By Rob Ficiur
A year ago at this time the World eyes were fixed on Sochi Russia and the Olympic Games. Fast forward a year. What has happened in the sporting lives of these national heroes? Here are a brief (sometimes very brief) updates from Canada’s Gold Medalists from 2014:
1. Men’s Olympic Hockey Team – Canadian Gold Medal winners Drew Doughty and Jeff Carter added a second Stanley Cup ring to their collection when the LA Kings won the Stanley Cup in June.
2. Women’s hockey – Where did you go?The most dramatic Hockey game I have ever watched was the Canadian Women wining Olympic Gold against the USA in Sochi. I know it was dramatic I first watched it later that day after I knew final score. Even knowing the outcome I was riveted by the action. With that upswing in fan focus – what has happened to women’s hockey in the last year?
After several Google searches I found information on the Canadian Women’s hockey league. This league is made up of five teams (four from Canada). The leading scorer in the CWHL right now is two time Olympic Gold Medalist Rebecca Johnson (13 goals 19 assists in 19 games) followed by Hillary Knight (two time Olympic Silver Medalist from the USA) and two time Canadian Gold Medalist Haley Irwin. Bottom line the CWHL has some of the elite players in Women’s hockey.
Big question is why is this not on Sports TV? I found on the league website that their December 2014 all- star game was televised on Sportsnet. This week my sports stations have carried poker, darts and wrestling – none of which are sports by my definition. Is there not a place for Women’s hockey on the five full time sports stations that I have? It of course is a viscous circle, once a sport becomes popular it will gain more fans and bring up the ratings which will make it more popular.
3. Curling –
After Canadian Women won Gold in Sochi, they earned Silver in the Women’s World Championship in March. The Canadian Men, who also won Olympic Gold, earned a Bronze at the World’s. Canada was not represented by the Gold Medal teams in these tournaments, so this update does not give the status of the actual Olympic athletes.
4. Other Winners
Justine Dufour-Lapointe, who won Gold in the Women’s Mogul (Free Style Skiing), won her first single moguls gold at the 2015 freestyle world championships, in January.
Alexandre Bilodeau, who won Gold in the Men’s Moguls, retired after the 2013-2014 season. He is the first Canadian male (and only the second Canadian athlete) to defend an Olympic Gold Medal
Marielle Thompson, who won Gold in Women’s Cross Country Skiing, won her third straight World Cup event in January. She currently ranks third in the International Ski Federation’s Ski Cross standings.
Kaillie Humphrey, who won Gold in the two man bobsled changed her sport in other way since Sochi. Kaillie campaigned to have women be able to compete with men in the four man bobsled. Having the FIBT modify their rules in this regards opens many doors for Kaillie and others to compete. In December Kaillie won the Lou Marsh Award for the top Female Athlete in Canada.
Charles Hamelin, who won gold in the Men’s 1500 short track speed skating, added another Gold at the World Championships. Charles intends to skate four more years and see if he can add to his collection of three Olympic Gold Medals.
Dara Howell, who won Gold in the Women’s Slope style Skiing, won Bronze at the Winter X games in January.
The second half of this column took longer to research than any article I have written. Why? Outside of men’s hockey it is like these athletes disappeared once they left Sochi.
Six months before every Olympic games the broadcasters begin to educate fans about the up and coming stars. But what happens for most of the four years between Olympics to athletes in these lesser known sports?
A year ago they were heroes – now where are they? I found at least something on each of them – but this information came from going several pages into a Google searches. It is almost like their achievement (and sometimes their entire sport) has been swept aside and forgotten about…until the next Olympics come around.
Maybe I looked in the wrong places – or maybe Google can’t find things that are not written; Google can’t promote sports that are locked in their tiny niche. At least I can watch darts or poker on TV.