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  • Elvis Stojko and Kurt Browning, the quad-triple maestros, back in 1994 (CP archives)

    As Canada crosses its collective fingers (and toes) in the hopes that the polished Patrick Chan can pull off a gold medal in men's figure skating tonight in Sochi, it's the perfect time to go back in time and remember when these two dudes ruled.

    Time has been kind to Kurt Browning and Elvis Stojko (other than Browning's hairline, which was a foregone conclusion decades ago). They look like they could hop right back onto the ice right now.

    Stojko looks even better than he did back in 1994, when the narrative was all about his kung fu and martial arts obsessions, as the figure-skating world tried to explain why he was a little weak in the expressive-arm, artistic impression area, but that this was still okay. He's still at his figure-skating fighting weight.

    Read More »from Kurt Browning and Elvis Stojko: 20 years on, still in fine form
  • Canada luge coach Wolfgang Staudinger (CP)Strings being pulled to benefit Russia at the Olympics? That's never happened, except for that one time, that other time and all the other times.

    Canada being allegedly done out of a bronze medal in the luge team relay on Thursday likely isn't as media-friendly as Skategate a dozen years ago in Salt Lake City. A brief refresher: corrupt judging briefly denied Jamie Salé and David Pelletier the pairs gold; eventually the IOC took a half-measure by awarding the Canadian pair a second gold but letting Russia keep its ill-gotten gold. Nevertheless, Canada coach Wolfgang Staudinger, noting the luge team was in, "silver at the top but the further we went down the slower we got and that’s a clear sign that the track slowed down dramatically," is saying the luge track was warmed at specific times, specifically to benefit Russia. Part of his case is a belief that Russia tanked a World Cup race in order to stay out of the group that went down the track at the end of the event.

    From Kerry Gillespie:

    Part of why Staudinger thinks the Russians were determined to give their team an advantage is what happened just before the Olympics.

    The Russians made sure they were out of the top-five seeded group — which drew for their starts at the end — by withdrawing [Albert] Demchenko [who performed to men's singles leg of the relay] from the final World Cup race of the season.

    “For me, that was already a red flag,” Staudinger said.

    That dropped them in the rankings so the Russians became the last unseeded team here.

    They slid seventh while the top five ranked teams, including Canada, drew for the final places.

    Canada drew a particularly bad start, winding up 11th of 12 sleds.

    The German team, which went down right before the Canadians, managed to set a track record.

    But that doesn’t change Staudinger’s view that the track slowed down.

    “The Germans are so strong they can overcome a handicap like this,” he said, noting that they won by a second, when one and a half seconds over the field is more normal for them.

    “I’m not looking for an excuse, I’m just looking at facts,” he said. (Toronto Star)

    Read More »from Canada says Russia tampered with luge track to boost medal chances
  • Team Jacobs’ efficiency, swagger return in big win over Norway

    Brad Jacobs barking instructions (CP via Robert Bukaty)Our Canadian men's curling team won its third consecutive game 10-4 against Thomas Ulsrud of Norway to improve its record to 4-2 and now back in a playoff position after two disappointing early losses to Switzerland and Sweden.

    That's the good news. The better news is that Team Brad Jacobs appears to be back. So far in the Olympics, the team that methodically worked through the Brier and Roar of the Rings in 2013 with the precision of third Ryan Fry and the power of skipper Jacobs just wasn't there. Jacobs' angles were slightly off and the team that didn't seem to miss an opportunity for a double takeout in the calendar year kept getting into trouble, and had yet to pull off a big win until the game against Norway.

    [Related: Are Norway's wacky curling pants illegal?]

    After he broke the tie game 3 in the 7th, however, you got the sense Jacobs was back. Jacobs made a clutch double takeout with his final stone of the end secured a four-ender for the Sault Ste. Marie rink, sweepers Ryan and E.J. Harnden let out their familiar battle cry that had been absent so far these games, while Jacobs followed suit with his trademark emphatic fist pump.

