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Nesbitt wins, captures Canada's imagination

Fourth-Place Medal

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Seven reasons, among many, to be ecstatic about Canadian speedskater Christine Nesbitt winning the country's third gold medal with her two hundredths of a second win over the Netherlands' Annette Gerritsen Thursday afternoon.

1. There's more where that came from. Nesbitt is a favorite to also win the women's 1,500. Bodog has her at 7-4 odds, with teammate Kristina Groves at 3-2.

2. She's her own worst critic. How do you get better at something? By being honest and unmerciful with yourself. Even in victory, Nesbitt said, "Today I didn't have a great race." That is from a skater who struggled in her early years, until she turned her harsh self-analysis into positive energy.

She went from self-doubt and struggling (14th in the 1,000 at Turin) to being cold-blooded: "Why should I feel any more pressure than I felt in the fall trying to win back-to-back 1,000s, which I was able to do? If anything, a Canadian crowd gives me more support."

3. She's honest: Nesbitt told the Winnipeg Sun columnist Paul Friesen following the previous night's 500 that she would like to see a ban on the "kick" tactic, in which skaters "stick out a foot just as they reach the finish line, trying to 'cheat' the photo finish." It often gouges a nick in the ice.

She did it in the 500, but expressed shame afterward: "I know I’m being a bit hypocritical, because I just did it in that race. ... But I’m hoping it’s banned. It’s just unsafe and it causes unnecessary delays."

4. Her coach called it long ago: A little Googling turns up a CBC Sports profile from 2007 where Canadian coach Marcel Lacroix said, "If Christine focused only on the races that [German star] Anni [Friesinger] specializes in [the 1,000 and the 1,500], she would probably be better than Anni." That turned out to be prophetic.

5. Five-for-five: She ran the table, four wins in a row on the World Cup circuit, now a gold in front of her parents, Judith and Wayne, the latter of whom is a professor at the University of Western Ontario.

6. She turned adversity into opportunity. Coming out of high school in 2003, Nesbitt applied to study engineering at McGill. She didn't receive an offer of admission, so she enrolled at the University of Calgary, switched from short to long track, and her path to the podium began.

7. Rod Smith called a gold medal. Whoever had the call of Canada's first gold medal of the Games largely came down to scheduling. Jamie Campbell had the honor of calling the first two. It's safe to say most people really wanted the more veteran Smith to call one in the unmistakable baritone a generation has grown up hearing on TSN.

Nesbitt was in the penultimate pairing. With Kristina Groves in the last pair, Smith did a great job of explaining that Groves being first across the finish line would signify that Canada had the gold, regardless of time. It sounds elemental, but it's important for those of us who don't watch these sports all the time.

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