The Canadian Press predicts 37 medals for Canada
Bernard proved herself a clutch shotmaker at the Canadian Olympic curling trials in Edmonton and, having co-written a book that touches on the mental aspects of curling, she appears unlikely to fall victim to the pressure of the Games.
But even Bernard’s rink has conceded Bingyu Wang’s Chinese squad might be the team to beat.
The 25-year-old Wang steamrolled the competition on her way to the 2009 world championship, a year after she finished second at the event when it was held in Vernon, B.C. Predictions: Bronze Total medals: 1 (bronze) Figure skating Canada’s figure skating team is young, but boasts some impressive results, and could challenge for the podium in all four disciplines.
Ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir represent the team’s biggest medal threat — they’ve been the most consistent, capturing a pair of Grand Prix titles and adding a silver at the Grand Prix Final this season.
Patrick Chan is on the upswing from a frustrating early season that included a bad bout of the flu and calf injury. He’s been forced to play catch-up, but showed considerable signs of improvement at the Canadian championships.
Reigning world silver medallist Joannie Rochette had a disappointing Grand Prix season, but her solid performance at the Canadian championships was encouraging.
Canada has won a medal in figure skating in every Olympics since 1984. Predictions: Ice dance Silver - Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir Men’s singles Bronze - Patrick Chan Women’s singles Bronze - Joannie Rochette Total medals: 3 (1 silver, 2 bronze) Freestyle skiing Canada’s 18-member Olympic freestyle team is expected to make multiple trips to the podium in Vancouver.
The squad is led by Spruce Grove, Alta., native Jennifer Heil, who competes in women’s moguls on the first full day of competition. The defending champion is the top threat to win Canada’s first-ever Olympic gold medal as the host nation.
Having won her last four World Cup races, the gold is Heil’s to lose.
Alexandre Bilodeau of Rosemere, Que., should also threaten for a medal on the men’s side, after winning last year’s overall World Cup title and capturing three medals so far this season.
Ski cross represents Canada’s other potential medal haul.
Ashleigh McIvor, Kelsey Serwa and Julia Murray own three of the top four spots in the women’s overall standings, and could strike more than once at Cypress Mountain. Canadians finished 1-2 there last year, and a podium sweep this time around isn’t out of the question — though overall World Cup leader Ophelie David of France might have something to say about that.
Chris Del Bosco is one of the odds-on favourites in men’s action, and is coming off a victory at an Olympic tune-up event in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Three-time World Cup champion Steve Omischl leads a men’s aerials team that should snag a medal in what is considered a wide-open competition. Predictions: Men Moguls Bronze - Alex Bilodeau Ski cross Gold - Chris Del Bosco Women Moguls Gold - Jennifer Heil Ski cross Silver - Ashleigh McIvor Bronze - Kelsey Serwa Total medals: 5 (2 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze) Hockey Men Just like the previous three Olympics featuring NHL players, Team Canada will arrive in Vancouver with more depth than any other country.
There are two recent scoring champions ( Joe Thornton, Sidney Crosby), four Olympic gold medallists (Martin Brodeur, Jarome Iginla, Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger), several major award winners and a combined 14 Stanley Cup championships.
Canada is also blessed with arguably the weakest group of opponents for the preliminary round. It will face Norway, Switzerland and the U.S. early in the tournament — avoiding Russia, Finland, the Czech Republic and defending champion Sweden.
But Team Canada will have to face some of the powerhouse countries eventually. Once that happens, it will need to find a way to manage the heavy expectations that come with playing on home soil and outperform teams with top-end talent like the Russians and Swedes. Predictions: Silver Total medals: 1 (silver) Hockey Women Canada and the U.S. are expected to meet in the championship game Feb. 25 at Canada Hockey Place, with Finland and Sweden battling for bronze.
Sweden upset the U.S. in the Olympic semifinal of 2006 and then fell 4-1 to Canada in the final.
The Americans are better-prepared for 2010. The U.S. has won the last two world championships and beat Canada in both finals.
Russia, China, Switzerland and Slovakia round out the Olympic women’s hockey field. Predictions: Gold Total medals: 1 (gold) Long-track speedskating A deep Canadian team is fronted by leading medal favourites Kristina Groves, Christine Nesbitt and Denny Morrison.
Groves will skate in five events and has the ability to win a medal in all, Nesbitt is unbeaten in the 1,000 this season and has also been strong in the 1,500, while Morrison is among the elite men in the 1,000 and 1,500.
Clara Hughes is set to defend her Olympic title in the 5,000, while Jeremy Wotherspoon has turned the tables on a slow start to the season and is starting to look like a contender in the 500.
