Some developments to follow as winter sports season looms
If it’s possible to write about the coming of winter without a cheeky Game of Thrones reference, then it’s probably best to stick with Canadian athletes.
Once the cold weather sets in and February arrives, it’ll be just two years to the next Olympic Winter Games. For many, Sochi 2014 seems like yesterday, but as each page of the calendar turns, Canada’s exploits in Russia begin to fade in memory while anticipation of PyeongChang 2018 grows for those who do their business with sleds, skates, skis, snowboards and brooms.
A few Team Canada winter developments to keep in mind this season:
Double Olympic women’s bobsleigh champion Kaillie Humphries is out to make it three in a row in 2018 when the Games head to South Korea. After winning gold twice with brakeman Heather Moyse, Humphries has teamed up with powerful hurdler Priscilla Lopes-Schliep well ahead of PyeongChang. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of times Humphries registers with the Olympic medallist in hurdles. Lopes-Schliep found her way to an Olympic podium at Beijing 2008.
Sochi 2014 silver medallist Patrick Chan didn’t skate competitively last season, and is scheduled to make his comeback this fall on Canadian ice in Lethbridge, Alberta. Olympic.ca will be there to report on Chan’s return, along with the form of world pair champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford when the figure skating world arrives at Skate Canada International.
King of the hills
Mikael Kingsbury enters the moguls season as the most dominant athlete in his sport. When the Sochi Olympic silver medallist wins his next World Cup event, he will become the all-time leader in wins. The 23-year-old is the four-time defending FIS overall World Cup title holder in men’s moguls. Kingsbury is part of a world class team with several top moguls skiers, including women’s Olympic champion Justine Dufour-Lapointe.
Skiing to stardom
Last season saw major breakthroughs in various disciplines, showing Canada’s skiers to be capable of making gains across the board. In alpine skiing, Dustin Cook took a pair of World Cup podiums and the world championship silver in super-G.
Biathlete Nathan Smith won his first career World Cup gold in 2015 and became the only Canadian male to win a world championship medal in his sport.
The always formidable Alex Harvey grabbed a pair of cross-country medals at the world championships in 2015, landing him major headlines as the first Canadian to accomplish this feat.
All three athletes thrilled Canadians by reaching new personal or national heights in 2015. It’ll be curious to see how their follow-up season stacks up, and who else may surprise this season.
Snowboarder Mark McMorris dominated the 2015 Winter X Games taking top honours in slopestyle and big air. Canadians won a total of six gold medals, including one for McMorris’ fellow Olympian Kevin Hill in men’s boarder cross.
When the X Games begin in Aspen at the end of January 2016, there will be several Canadians to appreciate. That list will hopefully include Olympic skicross champion Marielle Thompson, who missed most of last season to injury, but her potential comeback is coupled with a return of her event at the X Games for the first time since 2012.
Will they or won’t they?
Talks will continue between the National Hockey League, International Ice Hockey Federation and the International Olympic Committee for the availability of the world’s best professional players at the next two Winter Games of PyeongChang 2018 and Beijing 2022. The NHL is instituting its own World Cup with just over a handful of countries in late summer 2016. Top NHL players have overwhelmingly said they want to represent their country at the Olympics. Team owners opting for a large pay-day with the World Cup are less enthused about the Olympics, to put it mildly.
These are just a few stories that’ll develop throughout the 2015-16 winter season and some will go well into the spring. Olympic.ca will be previewing winter sports and athletes to keep an eye on this season throughout the month of October with competition updates on the site in the months ahead.