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PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2014 8:19 am
 


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It’s one those moments in Canada’s sporting history that few will ever forget.

The Calgary Games, in 1988, the first Winter Olympics in this country, and the hosts were shut out on the gold medal count, yet again.

There had been some serious hopefuls, too, with none better than figure skater Brian Orser, who narrowly lost out to American star Brian Boitano in the Battle of the Brians and had to settle for silver. Canada ultimately finished 13th in the medal standings that year – with two silver medals and three bronze – in one of the weaker performances by a host country.

Canada has had a sharp uphill rise from there, however, with a ninth place finish in Albertville followed by seventh in Lillehammer, and top five finishes in all of Nagano, Salt Lake City and Turin. Vancouver four years ago then set a new high, as Canada topped the standings entirely, becoming the first host nation to do so since Norway 58 years earlier.

There are a lot of different reasons that shift happened, with some of the credit rightly going to programs like Own The Podium that boosted funding to athletes and helped make Canada more competitive.

But the biggest shift in Canada’s favour the last 20 years has actually been to the Games themselves, which have evolved dramatically in a bid by the IOC for better TV ratings and higher revenues.

The Calgary Games were actually a pivotal moment on that front, too. That year, there were 46 events spread across 10 different disciplines, with the newest of those being the luge, which had joined the Olympic roster way back in 1964.

Amidst a familiar calendar built around the majority of medals going to alpine and cross country skiers (nearly 40 per cent) and speed skaters (22 per cent) were three demonstration sports that would in future years become permanent additions: curling, freestyle skiing and short-track speed skating.

In a sign of things to come, Canada was remarkably dominant in the three new categories, winning 14 medals (including three gold) in just 18 events.

Those didn’t count in the final standings that year, but they were successful enough that, four years later, freestyle and short track became regular Olympic events. Six years after that in Nagano, curling and snowboarding became the 13th and 14th disciplines, followed by skeleton joining as the final newcomer in 2002.

How important these five new entries have been to Canada’s medal hopes has been on display in Sochi so far in these Games, with eight of the 10 medals won in those sports.

Overall, since the Winter Olympics started this expansion process in 1992, Canada has won nearly 20 per cent of all the available medals (and more than 50 per cent of all its medals) in those five disciplines.

By comparison, Canadians have won just 5 per cent of the medals in the 10 older disciplines in that span, even if you include those in traditional strongholds like figure skating and hockey.

It’s not hard to see why. Nearly a century after appearing in the first Winter Olympics in 1924, Canada has still yet to win a medal in luge, Nordic combined and ski jumping, which are all dominated by European countries like Germany, Norway, Austria and Finland.

Canada also has won only 12 of the more than 700 medals ever given out in bobsleigh, biathlon and cross country and a paltry 10 of the roughly 400 in alpine events.

The addition of women’s hockey has added one guaranteed medal in a more established sport, and there have been some inroads elsewhere, including in long-track speed skating, which is tied with cross country as the most medal-heavy sport in Sochi.

Had the Games not changed beginning in Calgary, however, it’s safe to say Canada wouldn’t be riding nearly this high.

Own The Podium may get the credit, but this country’s rise in the medal count is tied right back to that push to modernize and better monetize the Olympics, something that started in 1988 with a trio of demonstration sports that were immensely popular with fans and quietly dominated by the home side.

Imagine that.


http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/o ... e16847251/


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2014 8:41 am
 


Good ananlysis, as long as one doesn't dwell on the idea that the 'new' sports are faintly inferior to the 'old' ones. The athletes have to train just as hard and many of the new sports are exciting to watch.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2014 8:47 am
 


meh. I've got no use for judged sports. I miss the days when men's downhill was the premier event of the olympics. Guess Canadians aren't skiers as much as shredders. Too bad.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2014 9:49 am
 


Genetics + Opportunity = Medals


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2014 6:03 pm
 


Isn't it a amazing what a support program like "Own the Podium" can accomplish which is something this country never had before.

But as an aside, it's nice to see the Conservative Gov't is finally supporting the people who they consider important for Canada like they promised they would.

(sarcasm off)


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 9:56 am
 


A lot of our medals this have come from extreme skiing and boarding sports that all have a modern, North American origin. They are VERY athletic, dangerous and spectacular to watch. The old Nordic and Alpine events from Europe are still dominated by the Swiss, Germans, Austrians, Norwegians but these new, extreme versions of skiing are from here in N.A. and are practised by "the people" on the ski hills, here rather than some elite. Short track skating is also very North American.

This is a healthy trend ... new versions of old sports from somewhere else other than the Alps, Scandinavia or the (once-frozen) canals of Holland.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 10:31 am
 


Jabberwalker wrote:
A lot of our medals this have come from extreme skiing and boarding sports that all have a modern, North American origin. They are VERY athletic, dangerous and spectacular to watch. The old Nordic and Alpine events from Europe are still dominated by the Swiss, Germans, Austrians, Norwegians but these new, extreme versions of skiing are from here in N.A. and are practised by "the people" on the ski hills, here rather than some elite. Short track skating is also very North American.

This is a healthy trend ... new versions of old sports from somewhere else other than the Alps, Scandinavia or the (once-frozen) canals of Holland.


