February 14, 2010

2010 Olympics Day 2

Svein Tuft for Day 2: Jean Philippe Le Guellec

Jean Philippe Le Guellec, ranked 33rd in the World Cup sprint standings in biathlon, finished sixth in today's 10 km sprint event. The previous best-ever for Canada at the Olympics was an eighth-place finish by Steve Cyr in 1992.

It seems that Le Guellec was considerably smarter about his chances in this event than most of the pundits. Here's his take on the Whistler course, taken from an interview in the Province that ran this morning:

Just the trail here and the whole way the system is set up is that anything can happen. When you look at results, even on the World Cup, you can see the top 60 athletes and if three-quarters had shot one more target, they'd be on the podium or in the top 10. It's that drastic.

Le Guellec missed one of ten targets today. The order of finish in the sprint now determines the start order and interval in the 12.5 km pursuit event, which runs on Tuesday. In the pursuit event, racers are assigned staggered start times — in this case, based on the results of today's sprint — and the first competitor past the finish line is the winner. If you've never seen this, its very dramatic. Le Guellec will start in sixth position, 50 seconds behind the leader. Many of the event's biggest names will be starting behind him.

Honourable Mention: Sam Edney

When I first heard about Jean Philippe Le Guellec's result today, I thought the Svein Tuft for today would be a no-brainer. But luger Sam Edney had a great day, too.

Edney was 11th after run 1, 10th after run 2, and 8th after run 3. On run 4, he had the third-best time, behind only the powerhouse Germans, to vault into seventh place. That's a best-ever Olympic result for Canada in men's luge.

Medal Prediction

Of course Canada had a good day today overall. Kristina Groves picked up a bronze medal in the women's 3,000 m, and Clara Hughes finished 5th. And it was a super night at Cypress, with Alexandre Bilodeau winning Canada's first gold medal of these Games — or of any "home" Olympic games. Joining Bilodeau in the top 5 were Vincent Marquis and Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau, who were sitting 1-2 with four skiers to go.

The medal prediction has shifted upward since yesterday, and is still down slightly overall. The data are in the table and figure below.

Sport Event Athlete Category Result Impact
Initial Prediction         27.05
Day 1         -0.75
Freestyle Ski Moguls - M Bilodeau, Alexandre Strong GOLD +0.35
Freestyle Ski Moguls - M Marquis, Vincent Possibility 4th -0.35
Freestyle Ski Moguls - M Rousseau, Pierre-Alexandre Outside 5th -0.10
Speed Skating - LT 3,000m - W Groves, Kristina Possibility BRONZE +0.65
Speed Skating - LT 3,000m - W Hughes, Clara Outside 5th -0.10
Day 2         +0.45
Current         26.75

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