Canadian winter athletes wrap up best season yet 

Own the Podium closer to 2010 goal

The results are in — Canada’s winter athletes are putting the wraps on their best season ever, with 74 athletes pulling in 184 World Cup medals in events that are going to be featured in 2010. The medals were earned in alpine skiing, freestyle skiing, Nordic skiing, snowboarding, speed skating, figure skating, hockey, and the three sliding sports, bobsleigh, skeleton and luge.

As well, athletes came close to pulling in another 100 medals with 56 fourth place finishes and 57 fifth place finishes in World Cup competitions.

The results were good news for Own the Podium 2010, an organization created to increase funding and services for national sport organizations aiming to have Canada rank first among nations for medals in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, and third for gold medals in the Paralympics.

Both goals appear to be within reach, with Paralympic athletes winning 47gold medals this past season. Nations are ranked in the Olympics by total medals won, and in the Paralympics by gold medals.

“Canadian winter athletes are rising to the challenge as they continue to step up their performances on the world stage,” stated Roger Jackson, CEO of Own the Podium 2010 in a press release. “Results this season have demonstrated that Canadian winter athletes and the national winter sport organizations are committed to achieving Canada’s performance goals for the 2010 Winter Games. They are working harder than ever to prepare for the intensity and pressure they will face in 2010, and we now need to focus on the key factors that will help them convert their fourth and fifth place finishes into podium results in 2010.”

This is the third year for the program, which will inject $110 million through 2010 into Canadian winter sports organizations, hiring performance experts in all fields to work with teams and athletes, and developing new technologies and training techniques in the sport sciences with the Top Secret program.

Of all nations, Germany finished first in 2007-08 with 230 medals, an increase of 15 from the previous season. By comparison, Canada finished second with its 184 medals but earned 49 more medals than last year.

Overall World Cup champions from last season include Kristina Gloves (long track speed skating), Kimberly Joines (Para-alpine), Steve Omischl (aerials), Maëlle Ricker (snowboardcross), Chris Williamson and guide Nick Brush (Para-alpine), Lauren Woolstencroft (Para-alpine), Jeremy Wotherspoon (long track speed skating).

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