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Vancouver's legacy: No more 5th business

Posted: Wednesday, February 9, 2011 | 11:14 PM

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The Canadian home Olympics are a year gone.

But a change in attitude lingers.

While we rejoice in 14 gold medals and 26 podium results, the near misses are more indicative of a seismic shift in expectations on the part of Canadian competitors.

Almost winning doesn't count anymore - a good thing for a country that fancies itself a sporting nation.
kershaw-100222-584.jpgDevon Kershaw didn't take his fifth-place finish in the Olympic 50K cross-country ski marathon lying down: he's having a big year on the World Cup circuit. (Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images)

This story is part of CBCSports.ca's retrospective on the one-year anniversary of the Vancouver Olympics. To access all the articles, click here.

The Canadian home Olympics are a year gone.

But a change in attitude lingers.

While we rejoice in 14 gold medals and 26 podium results, the near misses are more indicative of a seismic shift in expectations on the part of Canadian competitors.

Almost winning doesn't count anymore - a good thing for a country that fancies itself a sporting nation.

Four fifth-place finishes from the 2010 Games warrant re-examination.

Mellisa Hollingsworth ended up fifth in skeleton over the course of four heats, a mere half a second from the gold-medal total of Amy Williams of Great Britain. It was a miniscule margin of defeat that left Hollingsworth distraught, declaring, "... I let my entire country down."

But Hollingsworth soldiered on, and instead of quitting she committed herself to the journey to Sochi in 2014. In eight World Cup races this season she's been on the podium three times and is ranked third in the world.

"It stinks," Patrick Chan said after finishing fifth in figure skating. But then again he learned something.

"I saw that one day I could dominate my sport."  

Now Chan is the Grand Prix champion, has the quad jump in his arsenal and has the inside track on next month's world championship in Tokyo.

On the last day of the Games in the biggest cross-country ski race, the 50K marathon, Sudbury's Devon Kershaw was fifth, 1.6 seconds from gold. He got lost in the dust of the Sidney Crosby goal and the men's hockey victory.

"That opportunity is gone forever," Kershaw said of that ordeal. "But it was the most motivating thing that could ever happen to me."

This season in the massive Tour de Ski, Kershaw scored his first World Cup victory and found the podium four times in eight races.

Finally, there's alpine skier Erik Guay.  

Fifth in both the downhill and super-G at Whistler, Guay missed two gold medals by the sum total of eight tenths of a seconds, or the blink of an eye.

He wasn't the hottest interview afterwards. But he did collect himself to score three podium results and win the super-G Crystal Globe to end the World Cup campaign. He's also the only Canadian to win a medal on this year's World Cup circuit.

That's the legacy of Vancouver, plain and simple.

Nowadays for Canadian athletes, this business of finishing fifth equals one thing.

Unfinished business.

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