order to cheat.
Even though the “Olympic Athletes From Russia” moniker separates them from their country and flag, that is just a technicality. The message it would have sent as a deterrent and the public faith in ensuring this is a clean competition would outweigh any potential cons. Now the Winter Olympic Games have an asterisk once again.
Prominent Canadians in action on Day 10:
Here is what’s on tap events-wise for Canadian athletes (all times Eastern):
• Curling: Feb. 18, 7:05 p.m. – Feb. 19, 12:05 a.m.
Women’s Curling Round-Robin – Japan vs Canada (7:05 p.m.)
After an 0-3 start, the Canadian women’s curling team has started to turn things around, winning two straight. First it was a dominant win over the United States followed by a tight victory over Switzerland. After struggling early, Rachel Homan scored three points in the ninth end and stole a single in the 10th to secure a Canadian win without extras.
Men’s Curling Round-Robin – Canada vs United States (12:05 a.m.)
After his second straight loss, Kevin Koe is in a battle for a playoff spot. Yesterday, a shaky start because of a Canadian rock that sailed through the house meant it was 4-0 for Switzerland after one end. Team Koe, in their four years together, have given up four in the first end only three times and are now 1-2 in those instances. With a 4-2 record, the Calgary foursome remain tied for second spot with Switzerland.
• Figure Skating: Feb. 18, 8:00 p.m.
Ice Dancing – Short Dance (8:00 p.m.)
Canada is the favourite so tune in if your TV surfing for medal contenders. This is likely one of the last times you’ll be able to see Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir compete.
• Hockey: Feb. 18, 7:10 a.m.
Women’s Hockey Semifinals – Canada vs Olympic Athletes from Russia (7:10 a.m.)
A loss in this contest would be seen as a massive upset. Everyone is expecting Canada to play the United States in the final. The Americans play Finland in the other semi-final Sunday night.
• Bobsleigh: Feb. 19, 6:15 a.m.
Two-Man – Run 3 of 4 (6:15 a.m.)
Two-Man – Run 4 of 4 (8:00 a.m.)
The last two runs in qualification in Bobsleigh start at 6:15 a.m. Monday morning. Canada’s largest-ever Bobsleigh team is well-represented in the two-man competition. After two runs, pilot Justin Kripps is in second just 0.10 seconds behind Nico Walther of Germany who had a time of 1:38.39. Also qualifying for the final from Canada are pilots Christopher Spring and Nick Poloniato, who tied for 10th, 0.57 seconds off the pace. Kripps and Spring adopted the sport of golf in the lead up as a training exercise to help improve concentration levels and mental toughness. Canadian Pierre Lueders is coaching the South Korean team after coaching Russia to two medals in Sochi.
Sportsnet dispatches from Korea:
• Kristina Rutherford describes how Team Homan came up with crucial, tension-filled victory over Switzerland.
• The Interview with Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir will get you in the mood to watch Olympic figure skating. Rutherford will be covering the skate program throughout the Games and she’s quite hilarious so give her a follow on Twitter for updates from Korea.
• Rutherford also has a Big Read on Kaetlyn Osmond’s figure-skating career now that the Canadian star is a threat to win individual Olympic gold in Pyeongchang.
• Shi Davidi explained how harnessing short-track chaos propelled Samuel Girard to Olympic gold.
• Davidi is also covering the hockey action and states Canada must improve finishing to boost medal hopes.
• This is the first Canadian Olympic team without NHL players since the 1994 group won silver in Lillehammer. For more on how the men’s hockey team came together, check out this Big Read from Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Redefining Team Canada.
• And of course, follow Davidi (@shidavidi), who will be covering the men’s tournament. He wrote this oral history on the 1994 men’s Olympic hockey tournament.
Proud to be Canadian
Team Korea gave the Canadians a scare in ice hockey. The Republic of Korea battled valiantly and frustrated Team Canada, who was the least penalized team in the tournament coming in, but lacked discipline throughout. The Korean side has seven North Americans with six Canadians and one American. The best player on the ice for either team was Korean netminder Matt Dalton from Seaforth, Ont. He faced 50 shots and was outstanding. The Canadians playing for South Korea have become a big story and, not surprisingly, have been Korea’s best players.
The Canadians on the Korean team play in domestic pro leagues and jumped at the chance to play in the Olympics for the host nation. Even head coach Jim Paek is Korean-born but was raised in Canada. It’s the first time South Korea has ever fielded a hockey team at the Winter Olympics. Hopefully, off of the strength of the Canadian players, they can help grow the game in the Far East and inspire a new generation of hockey players. Even though they weren’t wearing red and white, Canadians can be proud of the way the Canadian-born players represented themselves with Korea throughout the tournament.
Elsewhere on the web:
• For Olympic glory, athletes need talent and a billionaire backer. Devon Pendleton of Bloomberg writes about how it takes blood, sweat, and lots and lots of dollars to claim a spot on the podium.
• Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy talks to CBS News about coming out and his new role as a symbol for LGBTQ rights.
• In less positive Olympic related news the Orange County Register investigation finds 100s of USA swimmers were sexually abused for decades and the people in charge knew and ignored it.