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Canada Olympic Speedskating 2014: Breaking Down Top Medal Contenders

Christine Nesbitt will represent Canada as a member of the Canadian Olympic team in long track speed skating at the Sochi 2014 Olympics. Nesbitt was photographed during a COC Olympic Summit at the Sheraton Wall Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia, Monday, May 13, 2013. Photos were taken using a slow shutter speed. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jimmy Jeong)
JIMMY JEONG/Associated Press
Jesse ReedCorrespondent IFebruary 5, 2014

Canadian speedskaters have brought home 33 Winter Olympics medals, and they're traditionally among the favorites every four years.

Christine Nesbitt and Denny Morrison both won gold medals as part of a five-medal contingency in 2010. They lead the team into these upcoming 2014 Winter Games, but expectations for this year's team aren't as high as they've been in years past. 

With the rise of a strong American team, along with the ever-present German and Dutch teams, Canada will be hard-pressed to bring home multiple medals—if any at all. 

That doesn't mean this team isn't capable of getting the job done, however. Here's a look at the athletes with the best chance of earning a podium finish in the 2014 Winter Games. 

 

Christine Nesbitt

It will be a challenge for Nesbitt to match her gold-medal performance from 2010 in these upcoming Games. 

This will be her third Olympics, and she's battled through celiac disease to get here. As described by The Canada Press, "sufferers don't absorb nutrients well and can get sick from the gluten found in wheat, rye and barley."

Needless to day, Nesbitt made some drastic changes, and she's still struggling to get into competition shape. 

CALGARY, CANADA - NOVEMBER 09: Christine Nesbitt of Canada competes in the women's 500 meter race during the ISU World Cup Speed Skating event November 9, 2013 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Todd Korol/Getty Images)
Todd Korol/Getty Images

"It needs to progress quickly, but I think that's happening and I've still got time," Nesbitt said. "I'm a very competitive skater and I skate well usually when I need to so that gives me confidence that I can do something special at these games -- or maybe a few special things."

Combined with the emergence of Americans Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe—the No. 1 and No. 2 skaters in the world in the 1,000-meter race—and Ireen Wust of the Netherlands, Nesbitt has her work cut out for her. 

 

Denny Morrison

Denny Morrison, like Nesbitt, is attending his third Games in a row, having won bronze in 2006 and gold in 2010 in the team pursuit. 

He's a middle-distance specialist who at one time had the world record in the 1,500-meter race, and he won a gold medal in the same event during the 2008 and 2012 World Championships. 

Making things difficult this time around, American Shani Davis is just one of many who'll give Morrison a run for his money during the 2014 Winter Games. 

 

Brittany Schussler

Brittany Schussler will have a shot at earning a medal in the 1,500-meter race. She's finished on the podium five previous times during World Cup events, and this will be her second competitive Olympics appearance. 

After a disastrous experience in 2010, Schussler hopes for a different result this time around. 

“The field in the women’s 1,500 is so close these days," she said, via Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun. "It’s important to stay focused and not be complacent with one World Cup medal, or thinking I’ve got it all figured out because I won that one medal.”

She'll need to be on top of her game, both on the ice and in her own head, in order to finish ahead of the loaded field in the upcoming 1,500-meter race. 

 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78 

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