Olympics past and present, front and center

Canada looks forward to Vancouver and back to Calgary

Patrick Chan, who recently took gold at Skate Canada, looks to defend his Trophée Eric Bompard crown.
Patrick Chan, who recently took gold at Skate Canada, looks to defend his Trophée Eric Bompard crown. (Getty Images)


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By Laurie Nealin, special to
(02/13/2008) - Two years from this week, Canada will welcome the world to Vancouver for the opening ceremony of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Canadian news media are already publishing lists of Olympic medal hopefuls expected to bring glory to Canada on home soil.

In figure skating, the names of the newly-crowned national champions -- Patrick Chan and ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir -- showed up on those lists.

On Tuesday, the Vancouver Olympics committee opened its online registration at for prospective volunteers who hope to be one of the 25,000 people selected for the 2010 volunteer team.

The upcoming Games also prompted a look back at the last Olympics hosted by Canada 20 years ago. At the 1988 Calgary Games, Canada won just five medals, including three in figure skating -- Brian Orser and Liz Manley's silvers in singles and Tracy Wilson and Rob McCall's bronze in ice dancing.

That Canada did not win gold at its home Olympics caused considerable dismay. The Olympic Committee vowed that will not happen in 2010. In fact, the goal this time around is for Canada to finish with the most medals of any country. That would require overtaking Germany and the United States, who were 1-2 in Turin in 2006.

Retrospectives of the '88 Games on television and in print media this week have prominently featured "The Battle of the Brians" between Orser and American Brian Boitano, who came away with the gold, as well as Manley's surprising result in the women's event, which was billed as the "Battle of the Carmens." Gold-medal favorites Katarina Witt and Debi Thomas both chose the familiar music for their free skate programs. East Germany's Witt won, while America's Thomas settled for bronze, and Manley came up the middle with the skate of her life.

Orser, Manley and Wilson are slated to be in Calgary this week to participate in the various activities planned to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1988 Winter Olympics.

"I'm doing some Olympic celebrations [Wednesday]. Since I'm not going to Korea, I'm available to do that. That'll be kind of fun," said Orser, who is the coach of South Korea's Yu-Na Kim, who withdrew from the 2008 Four Continents Championships due to injury.

Kim seeks treatment at home

Before heading to Calgary, Brian Orser confirmed that his student, Yu-Na Kim, went back home to Korea on Sunday for medical tests and treatment on her injured hip. Kim, the Grand Prix Final champion who withdrew from Four Continents last week, has already had an MRI and other tests, although Orser did not yet know the results or the treatment plan.

"They didn't want to wait for an MRI here, and she just feels more comfortable with her own medical staff that they have in Korea, so they decided to go and take care of it immediately," Orser said.

"It's not great. However, she's in good hands," Orser said of the timing and distance she had to travel.

Kim's agent told Orser on Monday that they would hold a press conference in Korea to provide more information.

Canadian Sports Awards nominees announced

The 2007 world ice dancing silver medalists Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon and veteran figure skating coach Doug Leigh have been nominated for a Canadian Sports Award.

The awards, the ultimate recognition for excellence in Canadian sport, were established in 1974. Since then, figure skaters have taken top honors 11 times in the various categories. Winning Male Athlete of the Year awards were Toller Cranston, Kurt Browning (four times) and Elvis Stojko (twice). Karen Magnussen won the female athlete award twice, while pairs team Jamie Salé and David Pelletier also won twice in the partners category.

Dubreuil and Lauzon are nominated for the Partners of the Year Award, while Leigh, who took Orser and Stojko to the top of the world podium, is up for the leadership in sport award.

Athletes in swimming, kayaking, track and field, speed skating, tae kwon do, curling, rowing, and ice hockey have also been nominated.

The winners will be announced March 19 in Winnipeg, where the event was also held last year.