BOB'S BLOG 1 day till Sochi. 5 to watch for Canada
The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle; the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.
– Pierre de Fredy, Baron de Coubertin, founder of the Modern Olympics
As always there will be much focus on medals, podium finishes and post-event analysis of why “so and so” didn’t’ achieve what the media, obsessed as they are with mainstream North American sports, had predicted based on their quick study of past results.
Let’s take a different approach and look past the favourites. Here are five athletes who may not end up owning the podium but have worked hard to get there. They, and all the others, should be commended for their hard work and dedication.
Lisa Yurkiw, alpine skiing, 25 , Owen Sound
A sixth-place finish at a downhill event in January earned a spot on the team for Yurikw. She had a lot to overcome to get that spot.
The reigning Canadian downhill champion was dropped from the team after sub-par results last season.
Those results were undoubtedly the result of a serious knee injury she suffered in 2009.
Not being on the team meant raising money to compete. Yurikw has done that to the tune of $150,000.
Her big event, the downhill, goes Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 2 a.m. EST
Vincent De Haitre, long-track speed skater, 19, Gloucester (Ottawa)
De Haitre’s victory at the Canadian Selection Trials came as a big surprise for some. Only 19 years of age, De Haitre won the 1000 metres in a decent time of 1:08.37. A dual sport athlete in the Clara Hughes tradition, De Haitre has already captured another national championship in a different sport. He’s the Canadian elite 1 kilometre time-trial cycling champ.
The 1,000 metres gets underway Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 9 a.m.
Marianne Leeson, alpine snowboarder, 26, Burlington
Leeson started out as a ski racer but switched to snowboarding 12 years ago. She has been a regular in international events since 2011 and has been showing gradual improvement.
Like many of today’s young athletes, she uses social media to convey the joy of being a competitive athlete and to attract sponsorships. Take a look at it here: marianneleeson.com
The parallel slalom (PSL) goes Saturday, Feb. 22 at midnight.
E.J Harden and Ryan Harden, curling, 30 and 27, Sault Ste. Marie
The brothers from the Soo have both been curling 22 years and take pride in their training regimen that proves that they are athletes, not just curlers. Skip Brad Jacobs is their cousin and was an alternate on the 2008 Brier team led by the brothers’ father Eric. The rink will be working hard to reverse last year’s world-championship loss to the Niklas Edin rink of Sweden.
The gold-medal match is set for Feb. 21 but Canada and Sweden will hook up in the round robin on Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 5 a.m.
Bob Wood is a housing and poverty advocate and former two-term Burlington City Councillor who has built a bed-and-breakfast with his wife on Lake Erie.