The Pressure Barometer: Canadian Olympians facing the heat in Sochi

Legends are defined by what they do when it matters most. The ability to rise to the occasion when the entire world is watching has catapulted athletes like Alexandre Bilodeau and Clara Hughes into iconic status. This year in Sochi, the stakes are at an all-time high for these five Canadian Olympians:

Patrick Chan

Pressure scale: 10/10

The pressure on Patrick Chan is at a boiling point. The reigning three-time World Figure Skating Champion fell short of lofty expectations four years ago in Vancouver, but he was an inexperienced teenager. The 23-year-old landed in controversy in 2011 when he suggested he felt unappreciated by Canada and that figure skating deserved more respect back home. Chan will have our attention in Sochi though. No Canadian has ever won gold in men’s Olympic figure skating. At his best, Chan is the gold medal favourite. His primary competition comes in the form of 31-year-old Russian icon Evgeni Plushenko whose powerful performances helped his team win gold in the team event where Canada took silver.

Erik Guay

Pressure scale: 9/10

All that eludes Erik Guay is an Olympic medal. He’s had a tremendous career on the slopes, highlighted by his Canadian record 21 World Cup medals in men’s alpine skiing, two of which came earlier this season, and World Championship victory. Now 32, Guay is at the Winter Games for the third, and maybe final, time.

His trip got off to a very rough start with a 10th-place finish in men’s downhill on Sunday. Opportunity still lies in the super-G but Guay is an underdog. He finished 11th in super-G on the World Cup circuit and his best Olympic finish is fifth. Still, he's preparing for hopeful medal run:

No Canadian has won an Olympic medal in men’s alpine since 1994. The alpine competition is always tough. Austria’s Matthias Mayer, Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal, and America’s Bode Miller headline the field of skiers Guay will have to overcome if he is to step onto the podium in Sochi.

Dominique Maltais

Pressure scale: 8/10

Dominique Maltais is looking for redemption in Sochi, her third trip to the Olympics. Four years ago, Maltais walked out of Vancouver bruised and battered from falls in both of her qualifying heats. She took home bronze at Torino 2006, but an early fall in the medal race prevented her from doing better. Between Maltais and Maelle Ricker, Canada boasts two of the top ladies in snowboard cross. In what might be her final Olympics, the 33-year-old Maltais would love to match the gold medal won by Ricker back in Vancouver 2010.

Jesse Lumsden

Pressure scale: 7/10

Jesse Lumsden is still searching for a defining moment in his athletic career. Injuries derailed his CFL career, and unrealistic expectations for Vancouver made his Olympic debut a disappointment in bobsled. This time he has Olympic experience, World Cup success, and star power working for him. Canada is waiting for Jesse Lumsden’s star to shine, and the Sochi Olympics will be his big opportunity.

Charles Hamelin

Pressure scale: 6/10

“When you touch that first step of the podium, you like it and you want to do it again.” At 29 years of age, Charles Hamelin got the chance to do just that. Hamelin entered Sochi four medals shy of breaking the Canadian Winter Olympic medal record and he’s already won the first with a gold medal in the 1500m on Monday. Hamelin is the defending Olympic champion in two of the three remaining distances. Assuming he medals in the 500m and the team relay, Hamelin’s record hopes will come down to the 1000m event where he finished fourth in Vancouver in the memorable final that left announcer Rod Black and an entire arena in utter disbelief. This could be Hamelin’s last Olympic Games, and with history awaiting him, Canada’s king of the track has a chance to build his royal throne.