Winter is coming… to a Canadian city near you
It’s that time of year when Canada’s elite winter athletes are getting set to jet off to Europe, Asia and elsewhere around the globe to compete on their respective World Cup circuits.
But many of those athletes will also get the chance to compete at home as Canada plays host to some marquee international events. So if you’re looking for somewhere to wear those Red Mittens proudly, here are some suggestions:
October 30-November 1: Skate Canada International (Lethbridge, Alberta) and ISU Short Track Speed Skating World Cup (Montreal, Quebec)
Athletes on very different blades will be looking to scare up some medals on Halloween weekend. While Canada’s top figure skaters (including three-time world champion Patrick Chan making a comeback after a year off as well as reigning world pair champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford) are competing at the second of six stops on the ISU Grand Prix circuit, the short trackers are at the first of two straight World Cup stops on home ice.
November 6-8: ISU Short Track Speed Skating World Cup (Toronto, Ontario)
Olympic medallists Charles Hamelin, Marianne St-Gelais and Valérie Maltais will lead the Canadian team down the 401 for the second World Cup stop of the season before the circuit heads to Asia in December.
November 13-15: ISU Speed Skating World Cup (Calgary, Alberta)
The long track World Cup season kicks off at the Olympic Oval, before heading to Salt Lake City and then across the Atlantic Ocean. The selection trials to see who will make up the Canadian team are also in Calgary, October 22-25.
November 28-29 and December 4-6: FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup (Lake Louise, Alberta)
The name says it all. The Lake Louise Winterstart World Cup is the season opener for the speed racers. The men tackle the downhill and super-G first before the women arrive a week later for two downhills and a super-G. Last year, the Canadian efforts were highlighted by Manuel Osborne-Paradis’ silver in the downhill and Larisa Yurkiw’s fourth place finish in the downhill. Canada’s only annual stop on the elite alpine circuit touts itself as the second-highest internationally televised sporting event hosted in Canada, behind Formula 1’s Canadian Grand Prix.
December 18-19: FIL Luge World Cup (Calgary, Alberta)
Nearing the midway mark of the World Cup season, this stop concludes the North American part of the circuit, which also took the lugers to Lake Placid and Park City. Last year on this track, Sam Edney won gold, Alex Gough won silver while Arianne Jones won bronze and doubles tandem Tristan Walker and Justin Snith won bronze
January 18-23: FIBT Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Cup (Whistler, British Columbia)
The Whistler Sliding Centre last hosted a World Cup event in November 2012. This stop comes one week after the circuit hit the 2002 Olympic track at Park City, Utah where Priscilla Lopes-Schliep is hopeful of making her international debut as a bobsleigh brakeman for two-time Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries.
January 22-23: FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup – Ski Cross (Nakiska, Alberta) and FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup – Moguls (Val St-Côme, Quebec)
Too bad it’s impossible to be in two places at once. If you’re in the west, you can catch the Canadian ski cross team, led by Olympic medallists Marielle Thompson and Kelsey Serwa, at their only home World Cup stop of the season at the venue that hosted the Olympic alpine events in 1988. If you’re in the east, you can see the likes of Mikaël Kingsbury and the Dufour–Lapointe sisters compete as close to home as they can get when they hit the hills just 120km north of Montreal.
January 30: FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup – Moguls (Calgary, Alberta)
From Quebec the moguls circuit travels to Calgary for a second straight week of competition on Canadian snow.
February 4-7: IBU Biathlon World Cup (Canmore, Alberta)
After last year’s history-making season in which Nathan Smith’s sprint silver made him the first male Canadian biathlete to win a world championship medal, it’s time for home snow advantage for the squad of rising stars. The 1988 Olympic venue hosted a second tier IBU Cup event last season as a prerequisite to hosting a World Cup. This will be the first major elite international biathlon competition in Canada since the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
March 1-12: FIS Cross-Country World Cup (Ski Tour Canada)
The cross-country World Cup season concludes with the inaugural Ski Tour Canada, featuring eight races in four Canadian venues. The first week has four stages in three Quebec cities before the second week sees the tour travel to Canmore.
The opening stage is a downtown sprint event to be staged in Jacques Cartier Park in Gatineau on March 1, with the spectacular backdrop of Parliament Hill. The second stage, a mass start classic race, will take place in Montreal at Mont Royal on March 2. The third and fourth stages both take place in Quebec City, with a sprint event on March 4 and a pursuit race on March 5, adjacent to the Plains of Abraham.
The final four stages on March 8, 9, 11 and 12 feature sprint, skiathlon, interval start and pursuit races in Canmore.
This will be the pinnacle of the 2015-16 season, which does not include a major championship on the schedule, such as the Olympic Games or world championships. Usually, the end of the cross-country season is capped by marquee events in Scandinavia, including the World Cup Finals, so this event is a coup for Canada.
March 19-27: World Women’s Curling Championship (Swift Current, Saskatchewan)
This year it’s the Canadian women’s turn to go for world gold on home ice. Team Canada will be decided at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in late February in Grande Prairie, Alberta.
March 28-April 4: IIHF Women’s World Championship (Kamloops, British Columbia)
Team Canada will be looking for its first women’s world ice hockey gold medal since 2012 and its first on home ice since 2007 when the tournament was held in Winnipeg.