Cindy Klassen, the five-time medallist at the 2006 Games, is off form as she returns from double-knee surgery but is too talented an athlete to be discounted.
Up-and-comers like Jamie Gregg (500), Lukas Makowsky (1,500 and 5,000) and Brittany Schussler (1,000 and 1,500) come into the Games under the radar but have ability to surprise.
And both pursuit teams, particularly the world record women, should also end up on the podium. Predictions: Men 1,000 metres Bronze - Denny Morrison 1,500 metres Silver - Denny Morrison Team pursuit Bronze - Canada Women 1,000 metres Gold - Christine Nesbitt 1,500 metres Gold - Christine Nesbitt Silver - Kristina Groves 3,000 metres Bronze - Kristina Groves 5,000 metres Bronze - Clara Hughes Team Pursuit Gold - Canada Total medals: 9 (3 gold, 2 silver, 4 bronze) Snowboarding Canada is sending a talented team of snowboarders to Vancouver, led by snow- Parallel giant slalom Silver — Jasey-Jay Anderson Women Snowboard cross Gold — Maelle Ricker Silver — Dominique Maltais Total medals: 3 (1 gold, 2 silver) board-cross racers Maelle Ricker and Dominique Maltais, and parallel giant slalom veteran Jasey-Jay Anderson.
The rest of the squad is deep, which means several others could also find the podium.
Ricker, ranked No. 1 on the World Cup tour, is a favourite to win gold, while thirdranked Maltais could also come out on top. The two women have reached the podium together in four of five World Cup events this season.
In men’s snowboard cross, any of Canada’s riders could step up and win a medal. Rob Fagan, Mike Robertson, Francois Boivin and 2007 World Cup champ Drew Neilson can’t be taken lightly by their rivals.
Anderson, the 2009 world champion, has won medals in four races this season and is second in World Cup points for parallel giant slalom.
Michael Lambert, who has two podium results this season, and Matthew Morison, returning from an elbow injury, also have a chance to capture medals in the alpine event.
Alexa Loo and Caroline Calve could surprise in women’s parallel giant slalom. Predictions: Men Short-track speedskating Charles Hamelin and Kalyna Roberge are the top individual Canadian medal contenders, and both the men’s and women’s teams are expected to reach the podium in the relays.
Hamelin will skate in all individual distances, and winning a medal in each is well within the realm of possibility. He holds the world record in the 1,000 metres, and is ranked first in World Cup standings in the 500 metres.
Roberge placed fourth in the 500 metres at the 2006 Turin Games, and is now ranked second in the world in that distance.
Francois-Louis Tremblay, who is skating in his third Olympics, is also a strong contender in the 500 metres where he is ranked second this World Cup season just behind Hamelin.
Other members of the team who are new to the Games have potential to make it on to the podium, including rising star Marianne St-Gelais in the 500 metres. St-Gelais is the world junior record holder in the distance, and ranks fourth in the distance in this year’s World Cup circuit.
Jessica Gregg is another young sprinter who could challenge the pack in the 500 metres.
The men have a solid chance of winning the gold in the 5,000 metre, and the women are also expecting to come away with a medal in their 3,000-metre relay. Predictions: Men 500 metres Gold - Charles Hamelin Bronze - Francois-Louis Tremblay 1,000 metres Silver - Charles Hamelin 1,500 metres Bronze - Charles Hamelin 5,000-metre relay Gold Women 500 metres Silver - Kalyna Roberge 3,000 metre relay Bronze Total medals: 7 (2 gold, 2 silver, 3 bronze) Skeleton On the women’s side, Mellisa Hollingsworth of Eckville, Alta., is the closest thing Canada has to a gold medal lock in any sliding sport. The 29-year-old won the World Cup title in 2006, then won bronze at the Turin Games. In Whistler, she goes to Vancouver again with the World Cup title, but now on a home track with veteran experience. That makes all the difference.
On the men’s side, Jon Montgomery of Russell, Man., won the pre-Olympic test event at Whistler last February. He won in Cesana this World Cup year and enters the Olympics on a roll, with fifth-place finishes in his last two races. Hard to see the 30-yearold defeating Latvian Martins Dukurs for gold, but he has a good shot at being at the podium. Predictions: Men Silver - Jon Montgomery Women Gold - Mellisa Hollingsworth Total: 2 (1 gold, 1 silver) No medals projected in biathlon, crosscountry skiing, luge, nordic combined or ski jumping.
Overall total: 37 (11 gold, 12 silver, 14 bronze)
Turin total (2006): 24 (7 gold, 10 silver and 7 bronze)