Olympics Today: Canadians come marching in…with cellphones

Arash Madani welcomes you to Pyeongchang for the 2018 Olympics, where all is tranquil, with little scandal surrounding these games compared to many of the previous ones.

Beginning today and during each day of the Games, Olympics Today will keep you up to date on the biggest news and happenings, on and off the field of play.

Key Links:
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Strength in numbers (of veteran Olympians)

Flag bearers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who won ice-dancing gold in 2010 and silver in 2014, were far from the only recognizable faces in the Canadian crowd at the Olympic opening ceremony.

As I watched a large Canadian group offer bundled-up waves to the sparse crowd in attendance, I was struck by how experienced and deep this assembly of athletes is. The Canadian female Olympic hockey team is looking for a fifth straight gold medal and the men are chasing their third straight. Bobsleigh pilot Kaillie Humphries is likewise going for a third consecutive gold.

Charles Hamelin is a four-time Olympic medalist and could leave these Olympic Games the most decorated Olympian in Canadian history. Mikael Kingsbury is the most decorated moguls skier in history and won silver in 2014. Speed skater Denny Morrison is also a four-time Olympic medalist.

If Canada doesn’t surpass the 25 medals they came home with in 2014 it will be a bit of a disappointment.

Capturing golden moments
The other thing that jumped off the screen as the Canadians entered the opening ceremony is the fact that we’re a very mobile-friendly country. Compared to most other countries, the Canadians had a higher percentage of athletes filming the proceedings with their cellphones.

Although, thankfully, the Canadians didn’t have as may selfie sticks as some of the other nations, which is never a good look.

Team Korea’s re-introduction
Two members of the Korean women’s hockey team — one from South Korea and one from North Korea — were joint torch bearers to close the opening ceremony. It was a show of unity between the two nations, but the decision to merge into a single team will continue to be a controversial topic as we’ve already seen protests of North Korea’s participation at the Olympics.

The hope is blending the athletes from the Korean peninsula will ease tensions, but the two teams walked together in the opening ceremony in 2006 and we didn’t see much political change after that.

Flu games
One of the biggest early stories of the 2018 Games is a gastro-intestinal bug. More than 1,100 people have been tested as they look to contain the virus, which has already hit 60 people in the Olympic village and 12 police officers. The COC says the Canadian team is healthy so far. The health scare has had an impact on attendance as organizers have sold less than 80 per cent of tickets.

Prominent Canadians in action on Day 1:

Here is what’s on tap, events-wise for Canadian athletes (all times Eastern):

• Curling: Feb 9, 7:05 p.m. | Feb 10, 6:05 a.m.
Mixed Doubles’ Curling Round Robin – Switzerland vs. Canada (7:05 p.m.)
Mixed Doubles’ Curling Round Robin – Canada vs. Olympic Athlete from Russia (6:05 a.m.)

The duo of John Morris of Canmore, Alta., and Kaitlyn Lawes of Winnipeg will go head-to-head with the Swiss Friday night and then take on the athletes from Russia Saturday morning. The mixed-doubles event is making its debut at the Pyeongchang Olympic Games. Despite the sport being new, Morris and Lawes are Olympic veterans chasing their second gold medals. Morris previously won with Kevin Martin’s foursome in 2010, and Lawes was on Jennifer Jones’s championship team from 2014.

To get ready for curling, check out this Big Read on Rachel Homan by Kristina Rutherford.

• Snowboard: Feb 9, 8:00 p.m.
Men’s Slopestyle – Qualification (8:00 p.m.)

At his first Olympics in Sochi four years ago, Mark McMorris won a bronze medal in men’s snowboard slopestyle with a broken rib. Two years later, McMorris had to make a comeback from a broken femur. Last year he sustained a broken jaw, ruptured spleen and collapsed lung in yet another major accident. But the native of Regina has showed great toughness once again to make it back to the Winter Games and will compete in slopestyle qualifying along with Canadian Max Parrot. Parrot, the Bromont, Que., native, is a four-time Winter X Games champion who will be competing at his second Olympics after finishing fifth in slopestyle in Sochi.

Sportsnet dispatches from Korea:

• Kristina Rutherford explains why Patrick Chan remains positive and mentally strong after a tough start.

• Shi Dividi explains how the team speed of Canada’s men’s program is being emphasized as they begin practice in South Korea.

• For more on how the Men’s hockey team came together, check out this Big Read from Sportsnet’s Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Redefining Team Canada.

• And of course, follow Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi (@shidavidi), who will be covering the men’s tournament for sportsnet.ca. Shi wrote this oral history on the 1994 men’s Olympic hockey tournament, the last time the event did not feature NHLers:

Sportsnet Tonight
Mark McMorris one of Canada's great Olympic stories
February 08 2018

Proud to be Canadian

For the first time in Canadian history a woman and man carried the flag at the Olympics opening ceremony. Canada’s “it” ice-dancing pair, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, took turns holding up the maple leaf as they did a lap with beaming smiles.

It may only be a symbolic gesture, but it was an important one to have a man and a woman carrying the flag for Canada in an era where gender equity is such an important conversation.

Elsewhere on the web:

• Are these actual going to be the “Peace Olympics” as advertised or will it strengthen North Korea’s nuclear resolve? Here is a good read by Nathan Vanderklippe of the Globe and Mail on what the Olympics will mean for the Korean Peninsula.

• Here is an inside look at the 12,000-square-foot Canada House in Gangneung.

• Barriers are being broken at the 2018 Olympics. Maame Biney is the first African-American woman to make the U.S. speed skating team. Here is her story.

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