The 2014 Winter Paralympics officially kick off Friday with the Opening Ceremony in Sochi, Russia, and the Canadian Para-Nordic team is raring to be one of the most dominant teams at the Games, shooting for third in the overall medal count.
For Canada, the 30-kilometer freestyle mass start was less about results and more about the emergence of a unified women’s team, which finished within places of one another and stuck together even after the race. While one is continuing on the World Cup, national-team veterans Dasha Gaiazova and Chandra Crawford will not be racing this weekend in Lahti, Finland.
When Alex Harvey tripped over a pole broken by U.S. skier Noah Hoffman, it summed up the whole Olympics for the Canadian team: if one piece was there, the rest was unlucky. Harvey, Ivan Babikov, and Graeme Killick finished 19th, 20th, and 28th, while Jesse Cockney was “just thrilled to have the start.”
After ending last season early and then leaving the national team this year, Chandra Crawford has had a long journey in her quest to repeat her 2006 Olympic gold medal in the freestyle sprint. It ended after qualification today, when Crawford placed 44th. “That is so disappointing,” she said. “But I’m happy with the effort.”
For most, the Olympic experience goes much deeper than results, and that couldn’t have been more true for several North Americans competing at the highest stage of their sport for the first time on Saturday. U.S. cross-country skier Jessie Diggins emerged in eighth and Canadian biathlete Nathan Smith tallied 13th to highlight the day.
With the Winter Olympics set to kick off in earnest with the Opening Ceremony on Friday night, the Canadian National Cross-Country Team is ready to go in the mountain village of Krasnaya Polyana, where it’s been training for the last few days. This is the story of how their team grew by two just a few weeks before the Olympics, shortly after the official nomination.
En Sochi, Alex Harvey parle de Québec et le niveau des athlètes seniors et juniors, fondeurs et biathlètes, de son province. Il est fier des résultats Québecois aux championnats mondiales juniors, et il a de grands éspoirs pour l’avenir. / In another bilingual piece, Alex Harvey talks about Quebec and the level of athletes, junior and senior, skier and biathlete, in his province.
Four racers proved they deserve a spot on Canada’s Olympic team this weekend in the freestyle sprints and 15/30 k skiathlons. Heidi Widmer (AWCA/NST) and Jesse Cockney (AWCANST) took home top honors in the freestyle sprint, while Graeme Killick (AWCA/NST) and Amanda Ammar (Team Ninja) won the skiathlon.