    Read More »from Team Jacobs’ efficiency, swagger return in big win over Norway
  • (Getty Images)Rogers Media has chosen a familiar face to oversee the broadcast end of its $5.2 billion investment in the National Hockey League.

    The telecommunications giant announced Thursday that Gord Cutler is its senior vice-president of production for NHL games when the new contract kicks in later this year.

    Cutler has a long relationship with Rogers Media head Scott Moore, going back to the launch of Sportsnet in 1998.

    "He is one of Canada’s top sports producers, possesses incredible hockey knowledge, and understands the hockey fan,” said Moore, president of Sportsnet and NHL for Rogers. “Gord’s extensive production resume, which includes the NHL playoffs and several Olympic Games, combined with his tremendous passion for the game, will be integral to delivering on our stars-first production philosophy.”

    The appointment makes Cutler responsible for basically all aspects of Rogers massive NHL package. He will oversee all on-air production on all platforms for all games, both national and

    Read More »from Gord Cutler named to run Rogers all-encompassing hockey productions
  • Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu and an unidentified team official enjoying his world domination. (CP)

    Well, Day 7 at Sochi falls on Valentine's Day.

    If I could ask you for one thing - just one thing - it would be that we all try and fall in love, again, with ski ballet. Read my column on the greatest winter sport ever invented and I am sure you'll rekindle the affair that had us all in rapture at both the '88 and '92 Olympics. There's video in there and everything. Oh, and as a bonus, I embedded some video of freestyle canoe, also known as canoe dancing. A guy emotively paddling to Chris DeBurgh's "Lady in Red"? Come on. You gotta click on that.

    So, Jennifer Jones is blasting every women's curling team in her sight so far. She's skipped her team to a 5 and oh record and is sizzling. When you're playing like that you just want to keep it going. You don't want any interruptions. Keep it flowing. So, let's see who she plays on Day 7.... NOOOOOOOO!!! Don't give her a complete day off!! Damn you, IOC! DAMN YOU TO HELL! Big men's curling event on, however. That sees Canada's Brad Jacobs

    Read More »from Sochi 2014: What to watch, Day 7 (February 14)
  • Nodar Kumaritashvili, Georgian luge, luge death, Vancouver Olympics, VANOC, Luge FederationNodar Kumaritashvili (AP Photo, Elise Amendola, File)

    Four years ago, tragedy struck the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, putting a dark cloud over what turned out to be an historic celebration of sport for Canada and the world.

    It was on Feb. 12, 2010, that Georgian luger Nodar David Kumaritashvili, 21, suffered a fatal crash during a training run for the competition in Whistler. The accident happened on the day of the opening ceremony, as Kumaritashvili became the fourth athlete to have died during training for the Winter Olympics.

    Most Canadians – and likely many from around the world watching – will remember when Kumaritashvili, who first began to luge when he was 13, lost control and crashed. The horror of the incident extended beyond the tragedy itself – society reared its ugly head as the gruesome video immediately went viral through YouTube, creating a headache for organizers and those associated with both the sledding sports and the Vancouver Games.

    One person trackside for the horrific crash in person was Todd Devlin, a

    Read More »from Remembering Kumaritashvili: Former VANOC staffer recalls experience trackside
  • Canada's Patrick Chan is happy. And he should be. He's within reach of the gold after the men's short program. (AP/Ivan Sekretarev)

    So much of the gravitas and glamour in the men's figure-skating event vanished before the second of five flights in the short program had even begun, when Russian legend Evgeni Plushenko made a brief appearance on the ice, pulled out of the men's event, and promptly retired from the sport.

    But there are still medals at stake, and plenty of skaters who both want and deserve them.

    And by the time all 30 aspirants got through the short program, Canada's Patrick Chan was, as expected, one of them.

    Chan earned 97.52 points for a less-than-perfect program with a stumble on the triple axel, and sits in second place. Leader Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan became the first skater ever to break 100 in the short program, with a well-deserved 101.52.

