Great Scott! Beckie looks for more gold

STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

When everything was going Beckie Scott's way, after finally being awarded her Olympic gold medal, after a terrific season following Salt Lake City, the last thing she ever expected occured.

She hit an emotional wall. Nothing in her career ever seems to come without some upheaval.

"I started questioning everything," the Canadian cross country ski sensation said. "I was questioning my desire and motivation. I'd become tired of racing, tired of competing and training.

"I just wanted to quit."

And in a way, she did. Scott, from Vegreville, Alta., took five months off two years ago with the intention of retiring from world class competition.

"For a while, I hated the sport and thought it was ridiculous. But more than anything, I just needed the break. It was a really important journey for me to go through, just getting away.

"The whole experience took me to a different place. I decided then that I'm not going to stress about this life. I just wanted to compete for myself and had to get back to that. So I gravitated back to the sport and I came to realize I wasn't really ready to say goodbye."

She would like to say hello again at the Turin Olympics and, if recent performances are any indication, Scott should be a factor in the cross country events she best describes as "downhill skiing, minus the fun." She is the first Canadian to ever win an Olympic medal in cross country and what began as bronze in Salt Lake ended up in gold after an elongated battle when the first two finishers were done in by a drug lab.

This will be the third Olympic Games for Scott, who turns 32 in early January. In Nagano in 1998, she finished so far back you could barely find her name on a finish list. "I was never so discouraged," she said. "After Nagano, those were the hardest days of my career."

The experience of Salt Lake was both exhilarating and frustrating. She won her medal in the five-kilometre free pursuit and almost immediately accused the winners of cheating.

Ironically, Dick Pound - the same Dick Pound who accused a percentage of NHL players of being on drugs without substantial evidence - criticized Scott's stance on the grounds she had no evidence.

But she was proven right: even if it took significant time for her to get the right colour of medal.

Since the controversy, Scott has agreed to join the World Anti-Doping Agency's athlete committee. And now comes Turin and with it comes rather large expectations. She will be an athlete Canadians centre on at the Games. Another podium finish is not out of the question.

Woman to beat: Marit Bjoergen of Norway is currently ranked first in both the distance and sprint events on the World Cup circuit. Scott ranks fifth in distance in the World Cup and seventh in sprint events.


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