SOCHI, Russia -- Canada was a second-half team at the 2010 Winter Olympics. The medal intake in Sochi is forecasted to happen at a more measured pace. Starting with Saturdays mens snowboard slopestyle and womens moguls, Canada has at least one legitimate medal shot, if not more, virtually every day until the closing ceremonies Feb. 23. Chef de mission Steve Podborski and his assistants Jean-Luc Brassard and France St. Louis intend to be present at events where a Canadian is a front-runner for a medal. "I would say were booked every day," Podborski said at a Canadian Olympic Committee news conference Thursday. The host country won 18 of its 26 medals in Vancouver during the back half of the Games. Ten of the 14 gold medals came in the second half, including four on the final weekend. Sports making their Olympic debut helped balance the schedule of Canadas medal prospects in Sochi. Mens and womens snowboard slopestyle, the figure skating team event and the luge relay are among the new events over the first eight days of competition in which Canada has solid medal prospects. Thats in addition to Canadas strength in the entrenched sports of alpine skiing, moguls, short-track speedskating and cross-country skiing. "Sure there are new sports and we happen to be very, very good in the new ones because we are a great sporting nation," Podborski said. "With the support were getting now from corporate Canada, Own The Podium and the Government of Canada, we have an opportunity to be good in the traditional sports as well and thats where well make our great gains in the areas where are athletes are getting better . . . cross-country, alpine skiing." Canadas athletes have been waging fierce foosball tournaments in their village lounge while they await Fridays opening ceremonies, according to Podborski. But Olympic competition started early for some Canadians with Thursdays preliminary rounds. Canada sat in second place, two points behind host Russia, after the first day of the new team figure skating event. Torontos Patrick Chan was third in the mens short program, then Meagan Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford of Balmertown, Ont., were second in the pairs short to give Canada 17 of a possible 20 points after the first two events. Sebastien Toutant of LAssomption, Que., and Max Parrot of Bromont, Que., advanced to the mens snowboard slopestyle final Saturday, while Charles Reid of Mont-Tremblant, Que., and Reginas Mark McMorris will attempt to join them via the semifinal earlier in the day. The Dufour-Lapointe sisters from Montreal -- Justine, Chloe and Maxime -- all qualified for Saturdays womens moguls finals as did Audrey Robichaud of Quebec City. Reigning world champion Spencer OBrien of Courtney, B.C., qualified for the womens slopestyle final Sunday. Hockey Canada also made the decision to replace injured forward Steven Stamkos with Tampa Bay teammate Martin St. Louis. No competition is scheduled Friday because of the opening ceremonies. In addition to slopestyle and womens moguls on opening weekend, skiers Erik Guay of Mont-Tremblant, Que., Calgarys Jan Hudec and Manny Osborne-Paradis of Invermere, B.C., are medal prospects in Sundays downhill. Canadas figure skaters are favoured to win a medal in the team event, which ends Sunday. Canadas objective in 2010 was to top the overall medal count and the target remains the same in Sochi. The host team was third in total medals, but won the gold-medal race four years ago. Because of the new sports, there are 36 more medals to be won in 2014 than in 2010. That will help fill Canadas coffers, but also those of top rivals Germany, Norway, the United States and host Russia. "Canada is here to compete and win," COC president Marcel Aubut said. "Our aim is to contend for the number one spot in medals won." "This is an ambitious goal, but we Canadians like it this way. Our athletes expect nothing less of themselves but the highest achievements." Added Podborski: "You dont try to come "somewhere up there." We expect great things in Canada now. Its an ideal approach. "We may not win the medal count this time. We may not win it the next time but one day we will because we are striving to be number one in the world in the medal count." While Canadas preparation for 2010 seems a successful model to copy for Sochi, the Canadian Olympic Committee took a different approach. The 2008 Summer Games in Beijing posed similar challenges to Sochi in terms of distance to travel, time-zone difference and unfamiliar language, food and culture. Virtually all of Canadas Olympians competed, trained or at least visited Beijing in the year prior to those Games to get comfortable with the place. The same practice was done for Sochi. There was less emphasis on pre-Games visits for the 2012 Summer Games in London. "If we look at the Beijing experience and we look at the Sochi experience, its actually very similar," COC chief sport officer Caroline Assalian says. "New and unfamiliar environment for most countries. "We ensured that the athletes and support teams as much as possible are familiar with this environment." The COC has conducted exit interviews with athletes, their coaches and support teams following Olympic Games since 2006 to better plan for the next. The athletes were asked "what made the difference in your performance?" "Their number one factor? Feeling part of a larger unified team, more than anything," Assalian said. "Thats what made the difference for them. Coaches and support team? Familiarity with the Olympic environment." And where Beijing was also a benchmark for Sochi was in Canadas conversion rate, which the number of athletes ranked in the top five at their most recent world championships make it onto the podium at the subsequent Olympic Games. The COC employs conversion rates to compare how Canadas athletes are performing compared to other countries. Even though Canada won just 18 medals in Beijing, the conversion