5 Team Canada sports to watch this weekend: September 29 – October 2
Keep your eyes on Team Canada this weekend!
Canada’s top gymnasts will take on the world at the 2023 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships, while Canadian volleyball players are in action indoors on the court and outside on the sand. On the trails, Canadian mountain bikers will be racing at the penultimate UCI Mountain Bike World Cup stop.
Here’s what you don’t want to miss:
Team Canada gymnasts are in Antwerp, Belgium to compete at the 2023 FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships, which are taking place September 30-October 8. The competition will feature 450 athletes from 74 countries.
The women’s team of Ellie Black, Aurélie Tran, Ava Stewart, Cassie Lee, and Rose Woo (supported by alternate Frédérique Sgarbossa) will seek to build on last year’s success, which saw the Canadian women secure a team bronze medal and their qualification for Paris 2024. At the 2022 World Championships, Black also grabbed an individual silver medal on the balance beam.
The men’s team of Zachary Clay, Félix Dolci, William Émard, René Cournoyer, and Jayson Rampersad (supported by alternate Yanni Chronopoulos) are still in pursuit of the Olympic qualification. The Canadian men need to be among the top nine teams in the qualification round (not counting China, Japan, and Great Britain who are already qualified) to earn Olympic spots for a full men’s team of five gymnasts. Cournoyer competed at Tokyo 2020 as an individual and has his sights set on returning to the Olympics with some teammates.
The competition will be streamed via CBC sports.
It’s now the turn of the Canadian men’s volleyball team to begin their Olympic Qualification Tournament, just days after the conclusion of the women’s equivalent. The Canadians enter action this Saturday in the hopes of earning their spot at Paris 2024.
Three round robin tournaments are taking place simultaneously in China, Japan, and Brazil with a total of six Olympic qualification places at stake. These places will be awarded to the top two teams in the standings in each of the three tournaments.
The Canadians play in Group C, with matches taking place in Xi’an, China. Canada kicks off the tournament very early on Saturday against the Netherlands, 1:00 a.m. ET, before returning for a 10:00 p.m. ET match against Argentina. Those will be followed by games against Poland (October 3), China (October 4), Bulgaria (October 5), Belgium (October 6) and Mexico (October 8).
Canada is currently ranked 13th in the world. Three countries in Canada’s group are ranked higher: Poland (No.1), Argentina (No. 6) and the Netherlands (No. 10). The other four teams Canada will face are outside the top 20.
Canada has taken part in the men’s Olympic volleyball tournaments at the last two editions of the Games.
The iconic Roland-Garros hosts a Beach Pro Tour Elite 16 tournament this weekend. The Paris tournament is the eighth stop on beach volleyball’s most prestigious competition circuit in 2023.
Melissa Humana-Paredes and Brandie Wilkerson will be looking to add another Elite 16 podium finish to their record of achievements, having won gold in Montreal at the end of July and bronze in Ostrava at the beginning of June. The Canadian duo, in their first season together, are currently ranked seventh in the world.
The round robin takes place on Thursday and Friday. The top team in each group advances directly to the quarterfinals, while the teams finishing second and third in their groups take part in a Round of 12 match. The quarterfinals and semifinals take place on Saturday, while the gold and bronze finals are scheduled for Sunday.
The matches are available to stream on CBC Sports.
The penultimate event of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup is taking place September 28 to October 1 in Snowshoe, West Virginia. There are 20 Canadians entered, including 18 competing in the cross-country Olympic discipline. That features a mass start of athletes racing a set number of laps on a track featuring obstacles that require them to demonstrate skills in both ascent and descent.
Among those athletes are Gunnar Holmgren, Carter Woods and Jenn Jackson, who will go on to compete at the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile. Woods is the highest-ranked of the Canadians. Still just 22, he is eligible for the U23 category in which he has three podium finishes so far this season
Short-track speed skating
It’s the start of the competitive short track speed skating season! Before taking on the world’s elite, Canadian skaters will compete at the 2023 Canadian Short Track Championships in Montreal in the hope of capturing national titles and being selected to represent Canada on the World Cup circuit this fall.
National team regulars Courtney Sarault, Kim Boutin, Claudia Gagnon, Rikki Doak and Renée Steenge on the women’s side and Steven Dubois, Pascal Dion, Maxime Laoun and Jordan Pierre-Gilles in the men’s events will be on the ice this weekend.
In addition to these headliners, long track mass start specialist and Olympic medalist Ivanie Blondin will be making her return to short track 13 years after switching disciplines. This weekend, the 33-year-old aims to gain experience and see where her training stands, but the medium-term goal is to take part in short-track World Cups next season, with a view to participating in the 2026 Olympic Games in both speed skating disciplines.
Montreal will host the first two World Cups of the season from October 20 to 22 and October 27 to 29.