Canadian Athletes on the World Stage
PyeongChang 2018 will be an Olympics to remember for many young Canadians
Jonfranco Monaco – STAFF WRITER
Ben Denomme – SPORTS EDITOR
This coming February, viewers should keep their eyes open for a number of stellar Canadian athletes who will be showcasing their talent at the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang.
Figure Skating — Begins February 12
Our Canadian figure skaters seek to hit the ground, running — or rather, hit the “ice, skating” in a few weeks. Almost a year ago at the 2017 World Figure Skating Championships in Helsinki, Finland, our Canadian ice dancers were able to qualify a whopping 17 total athletes to compete in the Winter Games. In addition to this, two of our most prized figure skaters on the team this year, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were named flag bearers for our country, mast-heading not only their fellow skaters, but all their fellow athletes at the opening ceremonies. Canada qualified skaters across all single and paired events and has the most number of figure skating athletes from a single nation to compete in PyeongChang this February. It goes without saying that the Canadian figure skating team looks to continue its stellar performance from Helsinki and bring some medals home.
Curling — Begins February 13
Names like Rachel Homan, Joanne Courtney, Kevin Koe, and Ben Hebert are just a few of the 12 athletes competing in the curling competitions. Sweeping the ice like it’s their day job (which it is), Canada is tied with South Korea for the largest number of athletes competing in the curling event this coming February. With the men’s, women’s, and a mixed event team, the curling event is one that viewers won’t want to miss.
Biathlon — Begins February 10
Canada qualified five men and five women for the biathlon event in the upcoming winter games. These arctic machines will be performing a mix of cross-country skiing and target shooting over a 20 kilometre course. The winter biathlon is seriously one of the most grueling events, testing both stamina and accuracy. The biathlon is a must-watch event. Even if you’re not a devout follower of the sport, the sheer test of stamina alone (in the cold weather, might I add) is enough to make even the most conditioned athletes burn out. Undoubtedly, our Canadians will not let us down.
Cross-Country Skiing — Begins February 10
Qualifying eight athletes, Canada seeks to contend with the cross-country skiing greats in PyeongChang: Italy, Finland, and France. With events ranging in distance from a 15 kilometre sprint to a 50 kilometre classic, cross-country skiing is definitely a sport you don’t want to miss. Some big names to look out for this February are Alex Harvey, Amanda Ammar, and Beckie Scott.
Bobsleigh — Begins February 18
There will be three total bobsleigh events held in PyeongChang this year: the two-man run, the two-woman run, and the four-man run. With 18 athletes competing in this event, Canada ties Germany for the most bobsleigh contenders. Some big names to look out for in this event are Chris le Bihan, Bryan Barnett, and Chelsea Valois.
Men’s Hockey — Begins February 10
The 2018 Olympics marks the first time in 24 years that current NHL players will not participate. As a result, the men’s hockey roster may be full of many unfamiliar faces. With an average age of 31, the players consist of past NHLers, as well as current Canadians in the Russian, Swedish, Swiss, German, Austrian, and American development leagues. The team has over 5,000 games of combined NHL experience, but many sports writers question whether this experience will be useful in this competition.
Toronto native and NHL veteran Chris Kelly will provide productive offence for Canada, along with notable goal-scorer, Derek Roy. 37-year-old Chris Lee will round out the defence and is no stranger to tense games, as he helped the Canadians win silver at the World Championships in 2017. In goal, Justin Peters should be effective, considering his history with the Carolina Hurricanes. The men’s hockey roster is full of great players so our Olympic gold hopes are high.
Women’s Hockey — Begins February 10
Sochi 2014 was a huge year for the Canadian women, winning gold in overtime with a 3–2 win over the United States. Even more impressive was that the gold won in Sochi was the fourth title in as many Olympics won by Team Canada. 14 players from the 2014 team are returning in 2018, including national hero Marie-Philip Poulin, who scored the deciding goal four years ago.
Shannon Szabados will be solid in net as she has been in the past two Olympic competitions, averaging less than one goal allowed per game. Meaghan Mikkelson will support Szabados on defence, along with Jocelyne Larocque, Lauriane Rougeau, and Laura Fortino. Poulin will be accompanied by big names like Meghan Agosta and Sarah Nurse on offence. Winning a fifth straight Olympic gold medal would be a shining display of the dominance Canada has on the ice.
Luge — Begins February 10
Veteran luge athletes Tristan Walker and Justin Snith make up the Canadian men’s doubles team, and are joined by Alex Gough and Sam Edney for the team relay. Walker and Snith barely missed the podium in 2014 and posted a best-ever time in Canada. The relay team also took fourth place in 2014.
Singles luge athletes Mitchel Malyk, Reid Watts, Kimberley McRae, and Brooke Apshkrum will look to either improve upon or make a name for themselves in 2018. At only 18, Apshkrum is expected to place well, considering her gold medal win at the 2016 Youth Olympics.
Short-Track Speed Skating — Begins February 10
It is a difficult thing to write about Canadian short track speed skating without mentioning the Hamelin brothers. Charles and his brother Franҫois are a force in the speed skating world. Charles won gold in 2014 in the 1500-metre. He also won gold in 2010 in both the 500-metre and 5000-metre race. François won gold in 2010 in the 5000-metre relay.
The Hamelin brothers are not the only decorated Canadian short track speed skaters though, as Marianne St-Gelais has won three silvers combined from the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Games. She will look to win gold this year along with another silver teammate, Valérie Maltais. Charle Cournoyer (bronze, 2014) and Olivier Jean (gold, 2010) will also look to tack on a few more medals.
Snowboard — Begins February 10
Canadian snowboarding is full of superstars, with names like Mark McMorris, Sebastien Toutant, Max Parrot, Brooke Voigt, and Laurie Blouin. As such, it is possible that the podium will be speckled with Canadian athletes. McMorris will look to improve on his bronze in 2014, while Toutant will look to step on the podium. Blouin will look to make her entrance into the
Olympics an impressive one, coming off a gold medal in slopestyle at the 2017 FIS World Championships.
Long-Track Speed Skating — Begins February 10
Denny Morrison will look to add more medals to his four, hopefully attaining gold in individual competition. Other members of the long-track speed skating team who will compete to earn a spot on the podium include: Gilmore Junio, Brianne Tutt, Kali Christ, and Marsha Hudey. The long-track speed skating team is full of young faces so it will be interesting to look at how these athletes compete on the world stage.