Here’s the line-up of Canadian contenders for the winter Olympiad—and here’s hoping
H. H. ROXBOROUGHFebruary11932
Our Olympics Hopes
Here’s the line-up of Canadian contenders for the winter Olympiad—and here’s hoping
H. H. ROXBOROUGH
IN THE early days of February the sports armies of twenty nations will concentrate in the northeastern portion of the United States, and engage in a physical struggle that will have for its objective the championship of the Third Olympic Winter Games.
To Lake Placid, three hours by train from Montreal, in the heart of the Adirondacks. at an altitude of 2.000 feet above the sea. will come the hockey champions of Canada, bobsled drivers from the Argentine, figure skaters from both Europe and America. s|x*ed skaters from Finland, ski jumpers from Norway and Sweden, curlers from Scotland, and mushers of the frozen North with their huskies. Nearly a thousand competitors will participate.
The major contests will lxin s|x>ed skating, figure skating, ski racing and jumping, bobsledding and hockey. Curling and sled-dog racing will be included as demonstration six>rts.
What are Canada's chances of bringing home any of the bacon? lx*t’s kx>k over the ground.
In previous Olympiads, the victorious speed skaters have come from Finland and Norway. In the Chamonix races in 1927, the flashing blades of Thunberg. the sensational Finnish racer, were first across the line in both the 1,500 and 5.000 metres races, and the same skater was second in the 10.0(X) metres race and third in the 500 metre one. This remarkable individual record in the winter games was equalled only by that of his fellow countryman, Paavo Nurmi, who gain«! similar honors in the summer sports.
At the St. Moritz Olympiad in 1928, the fleet Finnish skater continued his winning ways, for he tied for first in the short race and won the 1.500 metres race, while the distance event was not completed.
On their record the sjxxxl skaters from Eurojx1 should win again at Lake Placid, but something has happened that may affect some of the Old World stars. In Eurojx'an skating, the competitors race against time alone. In each heat, two skaters start at the same instant from parallel points ten feet apart. At one ix>inl their separate routes intersect. Each skater is timed separately, so that a second finisher in one heat may place higher than a slower winner in another heat. This system appears unfair, for the early skaters may race under ideal conditions on keen ice without a wind, whereas the skaters who race hours later may lx> liandicapped by sun-softened ice that has been badly cut by previous comjx*titors, and they may even have to battle through a blizzard. Where time is the test, these later starters are conquered by climatic conditions before they begin.
The American system seems more just, for the entrants are divided into equal groups, all the starters in one group meet identical problems, the heat winners meet in semifinals and then final races. Thus race strategy, ability to judge pace, consistency and speed are the requisite qualifications. The differences between the two methods tire so vital that one need not have the gift of prophecy to predict that European supremacy will be seriously threatened,
even though Thunberg has had some experience in America, skating under American rules.
Naturally, this situation should benefit Alex. Hurd, Frank Stack, Herb Flack, and other Canadians who may be nominated for these events, but it will be quite disappointing if Canada’s speed skating ace, Ross Robinson, persists in his refusal to train for the Olympic contests. Robinson is possibly the most capable blade wizard developed in the last decade. At Ottawa last winter he wron the Canadian championship for the fifth time in seven years; and at Saranac Lake and Lake Placid lie won two firsts, one second and one third, gathered forty points more than his nearest competitor and was awarded the speed skating championship of North America. Robinson is fast, durable and experienced, and if he ostart might prove the Percy Williams of the Third Winter Olympiad. If Robinson definitely refuses to compete. Canada’s likeliest entrant should be Frank Stack, the Winnipeg flash.
Canadian Girls Have Good Chance
CANADIAN girls, however, are likely to excel our men.
Throughout the years of women’s speed skating, Gladys Robinson a sister of Ross and Leila BrcxiksPotter frequently defeated the United States challengers, and broke world's records with such persistency tiiat the achievements ceased to be news. Mrs. Potter is still competing. but to her throne has ascended a new queen. Miss Jean Wilson. So speedy is the young Canadian champion that last year, against a strong international field including former United States champions, Miss Wilson won every heat, semi-final and final, secured four continental titles, and gathered as many points as her six closest competitors combined. You just can’t overlook our lady speedsters.
A similar condition exists in figure skating. Canada’s male contingents, when competing against the select from
Sweden, Austria and other European countries, have in the past reaped only experience. In the St. Moritz expedition, Grafstrom, of Sweden, repeated former triumphs and was followed by five other Europeans, while Canada’s two representatives were placed in thirteenth and fifteenth positions. This year the Dominion will be represented in the men’s singles by Montgomery Wilson, of the Toronto Skating Club, who holds the North American championships. Stewart Reburn was also nominated but has withdrawn.
Our women figure skaters have not yet crashed the gates of world supremacy but they have knocked at the door. In the ladies’ singles at the second Olympiad, in which there were twenty competitors, Miss Cecil Eustace Smith won fifth place and Miss Constance Wilson was sixth. Following the 1928 games Miss Wilson—now Mrs. Samuel competed at Manchester and won the British championship. She also holds the North American ladies' singles championship and with her brother. Montgomery Wilson, the North American pairs championship.
Both Miss Smith and Mrs. Samuel were selected for the Lake Placid invasion but the former has declined the honor and her place will be taken by Miss Elizabeth Fisher, a young skater of undoubted ability. Miss Mary Littlejohn will also skate as a representative of the Toronto Skating Club.
Canadian entries in the pairs competition will include Mrs. Samuel and Mr. Wilson, and Miss Frances Claudet and Chauncey Bangs and Mr. and Mrs. Melville Rogers, of the Minto Club, Ottawa.
