Bean ready to sprout

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 1:59 PM ET

Ask Jeff Bean about his goals for the Turin Olympics, and the answer is anything but typically Canadian.

Turning in a personal best performance, treating it like just another competition ... you won't catch the 28-year-old freestyle skier from Ottawa subscribing to any of those cliches.

"I'm going there to win ... I have to think that way to be successful," said Bean down the line from Quebec City, when the Canadian aerials team (a.k.a. the Canadian Air Force) is hard at work training for the meat of the World Cup season. "That's why I'm in the water on Oct. 7 in northern Quebec, training hard.

"That's the plan. I'm going there to win."

And while Bean won't line up in the starting chute with thoughts of Olympic gold on his mind, he knows exactly what's on the line. An ordinary day, it isn't, he'll tell you emphatically.

"I hear a lot of athletes say they're going to try to treat it like it's just another event," said Bean. "That's B.S. You can't do that. It's the Olympics.

"Normally, when you're an amateur athlete, you're competing in front of 500 people. (At the Olympics) you're in front of 20,000. The Olympics is a different animal altogether."

While Bean hasn't officially secured a ticket to his third straight Olympics -- that'll be determined by World Cup results in the months before the Games -- he's already made sure his family has theirs. He recently completed the arrangements for 13 family members, including wife Lindsay and both their parents, to be in Turin in February for the men's aerials competition.

Bean is confident he'll be there to give them the best show possible. Canada will select its team based on international results in the two seasons leading into the Games -- the best two from 2004-05 and this year. Bean is carrying forward a pair of seconds, from the Lake Placid World Cup and the season-ending world championships. The latter result suggests Bean is on an upward slope as the Olympics draw ever closer. World champion Steve Omischl of North Bay has already secured his spot on the team, but three berths remain up for grabs.

"I'm in a pretty good spot," said Bean about the Turin qualifying process. "There's four of us fighting for three (Olympic) spots, but it's looking good for me. I'm feeling confident."

So are a lot of folks involved with his sport and the Canadian Olympic team. Bean was in Montreal on Thursday to help launch the Canadian Olympic School Program, an online initiative which connects information about the Games and Canadian athletes to the school curriculum in a variety of ways. Bean's own story is part of the class plan.

"It's an interesting program," he said. "I really enjoy being a part of it."

Also this week, Canada Post announced it will feature Canadian freestyle ski and speed skating team members (it sponsors both) on Xpresspost pre-paid envelopes from now through the Olympics. Meaning you just might see Bean's smiling face on something you mail out over the next few months.

"It's one of the coolest things ever. Now I've got to think of more things to send out," Bean said with a laugh.

Count on it being -- like the Olympics itself -- some kind of special delivery.

PADDLE POWER: Canada's sprint canoe/kayak team will again have a strong local presence next year. Current Ottawa resident and Athens Games gold medallist Adam van Koeverden heads the men's kayak team for 2006 along with fellow Olympians Ryan Cuthbert of Carleton Place and Andrew Willows of Gananoque. They're joined by Rhys Hill and Angus Mortimer of Ottawa. The women's kayak squad includes Ottawa's Kristin Gauthier and Victoria Tuttle of Carleton Place. Ian Mortimer of Ottawa has been named to the men's sprint canoe team. The Canadian sprint paddlers wrapped up a strong 2005 season by winning six medals at the world championships in Croatia in August.

WATER WORLD: Canada's team at the men's world junior water polo championships in Mar del Plata, Argentina includes three athletes from the capital region. Gatineau's Dusko Dakic and Bojan Glisic, and Marc-Antoine Tanguay of Ottawa are taking part in the 10-day tourney, which ends Saturday. At 16, Dakic is eligible for two more world juniors.

AROUND THE AMATEUR SCENE: Ottawa pro skateboarder Claude Regnier won the giant slalom and finished second in hybrid slalom at the Farm Finale held last weekend at Mt. Ball Dam in Jamaica, Vt. ... Whitewater paddlers Julian and Sara Potvin-Bernal of Chelsea were each awarded $3,000 Hydro-Quebec scholarships this week to assist in their training.

rob.brodie@ott.sunpub.com


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