Canada medal pace strong, but lagging in gold at halfway mark in Beijing

Canada was on pace for another sizable medal haul, albeit more bronze than gold, at the halfway mark of the Winter Olympics. Canada's team in Beijing had earned 13 medals (one gold, four silver, eight bronze) by Saturday.

Team Canada has claimed 13 medals (1 gold, 4 silver, 8 bronze) by Saturday

Max Parrot's men's snowboard slopestyle gold medal earned Monday remains Canada's only top prize in Beijing 2022 as the Winter Olympics reach its halfway mark. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Canada was on pace for another sizable medal haul, albeit more bronze than gold, at the halfway mark of the Olympic Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Canada's team had earned 13 medals (one gold, four silver, eight bronze) by Saturday. That tied for fourth with Russia behind front-runner Norway (17) and Germany and Austria (14).

The Canadian Olympic Committee's stated gold medal in Beijing is keeping its athletes out of COVID-19 isolation, getting them to the start line and letting the chips fall where they may.

"The goal was to come here, to come here safe and to compete and from there, the athletes will deliver," COC chief sport officer Eric Myles told The Canadian Press.

As of Saturday, none of Canada's 215 athletes had to isolate after their arrival in Beijing.

Figure skater Keegan Messing missed the team event, but landed in time to compete in men's singles. He'd tested positive in Canada and needed to produce the requisite number of negative tests to travel.

Hockey player Emily Clark was pulled from a game because of an inconclusive test result, but she returned to Canada's lineup to play the following day.

Myles believes extra measures and testing the COC implemented before and after departure from Canada, beyond what Beijing required, has kept the virus from dashing Olympic dreams so far.

'There's a lot ahead of us to come'

"Halftime is halftime. There's a lot ahead of us to come," Myles said. "We feel safe, but it would be really a big mistake right now to put our guard down. That's the message and the attitude that we have right now. We don't change anything we've put in place right now."

Canada's chef de mission says athletes have sacrificed too much in the weeks heading into Beijing to be incautious now.

"They've done so much," Catriona Le May Doan said. "They knew their families couldn't be here, but for the last two, three, four weeks before leaving, the fact that they had to all of a sudden say to families, spouse, kids 'I've got to go. I've got to go into isolation because this is what I need to do,' that's pretty incredible."

The stated goal when Canada was host of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler, B.C. was to be the No. 1 country in total medals won.

The host team ranked third with 26, but 14 gold was a record then.

Pandemic effect

Canada started backing off setting hard medal targets for its Olympic teams, summer and winter, even before the pandemic.

But the reduction, relocation and revamping of competition and training during the two years of the pandemic, plus the variable of who could dodge the virus to actually compete in Beijing, threw medal projections out the window.

Canada's team generated five gold, five silver and five bronze by the midpoint en route to a record 29 medals (11 gold, eight silver, 10 bronze) in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018.

The 2022 edition has work to do in the back half in Beijing to hit that gold standard. All other countries ranked in the top 10 in total medals have claimed at least two gold.

Cancer survivor Maxence Parrot of Bromont, Que., was Canada's lone gold medallist in the first eight days, winning the men's snowboard slopestyle event on Day 3. The 27-year-old will chase a second medal on Tuesday in the big air competition.

Musical | Max Parrot soars to gold in slopestyle:

Musical | Max Parrot soars to gold in slopestyle

10 months ago
Duration 1:45
Get all the sights and sounds of Canadian Max Parrot's gold medal in men's snowboard slopestyle in this musical montage.

Ottawa speedskater Isabelle Weidemann became the country's first multi-medallist in Beijing with silver in the women's 5k and bronze in the 3k.

The International Olympic Committee's introduction of mixed team events in Beijing for gender integration has been a boon to Canada's bottom line, with bronze medals in snowboard cross, aerials and ski jumping.

Relative to some other countries, Canada invests more equitably in men's and women's high-performance sport, Myles said, which makes the country medal-ready for mixed events.

"We need to make sure that we continue to have the opportunities that are equal and we need to make those start at the youth and community level," Le May Doan said.

WATCH | O'Dine recovers from crash to win bronze:

Canada's Meryeta O'Dine lands on podium after Italian snowboarder lands on her

10 months ago
Duration 1:00
Italy's Caterina Carpano landed on Meryeta O'Dine of Prince George, B.C., during the Olympic mixed snowboard cross team big final. Despite the mid-air collision, O'Dine finished the race to earn bronze along with teammate Éliot Grondin of Sainte-Marie, Que.
Snowboarders Meryeta O'Dine of Prince George, B.C., and Eliot Grondin of Sainte-Marie, Que., joined Weidemann in the ranks of multi-medallists Saturday with bronze in mixed team cross.

Grondin also took silver and O'Dine bronze in their individual races.

Canada's first half featured highs, lows and drama. Moguls gold-medal favourite Mikael Kingsbury of Deux-Montagnes, Que., couldn't hide his initial disappointment in silver.

Canadians finished fourth six times in the first half, including world champion speedskater Laurent Dubreuil of Levis, Que., falling short of the 500-metre podium by three-hundredths of a second Saturday.

Toronto's Jack Crawford was also fourth in men's downhill, but landed on the podium with alpine combined bronze.

John Morris of Canmore, Alta., and Ottawa's Rachel Homan fell short of a mixed doubles semifinal losing in an extra end in their final game of the preliminary round.

'A lot of just-missed podiums'

"There's some surprises, some disappointment, some celebrations and performance-wise ... we're doing well," Le May Doan said. "A lot of just-missed podiums, which is always hard."

Time will tell if Canada gets upgraded from fourth to bronze in figure skating's team event. A doping violation by a Russian starlet quickly became part of the daily media drumbeat in Beijing.

Medals have yet to be awarded, and appeals will likely drag on deep into these Games.

The women's hockey team has dominated the Olympic tournament and outscored its opposition 44-5 heading into Monday's semifinal against Switzerland.

Snowboard, freestyle skiing, bobsled, speedskating and short-track are also fertile medal ground for Canada in the second half, as long as the team's coronavirus defences hold.

"We're not out of the woods," Myles said. "It's going to be the highest focus until we're back home."

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now