We were pleased to join those who, last night, gave Olympians Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers an excellent sendoff on their way to Sochi.
The pairs figure skaters may be Saskatchewan natives, but they have lived and trained full-time in Virden for the past three years, and we’re claiming them as our own.
After a series of top-three finishes at national championships, we have high hopes for them on the ice in Russia.
Also on the way to the 2014 Winter Olympics are a few other hometown heroes we can root extra hard for. Darren Granger has been named equipment manager for Canada’s men’s hockey team. Granger, a former Brandon Wheat Kings trainer, has served as equipment manager for the Los Angeles Kings for the past eight seasons and brought the Stanley Cup here in the summer of 2012 after the Kings’ victory. The list of other former Brandon residents heading to Russia also features curler Jill Officer — second on Jennifer Jones’ Winnipeg-based women’s foursome — while Wheat City natives Trevor Pilling — executive director for CBC’s Olympic coverage — and Ted Wyman — sports editor of the Winnipeg Sun — will be going to Sochi to cover the Games.
Unfortunately, one of the lessons of competing at such an extremely high level is that the difference between topping the podium and not making the cut can be frustratingly close.
We’re sorry that Russell’s Jon Montgomery won’t be chugging any pitchers of beer at this Olympics. Montgomery, certainly the runaway star from the Vancouver Games four years ago, gambled on a complete redesign of his skeleton sled, which caused him to struggle in the early going of qualification. But we think he was also doomed by baffling coaching decisions that sent him on the less-prestigious Intercontinental Cup tour instead of the point-rich World Cup tour.
Also relegated to the Intercontinental Cup skeleton tour was Brandon’s Cassie Hawrysh.
It’s doubtless frustrating for both of them that Hawrysh and Montgomery would certainly be headed to Sochi if Canada had managed to qualify a third sledder in women’s and men’s skeleton. It’s the first time that our country has failed to qualify three competitors in both men’s and women’s skeleton, a sport in which we won four medals in the past two Olympics.
For her part, Hawrysh says she’ll be setting her sights on the 2018 games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Montgomery will soon be back on TV to host the next season of “The Amazing Race Canada.”
Meanwhile, we’ll be glued to the screen ourselves, cheering on all of Canada — but especially Westman — at the Sochi Olympics, which start a week from tomorrow.