SOCHI, Russia — It’s becoming quite common to see two Canadian flags rising together at the Sochi Olympics.
For the third time at the Games, two Canadians found themselves on the same podium. Freestyle skier Dara Howell won Canada’s fourth gold medal Tuesday with a dominating performance in the women’s slopestyle event, while teammate Kim Lamarre was third.
With a pair of 1-2 finishes in men’s and women’s moguls already in the books, Canada totalled their previous high of three double-podium finishes from the 2006 Turin Games. And there are 12 days of competition left to break that record.
Howell’s winning run earned a score of 94.20, well ahead of the 85.40 posted by silver medallist Devin Logan of the United States.
“I think that’s the best run I’ve ever done in my entire life,” said Howell, who was cheered on by a vocal, red-clad contingent that included her parents.
“The course just worked for me today,” the native of Huntsville, Ont., added. “I could not be happier.”
The two medals give Canada a total of nine (four gold, three silver, two bronze). That’s four more than at this point at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Norway leads Canada atop the medal standings with 11 (four gold, three silver, four bronze). The Netherlands is third with eight.
Lamarre, from Quebec City, continued an impressive run from Quebec athletes at these Games. Athletes from the province have contributed six of Canada’s nine medals.
“It’s amazing how many coaches are coaching outside Quebec and it’s amazing how many coaches we produce here,” said Alex Bilodeau, who won his second straight Olympic gold in men’s freestyle moguls on Monday. “When you produce coaches, athletes and people it inspires others and it snowballs. It’s like the economy. If the economy’s doing well, it leads to other gains. It’s the same in sports.”
Bilodeau credited a boost from the Vancouver Games for the rise of winter sport in Quebec, and said it’s only going to get better.
“The number of clubs and registrations increased unbelievably after Vancouver but wait until next year,” he said. “It’s just going to continue to grow in our sport and in others. With (Olympic champion short-track speedskater) Charles Hamelin and all the other Quebecers, you have to keep it going so it continues to inspire the young people in Quebec. We’re on a nice roll, and we can’t let it slip away.”
While Canadian freestyle skiers have been dominant at the Games, it was a tough day for Kaya Turski.
Turski, who came back from a knee injury to win her fifth Winter X Games title last month, crashed on both her training runs.
“I gave it my heart and soul,” said the Montreal native, who has been fighting a virus. “It’s been a great journey but it’s been a tough journey for me.”
Turski showed amazing grit in popping her shoulder back on the course after her first fall.
It was also a painful day for sixth-place Yuki Tsubota of Whistler, B.C., who was stretchered off the course and taken to hospital with a suspected jaw injury from a tumbling crash-landing.
Canada almost added to its medal totals in women’s luge, but Alex Gough and Kimberley McRae just missed the podium, finishing fourth and fifth respectively.
Gough’s finish is the best ever by a Canadian luger at the Olympics, but the Calgary slider was in no mood for silver linings after the race.
“Definitely a little emotional, definitely a little disappointed,” a tearful Gough said at the Sanki Sliding Centre.
“Fourth is definitely the worst feeling. It’s just tough be in that first spot off the podium.”
Also on Tuesday, Jennifer Jones and her Winnipeg rink continued to roll in women’s curling, while Brad Jacobs and his foursome from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., struggled.
Jones curled a perfect game as Canada remained undefeated in round-robin play after a 9-3 victory in eight ends over Sweden.
“I never look at the stats, but I felt like we played really well as a team today,” said Jones. “The girls just left me some makeable shots and I made them.”
Jacobs fell to 1-2 after a tough 7-6 loss to world champion Sweden.
“It’s a two-way win, so to speak,” said Sweden skip Niklas Edin, whose team has won all three of its games. “Both beating them and putting them 1-2.
“Now they can’t really afford any more losses to be sure of making the playoffs.”
In figure skating, Meagan Duhamel from from Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford of Balmertown, Ont., were fifth in pairs after the short program.
The skate wasn’t perfect for Duhamel and Radford, obvious when she knocked herself in the head with her hands afterward.
“I just missed a stupid step in my footwork,” Duhamel said. “I just had a little stumble there. Maybe we lost one point because of it, it was not that detrimental, I was like, ’Ugh,’ silly little step like that.”
Kirsten Moore-Towers of St. Catharines, Ont., were Dylan Moscovitch of Toronto sixth. All four skaters already have a medal for helping Canada win silver in the first ever team event.