It took Drew Goldsack a little longer than the majority of his teammates to book his trip to Vancouver, but it was well worth the wait.
Five days after Goldsack was told the bad news that he was left off the Canadian team, he was officially informed on Jan. 27 that Cross-Country Canada received four additional spots for 2010 Winter Olympic Games and he had one of those.
“It was certainly a big relief — it was a rough week up to then,” said the 28-year-old Red Deer native, who lives in Canmore. “After receiving the news, I could completely focus on the Games and not worry about anything else. The hardest part was not knowing what was going to happen, yet still training. Afterwards, I could train with a purpose. It was a lot easier.”
Originally Goldsack believed he would be on the Canadian team after a solid performance at the Olympic qualifying in December where he won one of two classic sprint races, finished second in the other and had a fourth in the 15-km skate race.
He was told he would be nominated for the team as he was placed seventh on the Canadian list, just behind Stefan Kuhn, who he was actually tied with.
“The way it worked, they only took one single best result (from the qualifying) and Stefan also won a race, so it came down to points accumulated over the year and he edged me on that,” explained Goldsack, who missed the majority of the 2008-09 season because surgery on his ankle.
“It was a mistake by our association as they expected to have more spots open to them,” he explained at the time. “This is the first year FIS (the international ski association) limited the number of athletes each country can send and our association expected to have 15 or 16 spots open to them and the selection criteria was written accordingly.
“They nominated the athletes with the expectation it would be no problem and I was one of those nominations. But in the end, that assumption was a disastrous mistake.”
Canada received 11 spots — five women and six men — and Goldsack came up one spot short.
However, it was expected Canada would receive additional spots once other countries turned in spots they wouldn’t fill.
“But it was tough to wait. I’m glad they made the decision as quickly as they did,” said Goldsack, who felt the Canadian association pushed to get him on the roster.
“They worked hard to get me on in the first selection, but unfortunately there were some oversights, which left me without a spot. It wasn’t a great thing to happen when people stand in the way of an athlete, but it worked out for the best.
“I think it was tougher to take because the Games are in Canada, there were a lot expectations.”
Goldsack will make his second appearance at the Olympics, having competed in Turin, Italy, in 2006 where he finished 31st in the sprint, 54th in the 15-km classic and 57th in the 30-km team pursuit.
Although his finish in the sprint was the best in history for a Canadian male, Goldsack was disappointed.
“That’s something I’m definitely looking to improve on,” he said. “I was happy in that it was the best ever by a Canadian, but I expected more out of myself. I have my sights set a lot higher this time around. I feel a podium finish is not out of the question.”
Goldsack will compete in the sprint on Feb. 17 and possibly in the sprint and distance relays.
“I’m one of the all-around guys on the team and could compete in some of the longer distances, although we do have a very strong team this year,” he said. “But definitely my strength is the sprint.”
Goldsack doesn’t know much about the Whistler course.
“Because of my injury last season I didn’t get a chance to compete on the course, so that’s a little setback, but then again we’re used to showing up on a Thursday or Friday and racing on a Saturday, that’s just part of the sport. So really it’s not a big deal.”
Goldsack is just glad to be showing up, as are his parents and friends.
“My parents had everything booked and were going regardless, so it’s definitely a bonus for them for me to be going. And a bonus for me to have my family there.”
Goldsack will continue to compete next year, and possibly aim for the 2014 Olympics in Russia.
“I’m taking it a year at a time,” he said. “I’ll compete next year for sure, then re-evaluate where I’m at and if I should push toward the 2014 Olympics in Russia.”
After the Vancouver Olympics, Goldsack will turn to his other job as a production assistant for movie producer Bill Erfurth.
“A friend of mine owns a production company and I started working part time for him,” explained Goldsack. “It was a good way to earn some extra money during my down time and when I was injured.”
Goldsack helped promote the movie Canvas last spring and is looking forward to working on a big-budget film, Padre Pio, which is expected to cost between $10 million and $15 million. It would be filmed in Italy.
“My job is working on social networking and if works out, we’d start shooting in April, which is good in that that’s the month we take off from training.”
Goldsack says it’s not the usual path athletes look at after their careers are over, but “I enjoy it and it’s nice to have something to fall back on once my career is over.”