‘Team Canada is ready’

High hopes as the Win­ter Games be­gin

Metro Canada (Vancouver) - - Front Page -

Con­fi­dence is high on Canada’s Olympic team in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in the face of dop­ing drama, a flu virus and bonechilling cold.

“Team Canada is ready,” Cana­dian Olympic Com­mit­tee pres­i­dent Tri­cia Smith said Thurs­day at a news con­fer­ence.

“We are so ex­cited to be here in Pyeongchang with the strong­est, most well-pre­pared Olympic team Canada has ever sent to the Win­ter Games.”

Com­pe­ti­tion got un­der­way Thurs­day with pre­lim­i­nary rounds of mixed dou­bles curl­ing and ski jump­ing. The curl­ing duo of Ot­tawa’s John Mor­ris and Win­nipeg’s Kait­lyn Lawes fin­ished the day 1-1 and im­proved to 2-1 with a win over China early Fri­day morn­ing.

Cal­gary’s Macken­zie Boy­d­clowes ad­vanced to the com­pe­ti­tion phase of the men’s nor­mal hill ski jump com­pe­ti­tion, plac­ing 23rd in qual­i­fy­ing with a score of 114.6.

Fig­ure skat­ing men’s and pairs short pro­grams and moguls qual­i­fi­ca­tions started Fri­day prior to the evening’s open­ing cer­e­monies.

The first medals will be won Satur­day. Canada’s best medal chances that day are in short­track speed­skat­ing with Charles Hamelin of Sainte-julie, Que., in the men’s 1,500 me­tres, and also at the long-track oval where Ot­tawa’s Ivanie Blondin toes the start line of the women’s 3k.

The coun­try’s 225 ath­letes com­pet­ing in 15 win­ter sports have been pro­jected by data an­a­lysts to beat Canada’s pre­vi­ous high of 26 to­tal medals — 14 gold, seven sil­ver and five bronze — set in 2010.

“We don’t talk about num­bers of medals, but our tech­ni­cal ex­perts will tell you we’ve left no stone un­turned and this team is as pre­pared as a team has ever been,” Smith said.

Pyeongchang will test that prepa­ra­tion men­tally and phys­i­cally.

These games are pre­dicted to be one of the cold­est on record.

De­spite icy winds that will push the mer­cury to­wards mi­nus -20 C, COC ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of sport Eric Myles said there will be “quite high num­ber of the team march­ing” in Fri­day’s open­ing cer­e­mony. Ice dance stars Tessa Virtue of Lon­don, Ont., and Scott Moir of Ilder­ton, Ont., will carry the Cana­dian flag.

Bob­sled brake­man Cam Stones of Whitby, Ont., is com­pet­ing in his first Win­ter Games and vowed to stay for the en­tire cer­e­mony.

Other ath­letes, such as the long-track speed­skaters, have in­di­cated they’ll head for the ex­its af­ter march­ing into the open-air Pyeongchang Olympic Sta­dium.

“We’ll for sure be there to at­tend,” said hockey team de­fence­man Maxim Noreau of Mon­treal. “I don’t know how long, de­pend­ing I guess on weather, time con­straints.”

The or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee POCOG said in a state­ment Thurs­day there were 128 con­firmed cases of norovirus — that nasty gas­troin­testi­nal bug — in the area.

“We don’t have any­one af­fected at this point,” COC chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Chris Over­holt said.

JONATHAN HAY­WARD THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Mark Mcmor­ris, of Regina, trains at the Phoenix Snow Park on Thurs­day.

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