Curse pressure? No pressure, Canadians say

Sun Feb 14, 2010 3:06pm EST
 
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By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - It may be fun for spectators and the media to speculate about Canada's Olympic curse, but it is not something the athletes really worry about, the head of the country's Olympic committee said on Sunday.

Failure to stand atop a podium on the first full day of competition of the Vancouver Games, as had been expected, has renewed fear among Canadians that they will again host an Olympics without winning a gold medal.

Canada hosted the 1976 Montreal Summer Games and the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary and has the ignominious status of being the only host country to have done that twice.

Chris Rudge, chief executive of the Canadian Olympic Committee, dismisses suggestions the pressure will build on the country's athletes the longer they go without winning gold.

"I think it's a bigger issue among all of you over coffee, or beer or wine," Rudge told reporters. "For us, no. It's not pressure."

Canada has high hopes for Day Two of the Olympics, with eyes on the results of women's 3,000-meter speed skating competition and men's moguls.

Clara Hughes, the only Canadian to win medals at both the Summer and Winter Games, Cindy Klassen, winner of five medals at the Turin Olympics and red hot Kristina Groves offer the potential to sweep the podium at the skating oval.

On Cypress Mountain, Alexandre Bilodeau, Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau and Vincent Marquis will look to dethrone reigning Olympic moguls champion Dale Begg-Smith, a Vancouver native who now competes for Australia.

(Reporting by Allan Dowd; Editing by Frank Pingue)

 
<p>Silver medalist Jennifer Heil of Canada celebrates during the flower ceremony after the women's freestyle skiing moguls final on Cypress Mountain at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics February 13, 2010. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>