Short track’s speed skating virtuoso Charles Hamelin began his quest for what some believe could end with four Olympic medals, advancing to the final in speed skating’s 1,500-metres.
The defending Olympic champion in the 500-metres, Hamelin did not disappoint, skating to an exhilarating victory over seven other competitors to earn Canada it’s second gold in Sochi.
Hameln, decked out in lime green racing goggles, raised both his arms above his head in celebration as he crossed the finish line in front.
The Ste-Julie, Que., native, then sought out Marianne St-Gelais, his girlfriend and fellow Canadian short-track competitor, for a celebratory hug and kiss in the stands.
Hamelin is also pegged as the man to beat in the 500 and 1,000-metre events and he will also participate in the 5,000-metre relay event where Canada will try to defend it’s Olympic gold.
After a big start on Saturday highlighted by the one-two finish of sisters Justine (gold) and Chloe (silver) Dufour-Lapointe in the women’s moguls, it was a relatively quiet day for Canada at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Bolstered by a solid performance in the men’s free program by Vancouver’s Kevin Reynolds Canada did win a medal, a silver in the new team figure skating event.
But that was it.
It was the host Russians who thwarted Canada’s hopes on the ice, performing in front of the stern presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin who looked on as his country clinched its first gold medal of the 2014 Olympics.
Russia’s triumph was forged by an old hand in Evgeny Plushenko, 31, along with Yulia Lipnitskaya, a 15-year-old skating sensation who served notice she will be a world force in the sport for years to come.
It was hoped that Canada would be able to breakthrough in the women’s slopestyle, another new Olympic snowboarding event.
Canada’s best contender in the competition, Spencer O’Brien of Courtenay, B.C., finished well back in 12th.
Afterwards, fighting back tears, O’Brien fell on her sword, claiming that she felt that she had let Canada down by the result.
O’Brien slipped slightly on the final jump in the finals and it was enough to set her back.
The gold medal was claimed by Jamie Anderson, a “new-age, yoga-loving, mantra-chanting” competitor from California.
Canada’s other solid medal contender was Erik Guay in the men’s downhill.
Canada’s most decorated World Cup alpine skier, Guay was able to shrug off the affects of a knee injury earlier this season to finish in 10th place.
The gold medal was taken by Austrian skier Matthias Mayer, whose coach candidly said that the 23-year-old competitor always does something stupid in almost every race.
American favorite Bode Miller, bidding for his sixth Olympic medal, was the clear medal favourite heading in after winning two of the practice runs.
After a strong start, Miller faded in the later stages of the race and finished a disappointing eighth and later blasted a “treacherous” Olympic course for his poor showing.
Not everybody is enamoured by the billions that the Russians have spent to bring the world to Sochi.
While Sochi got the gold, the nearby village of Kazachy Brod got little more than dust, overlooked by the sporting extravaganza that is unfolding across a newly-constructed highway that residents have no access to.
And it is hard to miss the Russian security forces that are omnipresent everywhere at Sochi, some 40,000 of them outfitted in purple outfits that make them look like Barney, only heavily armed.
Today’s Sochi’s Guide
If you got up early enough you could have seen the Canadian foursome, skipped by Brad Jacobs of Sault. Ste Marie, Ont., outlast Germany 11-8 in their opening contest in the men’s curling competition.
Canada’s women’s team, skipped by Jennifer Jones, made quick work of China 9-2.
The women’s luge event will begin with Canada’s Alex Gough hoping to make a breakthrough at the Sanki Sliding Centre.
Mikael Kingsbury, a resident of Deux-Montagnes, Que., is the favorite to win gold in the men’s moguls, which begins at 1 p.m. EST with the first of three runs. Montreal’s Alexandre Bilodeau, the defending Olympic champion, is also right there nipping at Kingsbury’s heels.
Women’s hockey is also on tap with Canada taking on Finland in their second game of the Olympics, beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern.
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