    The reactions of Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu and coach say it all. He's the first skater to break 100 in the men's short program, and leads. (CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)

    The rest of the Canadian story isn't quite as pretty. No. 2 Kevin Reynolds had problems with two of his jump elements and sits 17th. And 21-year-old Vancouver native Liam Firus, who skated first out of all them, had a rough skate; only one poor Australian (and Plushenko), finished behind him.

    Read More »from Usually the hunted, Canada’s Patrick Chan will hunt from 2nd after men’s short program
  • Some of the best Canadian stories at the Sochi Olympics haven't been about those who won medals, but rather those who didn't, including cross-country coach Justin Wadsworth helping a Russian skier, Larisa Yurkiw completing her self-funded journey to the Games by skiing well on a sprained ankle and long-track speedskater Gilmore Junio stepping aside for teammate Denny Morrison (who went on to win silver) in the 1000-metre event. That latter heartfelt gesture from Junio has given his profile a massive boost, and his sacrifice hasn't gone unnoticed. In fact, plenty of people have been campaigning on Twitter for him to carry the Canadian flag at the closing ceremonies. (It probably doesn't hurt that Junio has the amazing Twitter handle of @cdnhappygilmore). Here are some of the best #GilForFlagBearer tweets, including one from Morrison himself:

    [Related: Shani Davis looking to rebound in 1500m event]

    Read More »from Gilmore Junio’s selfless act to give up his spot has resulted in a #GilForFlagBearer campaign
  • Canada's John Tavares had a strong first day of competition (AP:Mark Humphrey)

    The main difference between hockey and curling is that it would be a dream start for Canada in their game against Norway they were able to blank the first, score two in the second and hold Norway to just one in the third.

    This being a sport different from curling, there was some nervous rustling in barstools and couch cushions nationwide. While Canadians got to watch other medal favourites Finland and the United States roll over their lower-level opponents in their opening games, Canada beat Norway, decidedly not a medal favourite, by a much more modest scoreline, 3-1.

    But as always, the score in a single game is always somewhat deceiving. The Canadians held a large edge in play, with almost the entire game played inside the Norwegian end of the ice. The only time the camera operator had to move the centre ice camera was between periods, and the only man in the rink with less work to do than the camera operator was Canadian goaltender Carey Price, who faced just 10 shots through the first two periods and 19 total.

    Still, if there's a worry for Canadian hockey fans, it should be the team's lack of finish, though they certainly weren't hurting for scoring chances. By my count, the Canadians out-chanced Norway 21-2 at even strength during the game, and 23-4 overall with both teams earning a couple of chances during their brief time with the man advantage.

    Read More »from Despite 3-1 scoreline, Team Canada held decisive scoring chances edge over Norway
  • Christine Nesbitt was in silver medal position in the women's 500 before finishing 9th (Adrian Wyld, CP)

    The era when a medal tided Canada over for a few days at the Winter Olympics is long past; now a day without a medal constitutes a drought.

    A sneaking suspicion is that hockey — Sweden-Russia women's game, correct? — was probably a preoccupation for much of the country's sports likers. Meantime, Day 6 (or Day February 13, to use a Don Landry-ism) marked the first time at these Games that Canada did not pick up any medals. That did not happen until Day 8 AKA Day February 20 four years ago in Vancouver.

    Two anticipated short-track medals evaporated faster than an investment with Stratton Oakmont. Speed skater Christine Nesbitt's season of frustration continued with a ninth in the women's 1,000 on the slow oval at Adler Arena. Canada also finished a heartbreaking fourth in the inaugural team relay.

    "I died more than I've ever died in the 1,000," Nesbitt, who was initially in the silver medal position after clocking in at one minute 15.62 seconds but immediately told reporters that wouldn't hold up, told the CBC following her event. "I lost 2½ seconds between the first and second lap, that's uncustomary for me. It's been a really hard season."

    But is it harsh reality time for the Maple Leaf, a time for a reappraisal of the whole situation? Somewhat. With 10 days to go in the Games, Canada might need its athletes to catch some breaks to reach medal projections set forth by both the Associated Press and The Canadian Press wire services.

    Read More »from Canada’s first medal-less day at Sochi 2014: does that throw off projections?

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