Sports Day in Canada: Living the dream | Sports | CBC Sports

Sports Day in Canada: Living the dream

Posted: Thursday, November 28, 2013 | 07:59 PM

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Women's ski jumping will be an Olympic event for the first time ever at the upcoming Sochi Games in February. (Scott Russell/CBC Sports) Women's ski jumping will be an Olympic event for the first time ever at the upcoming Sochi Games in February. (Scott Russell/CBC Sports)

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RBC Sports Day in Canada Road Tour continues as CBC's Scott Russell is visiting communities across the country to see how they're celebrating ahead of the big day on Saturday, Nov. 30. The fourth stop is Winnipeg, where women's ski jumping was the topic of discussion. 
Day 4 of the road trip was supposed to be employed as a reconnaissance mission as we made preparations at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, the host location for RBC Sports Day in Canada.

I couldn't help myself.

So much was going on all around me. 

There, presiding over the grounds was the majestic 1988 Olympic Cauldron as well as the statue commemorating the volunteers and the Torch Relay which made those wonderful Games come to life a quarter of a century ago. 

Two intrepid guys on a crane were putting the finishing touches on a gigantic mural which depicts Canada's Olympic stars of the recent past. The skeleton riders were huffing and puffing at the start hut making ready for the all important first World Cup of the season.

Hundreds and hundreds of kids were taking advantage of mild conditions and abundant snow to zip down the ski hill or lazily ride the Superpipe in the mid-morning sun.

I took a trip to the top of COP, up to where the massive Canadian flag flutters in the ever present breezes of the foothills.

There, hurtling themselves from the K90 or "normal hill" ski jumping in run were the young women who will represent Canada at the Olympics in Sochi. They will become trailblazers in their sport. They will be the first females to take flight at the Games and it's so close now that they can almost taste it.

"That's a fist pump! Yeah! She hasn't done a fist pump in awhile," exclaimed Gregor Linsig, the head coach of Canada's ski jumping team.  He was beaming as he watched 18-year-old Taylor Henrich nail her last takeoff of the day.

"Everyone's attitude is so good right now," Linsig said. "I wish the Olympics were around the corner every month. Their motivation as well as their drive is most definitely there. I think it's a good thing."

It's a great thing.

And even better is the fact that for the first time since 1986 the ski jump facility at Canada Olympic Park is operational with plenty of snow in November. The team is used to making its home base in Park City, Utah.  But you can tell that negotiating this historic home hill has everybody pumped up as the big show approaches.

Atsuko Tanaka, a 21-year-old from Calgary is expected to join Henrich and 17-year-old Alexandra Pretorius as the first Canadian women to contest Olympic ski jumping at the RusSki Gorki venue in Sochi come February.

But there's still work to be done as the team is embarking on the World Cup circuit which begins in the 1994 Olympic community of Lillehammer next week. 

Tanaka has shown the potential for success at the Olympics by winning medals on the women's Grand Prix circuit recently. She's thankful that females are at long last set for takeoff on the biggest international stage and is mindful that others have done a lot of work to pave the way.

"A lot of the older athletes are the pioneers and they pushed and fought for the younger ones to live the dream," Tanaka offered. "It's nice to know we have athletes like that in our sport and we should remember to look up to them and to do the same for those who will follow us."

It's exhilarating to watch them rocket off the jump. Without fear they launch themselves into the wild blue yonder and then land expertly at the end of their journey.

It's true they call this the "normal hill" when it comes to the Olympic lexicon. But as I watch in wonder, I understand there is nothing normal about it.

That's why these soaring, ambitious young people have such an enormous appeal for me in the shadow of all that greatness at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary.

They are training on the most magnificent fields of play anywhere in the world and they are most assuredly living the dream.

Next were in Vancouver for RBC National Jersey Day.  Along with our travelling partners from ParticipACTION and True Sport we'll celebrate Canadians' passion for their favourite team. 

On Saturday we're headed back to Calgary for RBC Sports Day in Canada to feature more than 1600 events taking place in communities across the country. We'll also have World Cup bobsleigh and skeleton as well as the men's World Cup downhill from Lake Louise featuring Canada's Erik Guay. It all takes place from 1-6 pm ET, 10 am-3 pm PT on Sports Weekend's Road to the Olympics.

You can follow our journey at and on Twitter at #Sportsday.  Don't forget to send us your best pictures from your community's experience on RBC Sports Day in Canada.

Get Out and Play Canada!

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