Good point about the Nordic and Alpine events once being dominated by the 'elite' and how the addition of these new and very exciting to watch, extreme sports have opened the door to any kid with a snowboard, the talent to get to the Olympics - and a helping hand from Own the Podium. Where once the results were almost a given even before the competition, we now are treated to relative unknowns on the world stage rising to the top.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 10:56 am
 


... and the "Old World" monopoly that goes right back to the beginning of the winter games is broken.


extreme sports have opened the door to any kid with a snowboard,

I took my kids downhill skiing yesterday and my 11 year old son is all proud of himself that he is getting the knack of skiing backwards. THAT sort of thing is almost a signature of us innovative North Americans but it would make a German or Swiss ski instructor apoplectic.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 11:40 am
 


Why are Canadians winning medals?..... Silly question, they're Canadians after all.... :roll: .......... :rock:


Its so nice to see what our athletes can do when they're on a level playing field as the other countries with funding, support and home venues to work on their craft.





PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 2:28 pm
 


Thank you Calgary [B-o]


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 2:53 pm
 


jj2424 wrote:
Thank you Calgary [B-o]


Agreed. The Olympics training centre and programs that were founded as part of the Calgary '88 legacy have been paying major dividends as far as the sports are concerned for the last 25 years. If the Vancouver '10 legacy is paired up with what was built in Calgary then Canada could end up becoming the dominant force in the winter games for decades to come. [B-o]


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:17 pm
 


Yeah, maybe but take a look at where the Canadian medals are being won. They are not coming from the "traditional" winter Olympics events that the Calgary facilities are set up for (except for freestyle skiing but that can be done virtually everywhere in Canada that has 300+ elevation). We are not winning medals in sliding of any kind, jumping, speed skating (except for short track that is done all over Quebec) or the Alpine events. This is not to say that the Calgary and Vancouver facilities are not wonderful to have ... they clearly are ... but they are not translating into medals. Canada produced more and better jumpers at Big Thunder than in Calgary.





PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:28 pm
 


Jabberwalker wrote:
Yeah, maybe but take a look at where the Canadian medals are being won. They are not coming from the "traditional" winter Olympics events that the Calgary facilities are set up for (except for freestyle skiing but that can be done virtually everywhere in Canada that has 300+ elevation). We are not winning medals in sliding of any kind, jumping, speed skating (except for short track that is done all over Quebec) or the Alpine events. This is not to say that the Calgary and Vancouver facilities are not wonderful to have ... they clearly are ... but they are not translating into medals. Canada produced more and better jumpers at Big Thunder than in Calgary.



Not true....Canada has won a shit pile of long track medals since 1988. The Olympic Oval is home to all those winners. The only disappointment is in sliding, we need to learn how to cheat just like the Russians..more Co2 comrade.!


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:59 pm
 


Look at our current Olympics. ... no sliding, no long track racing ... not much alpine ... weak in Nordic events ... but those are someone else's sports for the most part. This is not Bavaria. We are strong in the sports that we all do ... curling, hockey, short track skating, "unencumbered" boarding and skiing.

Now and again a cluster of winners occur such as our long track racers of a few Olympics ago or the "Crazy Canucks" that I remember from my university days. I wonder if it is the critical mass of a cluster of quality competitors coming along that the same time that generated the action, not the availability of facilities in Canada. Our Bob sledders used to train at Lake Placid, which is closer to Montreal than Whistler is to Vancouver. I'm glad that we have these facilities but it would seem that you can't buy medals with bricks and mortar. It might just be that little clubs scattered across the country is the growth medium that we nee.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 7:36 pm
 


Jabberwalker wrote:
Look at our current Olympics. ... no sliding, no long track racing ... not much alpine ... weak in Nordic events ... but those are someone else's sports for the most part. This is not Bavaria. We are strong in the sports that we all do ... curling, hockey, short track skating, "unencumbered" boarding and skiing.

Now and again a cluster of winners occur such as our long track racers of a few Olympics ago or the "Crazy Canucks" that I remember from my university days. I wonder if it is the critical mass of a cluster of quality competitors coming along that the same time that generated the action, not the availability of facilities in Canada. Our Bob sledders used to train at Lake Placid, which is closer to Montreal than Whistler is to Vancouver. I'm glad that we have these facilities but it would seem that you can't buy medals with bricks and mortar. It might just be that little clubs scattered across the country is the growth medium that we nee.


Without a doubt, it is in the communities large and small where an athletes support begins. CBC is running a series of mini-docs filmed in a variety of our Olympians hometowns. We get to meet the parents, school teachers, former coaches and small businesses that helped them on their way. All of the Olympians give back to their community by holding clinics in their sport and helping other athletes. Wonderful background stories on our guys and gals.

Once an athlete reaches a certain stage in his/her career they need more support than a community can provide in terms of fulfilling financial obligations. This is where Own the Podium and corporate sponsorship really can make a difference in an athlete's ability to compete on ever higher levels.

We've had triumphs and disasters and moments of real heartbreak during these Olympics but win or lose I am so very proud of each and everyone of our Canadian Olympians. :rock:


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