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sochi 2014

A gold medal manufactured for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in SochSERGEI KARPUKHIN/Reuters

With speed-skating maestro Charles Hamelin leading the way, Canada's athletes are being touted as one of the top medal winners at the 2014 Winter Olympics, which heads into the first full day of competition in Sochi on Saturday.

Sports Illustrated, the respected U.S.-based weekly sports magazine, has just published its predictions of who will win what over the next couple weeks in Sochi and it foresees Canada walking away with 31 medals overall, including 12 gold.

Should that materialize, Canada would easily surpass the 26 medals it picked up at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the highest medal count the country has ever managed at the event.

Sports Illustrated is not alone in believing that Canada should do well in Sochi.

Infostrada, an international sports data group based in The Netherlands, has recently updated its medal predictions for nations competing at the Winter Olympics and suggests that Canada will win 33 medals, including 11 gold.

According to Sports Illustrated, Canada's tally of 31 medals, which will also include eight silver and 11 bronze medals, will place it third in the overall medal standing, behind the United States (34) and Norway (35).

The magazine predicts that Hamelin, a resident of Sainte-Julie, Que., will lead Canada's medal haul with a total of four in short track, including gold medals in the men's 1,000 and 1,500-metre events as well as the 5,000-metre team relay event.

Hamelin's fourth medal, according to Sports Illustrated, will be a silver in the 500-metres.

Hamelin was Canada's only multiple gold medalist in Vancouver four years ago, winning the 500 and then helping Canada's 5,000-metre relay team reach the top of the podium.

Infostrada is also projecting that Hamelin will do well in Sochi, with a gold medal in the men's 1,000-metres and in the 5,000-metre relay to go along with a silver in the 500 and a bronze in the 1,500.

Hamelin's Olympic medal odyssey will begin on Monday when the final of the 1,500-metres will be skated.

Canada's medal haul in Vancouver was impressive, capped by 14 gold's, the highest total of any of the competing nations.

This time around, Sports Illustrated is projecting that Canada's gold medal take of 12 in Sochi will rank the country third behind Norway and the U.S., which the magazine suggests will each earn 13 gold medals.

Sports Illustrated is also projecting Canadian gold medals in snowboarding for Mark McMorris in men's slopestyle and Maelle Ricker in women's cross; in freestyle skiing for Mikael Kingsbury in the men's moguls, Dara Howell in the women's slopestyle, David Duncan in the men's ski cross and Marielle Thompson in the women's ski cross; in figure skating in the team event; in the women's bobsleigh for Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse; and in men's curling.

It is interesting to note that Sports Illustrated believes that Canada's men's hockey team will skate off with a bronze medal while Infostrada is predicting that Canada will do no better than a 7th-place finish competing on the larger international ice surface.

Infostrada's methodology takes into account performance in world championship since the 2010 Winter Games up to the present day.

Sports Illustrated believes that Sweden will walk off with the gold in men's hockey with the host Russian team taking silver. Infostrda lists Sweden as the gold medal favourite with Russia taking silver and Finland the bronze.

Both Sports Illustraded and Infostrada list Canada's women's team as winners of the silver medal in women's hockey, behind the United States.

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