The skiers will be particularly interested in two races, one of eighteen kilometres—approximately eleven miles— and one of fifty kilometres—close to thirty-one miles—also a jumping competition. In the running events it will be surprising if North American entrants make much impression. for the Scandinavians “ran wild” in this form of crosscountry transportation.
The ski jumpers will receive their testing on the famous Intervales hill, which is nearly 1.000 feet in length, with a jumping tower that rises 290 feet above the level at the finish. The Canadian representatives will probably be Easterners, but a Revelstoke friend tells me that the best jumpers in Canada are our “Rocky Mountaineers,” and he is confident that in a real national test the western jumpers would prove superior. Leonard Lehan and Gerald Dupuis, who represented Canada at the 1928 jumps, were unfortunate, for Lehan was injured and unable to compete, while Dupuis finished sixteenth among forty entrants.
The bobsled races are not likely to reveal serious Canadian competitions, but to the Lake Placid visitors they should prove thrilling demonstrations. These sleds are not the Continued on page 32
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frail variety used by us in our childhood [ days. Some are over eleven feet long, weigh nearly 500 pounds, and cost about $600 apiece. Before these steel-shod racers begin their wild dash down the mile and a half , slide, seven telephone control stations must rcjxort “clear track” until the final word is relayed to the starter at the top. Then, when the sled is released, it dashes dow n the mountain speedway and around the twenty-
five curves with such sensational haste that the course has been completed in one minute and fifty-two seconds, and on some of the higher curves a sioeed of sixty-five miles an hour has been attained. Thrills and spills are certain associations of bobsled racing. The Germans, Argentinians, United Statesers, and Englishmen who winter in i the Alps, are the kings in this sport world. The two demonstration sports, curling
and sled-dog racing, are not the type* to arouse thunderous applause or make the heart-beats jump with reverential fear. Nevertheless, the curlers will “draw” and the huskies will present an unusual picture as they dash across the great open spaces.
Can We Repeat in Hockey?
"CACH sport already mentioned has a loyal following among the sports fans of Canada, but the game that dominates all others is hockey. The Dominion may forfeit all other championships, yet retire with an untarnished reputation; but, if our hockey team should lose its world title, many a head would bow in sorrow. And why not? Canadian hockey teams, in international competition, have exhibited such speed and skill that they have aroused the admiration of all the world.
Back in 1920, the Winnipeg Falcons, mostly of Icelandic origin, crossed the ocean to Antwerp for the initial world test. In this first series, Canada defeated Czechoslovakia by fifteen to nothing, Sweden by twelve to one and, in the most important game, after a real struggle, overcame United States by two to nothing and thus became world’s champions.
Four years later, in the first official winter Olympic contest at Chamonix in the French Alps, on an open-air rink with the boards on the ends and sides less than twelve inches high, the Granite Club of Toronto matched their hockey ability against the skill of seven other nations. Canada, in one group, defeated Sweden by twenty-two to nothing, Switzerland thirty-three to nothing, and Czechoslovakia by thirty to nothing. Then Canada subdued Great Britain by nineteen to two, and in the final contest triumphed over the hitherto unbeaten United States team by six goals to one.
In 1928 the University of Toronto “Grads” were Canada’s chosen few at the Olympic hockey championships held in the open-air stadium at St. Moritz, Switzerland. Eleven nations sent teams, but the Swiss Committee considered the Canadian team so exceptionally superior that they divided the other ten teams into three groups, and then invited the Grads to defeat successively these three group champions before reaping Olympic honors. They won from Sweden byeleven goals, from Great Britain by fourteen goals, and from Switzerland by another margin of eleven goals. Thus the world’s title remained with Canada.
In those three sets of games, the uniformly proficient Falcons, the sturdy, tenacious Granites, the crafty, spectacular Grads have scored 175 goals while their opponents have secured but four tallies.
How long will this superiorityprevail? All the European players, according to W. A. Hewitt who has managed all three Canadian teams, are wonderful skaters and some day will offer real opposition, So far, i they have been handicapped through improper coaching and by the age of their players. Europeans, unlike Canadian lads, have not taken up hockey until they have attained manhood. In one of the early games against France, one of the French players was middle-aged and bald, while another wore a long, heavy beard. But conditions are changing. There is a boys’ school in Switzerland with an English headmaster who is so hockey conscious that in an enrolment of 236 only twelve do not play hockey. The growth of such an attitude will produce hockey teams which will really challenge Canada’s hockey supremacy.
But, for the third Olympiad. European hockey teams are still unprepared. Consequently, the only existing menace is the United States and this year that country is a ! real threat. The Yanks do not fool when i they go after sport titles. The college teams | of Harvard, Yale or Dartmouth are the equals of Canadian university teams; the spread of professional hockey has aroused the imagination and ambition of the lads who live in the colder towns and cities. Canada, therefore, dare not underestimate the United States opposition. But in our \\ innipeg team the Dominion has another of those persistent, back-checking gangs, speedy and crafty, that, while not so likely to repeat the high scores of former Canadian i teams, will be defensively equal to the best we have known.
On the afternoon of Saturday, February 13, the thoughts of hundreds of thousands of Canadians—and the ears, too. if present broadcasting plans are satisfactorily conj summated—will concentrate on the new $125,000 Lake Placid Hockey Stadium, j where the white-jerseyed Winnipeg stal-1 warts, with the red maple leaf on their breasts, will be battling for the hockey championship of the world.
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