Whistler athletes, coaches named to Team Canada
The qualification period for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, officially ended on Jan. 18, when national sports federations submitted their final lists of athletes to the Canadian Olympic Association. To make the team, athletes had to meet criteria set by the International Olympic Committee, the COA, and their various national sports federations.
Canada will enter athletes in all sports except for biathlon and ski jumping, where athletes fell short of qualifying.
The list of athletes is final barring any injuries. In the event of an injury, the national sports federations will nominate another athlete, providing they meet the criteria set by the IOC.
Team Canada for 2002 is comprised of 154 elite athletes, 109 coaches and support staff, and another 58 staff in communications, health care, and athletes village operations.
A number of those people are based in Whistler or train here.
On the alpine ski team, there are 11 athletes going to Salt Lake City: Dave Anderson, 22, of Rossland, B.C.; Sara-Maude Boucher, 22, of St-Denis-de-Brompton, Quebec; Emily Brydon, 20, of Fernie, B.C.; Allison Forsyth, 23, of Nanaimo, B.C.; Thomas Grandi, 31, of Banff, Alberta; Anne-Marie Lefrancois, 25, of Charlesbourg, Quebec; Darin McBeath, 25, of Calgary, Alberta; Edi Podivinsky, 31, of Toronto; Jean-Philippe Roy, 23, of Ste-Flavie, Quebec; Genevieve Simard, 20, of Val-Morin, Quebec; and Melanie Turgeon, 25, of Quebec City.
Brydon is still recovering from a knee injury she sustained mid-November, and is questionable for the Games. If she isnt rehabilitated before the Olympics, nobody has qualified to take her spot.
Forsyth used to race for the Whistler Mountain Ski Club. Alpine coaches Jim Pollock and Rob Boyd are based in Whistler, as is team leader Joze Sparovec.
"We are anxiously awaiting the Games," said Sparovec. "We have been preparing very diligently over the last four years and are ready.
"2002 will see a young Canadian alpine squad but we have established ourselves as contenders over the last two years. Competing so close to home is such a big motivator for us. Well be in competition venues were familiar with and will also have so many Canadian supporters on hand. Our goals for the Games are two medals and we believe we have several athletes with the potential to achieve this."
Canada sent just seven alpine skiers to the Nagano Winter Games in 1998, compared to 11 this year. Forsyth and Turgeon are considered internationally to be top medal contenders, as is Brydon when she is healthy. Simard also won a World Cup bronze medal in Germany last weekend.
In the sport of freestyle skiing, 14 Canadian athletes qualified for the Games: Veronika Bauer, 22, of Toronto; Jeff Bean, 35 of Ottawa; Scott Bellavance, 26, of Prince George, B.C.; Tami Bradley, 31, of Vancouver; Jean-Luc Brassard, 29, of Grand-Ile, Quebec; Veronica Brenner, 27, of Sharon, Ontario; Andy Capicik, 28, of Toronto; Deidra Dionne, 19, of Red Deer, Alberta; Nicolas Fontaine, 31, of Magog, Quebec; Jennifer Heil, 18, of Spruce Grove, Alberta; Ryan Johnson, 27, of Calgary; Steve Omischl, 23, of North Bay, Ontario; Kelly Ringstad, 27, of Whistler.; and Stephane Rochon, 27, of St-Saveur, Quebec.
Although Ringstad is the only athlete to list Whistler as her hometown, Bradley and Capicik, who are married, live here for part of the year, as does Bellavance. The team leader, Todd Allison, also lives and works in Whistler, and is involved in the Vancouver-Whistler bid for the 2010 Winter Games.
Virtually all Canadian freestyle athletes are capable of winning podiums, and many have Olympic experience. For Fontaine, a four-time world aerials champion, its his fourth appearance.
In snowboarding, Canada will send just nine athletes, with only one woman qualifying for the halfpipe, and no women in the alpine events. The Canadian snowboard team is Jasey-Jay Anderson, 26, of Mont Tremblant, Quebec; Brett Carpentier, 26, of Mont Tremblant; Mark Fawcett, 30, of Rothesay, New Brunswick; Mike Michalchuk, 24, of Calgary; Daniel Migneault, 23, of Quebec City; Guillaume Morisset, 21, of Ste-Foy, Quebec; Jerome Sylvestre, 21, of Bromont, Quebec; Ryan Wedding, 20, of Coquitlam.; and Natasza Zurek, 23, of Vancouver.
Michalchuk lives in Pemberton and trains in Whistler, Morisset and Migneault live in Whistler, and Zurek practices on the Blackcomb Superpipe. In addition, two of the coaches, Christian Hrab and Steve Legge, call Whistler home.
Any of Canadas freestyle snowboard athletes can win in the pipe on any given day, and Zurek is a favourite among the women. Anderson, who races alpine events, was the overall FIS world champion last season and poses a serious threat to medal.
Whistler physiotherapist Allison Megeney will also travel with Team Canada as part of the health care group.