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Rating the 2010 medal hopefuls

It’s all going to come down to Opod at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games.

It’s all going to come down to Opod at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games.

A key catchphrase among Canadian teams getting ready for next February has been “performance on demand,” p.o.d. for short, that special ability to deliver when the pressure is greatest.

Next winter what’s going to matter is “Olympic performance on demand,” or Opod.

Canada has fared well against their top competitors in that regard this season with 26 total medals (six gold, seven silver, 13 bronze) in Olympic disciplines, with the men’s and women’s world hockey championships and men’s world curling still to come.

Germany leads the way with 27 medals (9-15-3) followed by the U.S., also with 26 (12-4-10).

Here’s a look at some of Canada’s most successful sports this season:

Alpine skiing
The men’s team came through when it counted this season, at the world championships, with a gold in the downhill from John Kucera and a bronze in slalom from Michael Janyk.?However, they still don’t have that star performer who’s a strong threat to win in every race. The Canadian women must rebound from a dreadful season, particularly Whistler’s Britt Janyk.

Opod projection: Decent. Matching the two medals at the worlds would be great. The three to four projected by Alpine Canada for the Olympics seems unrealistic.

Long-track speedskating
This is a team that was without stars Cindy Klassen and Jeremy Wotherspoon at the recent worlds at the Richmond Olympic Oval, yet still matched the powerhouse Dutch in medals with eight. They’ve got steely competitors — Kristina Groves, Clara Hughes, Christine Nesbitt, Denny Morrison — which is important under the Olympic glare.

Opod projection:
Excellent. There’s a good chance they could surpass the eight medals won at this year’s world, maybe even hit 10 or 11.

Bobsled, skeleton, luge
The bright side is that they came away with three medals at the World Cup on the challenging Olympic track in Whistler (Jon Montgomery gold in men’s skeleton, Jeff Pain bronze in men’s skeleton, Pierre Lueders bronze in two-man bobsled).

Alex Gough made a big breakthrough in luge with a fourth-place finish in the women’s event at the worlds. Olympic bronze medallist Mellisa Hollingsworth remains a threat in women’s skeleton.

Opod projection: It’s good, but could be in danger of dropping to slim. Canadian officials are worried about this season’s slide in performance.

Freestyle skiing
Canada’s got a star-studded lineup here, led by Olympic moguls champ Jenn Heil, her training partner Alexandre Bilodeau, winner of the Crystal Globe as the men’s overall moguls champ, and aerialist Steve Omischl.

Opod projection: Excellent. But gold will still be hard to get.

Snowboarding
The grand old man of snowboarding, Jasey-Jay Anderson, is coming off perhaps his best season with a gold in parallel giant slalom at the worlds and victories in his last two World Cup races. Matt Morison of Burketon, Ont., is right on his tail, having won bronze at the worlds.

Opod projection:
Good. Anderson and Morison provide a potent one-two punch.

 
 
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