rate there was 67 per cent compared to 59 per cent at the Winter Games of both 2010 and 2006, according to Assalian. The Canadian team needs at least match Beijings conversion rate to be in the hunt for the overall title in Sochi. "Our bar now is Beijing," Assalian says. "We know we need to convert better than we ever have at any Winter Olympic Games." The Canadian team will attempt this without the advantage it had in Vancouver and Whistler of home ice and home snow. Own The Podium chief executive officer Anne Merklinger says many winter sport teams have stronger leadership and better coaches since 2010. Both areas were priorities coming out of Vancouver and Whistler and she hopes improvements there compensate for the additional challenges of Sochi. "Weve come a long way in that regard," she says. "Without coaches, were behind the 8-ball. Its the most important success factor. "I think there are a number of examples where weve brought in great coaches, but weve lost some too. We need to find a way to continue to retain the good ones we have and attract new ones." "Were investing in that. Thats what it takes. Its a competitive industry." OTP oversees athletes competitive lives between Olympic Games and allocates about $62 million a year in federal government funding between summer and winter sports. The COC prepares athletes for the Games environment and looks after their needs and wants on the ground in Sochi. Josh Tupou Jersey
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... maybe even more than that. Maybe all season I have to take a few blows. PHILADELPHIA -- All that extra batting practice paid off for Wilmer Flores. Flores hit a grand slam and drove in a career-high six runs, Bartolo Colon threw seven-plus sharp innings and the New York Mets beat the Philadelphia Phillies 11-2 Monday night in a makeup from an April rainout. "It felt good," Flores said. "Been struggling the last couple games, and I didnt feel good my first two at-bats, but as the game was going I made the adjustment, so I put a good swing on it. I havent been playing that much, so Ive just been taking extra batting practice. That helped." After playing 39 innings in the three previous games, the teams finally didnt go extras. The Mets took four of five from the Phillies and are 9-1 in Citizens Bank Park, dating to last season. Colon (5-5) allowed two runs and six hits to win his third straight decision. The 41-year-old righty has a 1.61 ERA in his last three outings. "He knows when he has to put a little something on it," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Hes the master of taking stuff, taking speed off the ball, getting it to sink, getting it to move. When he needs it, theres still plenty there." The last-place Phillies went 4-7 on a season-long 11-game homestand. Theyre a season-worst seven games under .500 and barely resemble the team that won five consecutive NL East titles from 2007-11. "We didnt play that well this homestand," Chase Utley said. "Nothing we can do about it now. We have to go on the road and win games." Roberto Hernandez (2-3) failed to pitch six innings for the sixth time in 10 starts. He allowed five runs -- four earned -- and five hits in 5 1-3 innings. Bobby Abreu and Lucas Duda hit consecutive doubles in the second to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. The Mets chased Hernandez in the sixth. Matt den Dekker and Daniel Murphy hit consecutive singles to start the inning. David Wright drove theem both in with a shot off the wall in centre.dddddddddddd After a one-out walk to Abreu, Hernandez was replaced by Mario Hollands. Duda hit a grounder to second base that shouldve been an inning-ending double play, but Utley booted it for an error. Flores then looped a two-run double down the right-field line for a 5-0 lead. The Mets blew it open with six runs in the ninth off Jake Diekman and Phillippe Aumont capped by Flores hitting a grand slam, his second career homer in 145 at-bats. "I just want to prove to them that I can do the job," Flores said. "I know Im good and I can do this." Den Dekker, called up from Triple-A Las Vegas a day after being sent down, robbed Ryan Howard of his third homer in three games. He jumped above the short wall in centre and grabbed Howards drive in the second. Den Dekker saved another run in the third when he threw out Reid Brignac trying to score from second on Ben Reveres single. Brignac hadnt even reached third base when den Dekker fielded the ball in medium centre, but third-base coach Pete Mackanin inexplicably waived him home. Howards RBI groundout in the sixth ended Colons scoreless innings streak at 16 1-3. Revere scored on Jeurys Familias wild pitch in the eighth to cut it to 5-2. NOTES: The Mets placed CF Juan Lagares on the 15-day DL with a strained right intercostal muscle. Den Dekker replaced him. ... Phillies ace Cliff Lee, out with an elbow strain, hopes to start a throwing program during Philadelphias upcoming road trip. ... The Phillies are 12-19 at home; 12-12 on the road. The Phillies start a three-game series at Washington on Tuesday. David Buchanan (1-1, 3.86) makes his third career start filling in for Lee. Jordan Zimmermann (3-2, 4.07) goes for the Nationals. ... The Mets head to Chicago for a three-game series vs. the Cubs. Zack Wheeler (2-5, 4.31) faces Jake Arrieta (1-1, 3.20) on Tuesday night. Cheap Nike NFL Jerseys Cheap Adidas Hockey Jerseys Wholesale Nike Baseball Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys From China Wholesale Jerseys China Wholesale NFL Jerseys China Cheap Nike NFL Jerseys Free Shipping Cheap Nike NBA Jerseys Authentic Cheap NHL Jerseys Canada Cheap Nike MLB Jerseys Cheap Soccer Jerseys China NCAA Jerseys Cheap Nike NHL Jerseys China Wholesale Jerseys China Cheap Jerseys Store Cheap Football Jerseys Store Wholesale Soccer Jerseys Jerseys NCAA China Jerseys NFL Cheap Cheap Nike NBA Jerseys
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