Brits grumble about home advantage

British skeleton performance director Andi Schmid fears the thorny issue of abusing home advantage at the Winter Games will run and run unless the International Olympic Committee step in.


More than £65 million has been poured into Canada's 'Own the Podium' initiative to ensure Canada do not fail to win a gold medal at a home Olympics for the third time, having settled for a combined total of seven silvers and nine bronzes from Montreal 1976 and Calgary 1988.

Millions more have been put into project 'Top Secret', a clandestine operation designed to give Canadian athletes a scientific edge over the competition.

Canada have also set about exploiting home advantage to the full and have restricted overseas nations to the minimum practice time permitted by international governing bodies in various sports.

Russia is one nation that have received favourable treatment by the Vancouver organising committee however, presumably in the hope they will return the favour ahead of Sochi 2014.

And Schmid is far from surprised.

"I get asked a lot whether we have had enough time on the Whistler track and I always give the same answer which is 'no'," said Schmid, who will lead the British quartet that features Olympic silver medallist Shelley Rudman (pictured), in Vancouver.

"We and other nations haven't had enough time to be really well prepared. Everybody had 40 runs and we will have another six going into the Games but I'm expecting the Canadians to have 300 to 400 runs.

"I don't really want to talk about it anymore. We have to deal with it and we deal with it as a team.

"During the summer when we had the BOA trip to Canada - they tried to create some pressure on the Vanoc system but it comes to a point where we must just forget it now.

"We have had those 40 runs, we are always good at adjusting to different tracks. We have to be because we don't have our own ice track so it is just normal that we have to go on a track adjust and be successful.

"Don't ask me who is responsible for it in Vancouver - it is the Olympics and I don't think there is an Olympic charter regarding home advantage it is simply about fairness to everybody - so this home advantage is going to be there all the time.

"Sochi will be another new track that we will have to learn and get used to but Sochi will be the same as Vancouver - I am expecting nothing different, it is Russia and it will be similar."

Last year, the BOA felt compelled to take their case to the IOC when Canadian officials prevented them from position cameras at certain places at the curling venue.

While BOA performance chief Sir Clive Woodward stated his belief that Canada have overstepped the line and are not in-keeping with the Olympic spirit earlier this month.

Gaining the upper hand may be one thing but with regards to skeleton, additional safety factors come into play.

BOA performance manager for winter sports Mike Hay has been keen to point out the dangers of taking to an unfamiliar track and Schmid was quick to echo those sentiments.

"I am for sure not happy and whoever is responsible in the future Vanoc, the IOC, or the FIBT (the world governing body) need to be aware that skeleton is a high speed sport," he added.

"It has some kind of danger in it and I do not want something to happen to the sliders out there."

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