54 Canadian athletes (counting five guides for skiing athletes with visual impairments) will be taking part in these Games, led by chef de mission Ozzie Sawicki and flagbearer Sonja Gaudet. As with the Olympics, there are high expectations for Canada's Paralympic athletes, and Canadians will be watching: there will be more Canadian coverage of these Games via CBC, Sportsnet, Yahoo and other outlets than ever before (a broadcast schedule is available here). Sawicki, who was the head coach of the Canadian para-alpine skiing team from 2000-2004 and has since worked with Canadian para-athletics and para-equestrian organizations, has plenty of experience at the Paralympics, as he's been involved in four previous Games, including leading the para-alpine skiing team to 12 of Canada's 15 medals at the 2002 Games. Thus, it's interesting that he speaks so highly of this version of the Canadian team:
The 2014 Paralympics start in Sochi, Russia on Friday, and Canada will have a significant presence there.
“It is fantastic to head to Sochi as the Chef de Mission of one of the strongest Canadian Paralympic Teams at any Paralympic Games in our winter history,” said Sawicki. “After spending much of the lead up to the Games meeting with the sports in their training and competition settings, I know that our entire Canadian contingent is ready to take on the challenge to once again place in the top three nations in the gold medal count, as we did in Vancouver at our home Games in 2010.”
54 athletes will represent Canada at the 2014 Paralympics.
How well is Canada realistically expected to do? Well, that top-three goal won't be easy. Canada has competed in 10 Winter Paralympic Games and has only finished in the top three countries in total medal count once, thanks to a third-place finish (in both total medals and golds) four years ago on home turf in Vancouver. 2010 saw Canada pick up 10 gold and 19 total medals, though, both Canadian records for a Winter Paralympics, and that might not have been just thanks to home-field advantage. The longer-term trend at the Winter Paralympics is positive for Canada, as both Salt Lake City and Turin resulted in sixth-place finishes overall by number of golds won, a significant step up from 15th in Nagano in 1998 and 14th in Lillehammer in 1994. (Interestingly enough on the total-medal front, Canada won 15 medals in both 1998 and 2002, but the number of available medals dropped from 367 to 276, making that latter performance much more valuable. The Vancouver totals are even more impressive when you consider that only 192 medals were awarded there. The Paralympics seems to have undergone the opposite trend of the Olympics' medal inflation.)Read More »from Can Canada follow Olympic success with Paralympic success?