Jeremy Wotherspoon's childhood skating coach says she can't quite put her finger on it, but for some reason the long-track speed skater wasn't his usual self yesterday at the Winter Olympics.
"I thought he looked a little nervous and uptight. It's hard to say for sure," Phyllis Loewen, 60, told the Sun from her home in Rocky Mountain House, where she watched the men's 500-metre event on TV.
"I thought he looked good in the middle of his race. He had a good start. It seems like he didn't quite have the power to finish."
Wotherspoon, among the gold-medal favourites in the event, finished a disappointing ninth.
He was a silver medallist in the 500-metre race in '98.
Loewen hopes the 29-year-old pride of Red Deer will reach the podium in the 1,000 metres, an event in which he's also expected to contend for a medal.
"He'll bounce back," Loewen said. "I think he'll be up and ready, knowing Jeremy."
Meanwhile, Zina Kocher finished 28th in the 15-kilometre individual biathlon.
The 23-year-old Red Deer native had been aiming for a top-20 finish in her Olympic debut.
"We're very proud no matter where she comes," said grandmother Sylvia Kocher. "She's wonderful."
If anything, Sylvia, 78, thinks her granddaughter peaked too early.
Kocher finished fifth in the women's 7.5-km sprint at the World Cup event in Osrblie, Slovakia, just prior to Christmas.
"I think she peaked before Christmas instead of peaking before (the Olympics)," Sylvia said, adding clean shooting is critical to having a good race.
"The shooting's usually what holds her back."
Proud grandpa Lyle Kocher, 87, said his granddaughter is trying to get all the experience she can at these Games in the hopes of medalling in 2010.
And today, Red Deer's Regan Lauscher heads into the final runs of women's singles luge competition in 10th place.
The 26-year-old was 12th in Salt Lake City.
"I know she's said it's been a tough track," sister-in-law Leah Lauscher, 27, said, referring to a terrifying crash involving a U.S. slider and several near-crashes.
"There's two more runs and anything can happen. As long as she's sliding consistent, she'll be pleased with how she places."