February 16, 2006
Gibson orders a double
Skeleton athlete expects to see pals on podium
ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

CESANA, Italy -- No matter how hard he tries, Duff Gibson can't picture a single Canadian on the podium after the Olympic skeleton race tomorrow.

Instead, he sees a pair.

"In my mind, it's more likely we'll have two Canadians than one," said Gibson, 39, one of three medal hopefuls from Calgary on Canada's men's team.

"Being on the podium is something I've dreamed about my entire life. If my dream doesn't come true, it would be a nice consolation to have one of my teammates up there."

Or, as world champion Jeff Pain suggests, all three.

"It would be awesome to have the whole team up there," Pain, 35, said.

"Our relationship is as good as possible, for sure, so that would be incredible."

A two-time defending World Cup champion who has won three of seven races this season and has finished no worse than sixth, Pain has been the sport's most explosive slider the past two years. It is his leadership that has helped Gibson and Paul Boehm keep pace with the world's best.

"We definitely have the closest team on the circuit," said Boehm, 31, who enters his first Olympics ranked fifth with two World Cup medals.

"Nobody else in the world compares track notes or goes to the lengths we do to help each other out. It helps me so much more to be around guys who have been here before and have experience winning."

Pain and Gibson both took part in the inaugural Olympic skeleton event in 2002 when they finished sixth and 10th respectively.

"I expect more now -- I'm four years older, four years wiser and four years better," said Pain, who has been the most consistent slider in the six training heats to date.

"In Salt Lake City, I went home for a bit after the opening ceremony to train. Being here the whole time has helped me stay immersed in the energy."

Favouring the Canadian trio is the fact that the 1,435-metre track is a technical one.

"The course requires maximum steering," said 14th-ranked Gibson.