Canada talk tough but U.S. show more mettle and medals

Sat Feb 20, 2010 4:46pm EST
 
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By Janet Guttsman

VANCOUVER, Feb 20 - United States athletes are fulfilling their pledge to steal the podium from the Canadians who are spending tens of millions on "owning it" but the home country at the Winter Games was not yet waving the white flag on Saturday.

"We still aim to be first in the medal count at the end of the games," an optimistic Michael Chambers, president of the Canadian Olympic Committee, told a news conference at the February 12-28 Vancouver Games.

~We've got a week of competition ahead of us. And it's a week of competition where we think the team can be very successful. The U.S. has 20 medals so that's quite an incredible lead but it's been erased before. Our athletes are all here to win."

After he spoke, the U.S. added another medal with bronze in the women's Alpine skiing super-G won by Lindsey Vonn taking their overall tally to 21.

Canada is spending about C$47 million annually on its "Own the Podium" programme aimed at improving results at both the Winter and Summer Games.

Canadian athletes have picked up four gold medals, as well as three silver and one bronze, so far, breaking the curse of hosting two previous Olympics (Montreal 1976 and Calgary 1988) without winning gold in them.

But half-way through the competition days, they are only fourth in the medals table, with no wins in Alpine skiing.

"The members of Canada's Olympic alpine team, men and women? They choked. Or panicked. Or somehow failed to ski to their potential through four Olympic events," Michael Grange of the Globe and Mail newspaper wrote in an online posting.   Continued...

 
<p>Gold medallist Christine Nesbitt (C) of Canada stands with silver medallist Annette Gerritsen (L) and bronze medallist Laurine van Riessen of the Netherlands as her national anthem is played during the medal ceremony for the women's 1000 metres speed skating competition at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, February 18, 2010. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez</p>