Looking at Canada’s Record-Breaking Winter Games

Sports: 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang

From the history-making luge team to comeback kid Mark McMorris, Canada has had a Games to remember — and it could get even better during the last week of competition

By Bev Wake

There have been moments, during these 2018 Winter Olympics, that should stay with us for a while.

There was Sam Edney, unable to control his tears after winning a silver medal in the luge team relay. Those were more than tears of happiness after the heartbreak of Sochi, where the team had three fourth-place finishes. They were tears of validation, of discovering good guys sometimes win after all and hard work can pay off.

It had only been a couple of weeks since Edney, Alex Gough, Justin Snith and Tristan Walker learned that their fourth-place relay finish in Sochi — which late last year had been upgraded to bronze due to Russian doping — would stay a fourth after all, thanks to a ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. And now they had their silver medal and Gough had a bronze from the women’s race, too.

There was Mark McMorris, staring at the bronze medal he won in snowboard slopestyle. Sure, he’d had a chance to win gold or silver. But there was no regret in the way he looked at that medal, which came less than a year after he almost died during a horrific back-country snowboarding accident in Whistler. Afterwards, in a tweet accompanied by side-by-side photos of him in hospital and on the podium, his message was simple: “Thank You Life.”

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford at the pairs figure skating medal ceremony. Photo: Jason Ransom/COC

There was Laurie Blouin, with a black eye from a crash during slopestyle training, beaming with a silver medal around her neck. Ted-Jan Bloeman, a Canadian via Netherlands, in shock after beating Dutch great Sven Kramer to win 10,000-metre gold. Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford winning a bronze in pairs figure skating, after so many years of fighting to do it, so many years of not giving up.

And Mikael Kingsbury, who’d won everything but Olympic gold in his already legendary moguls career, reaching that top step of the podium — and then a few days later, baring his chest with his moguls teammates in the freezing cold hills to cheer Alex Beaulieu-Marchand to bronze in the men’s ski slopestyle final.

It’s been fun so far, right?

Of course, part of the fun has come from seeing so many Canadians win medals. With 16 in hand as of Sunday night — five gold, five silver and six bronze — the country is on track to top the 26 won in Vancouver in 2010, a Canadian record.

Sure there have been some disappointments. Rachel Homan could still leave South Korea with a medal, but few would have guessed she would have struggled so badly to start the women’s curling tournament. Speed skater Ivanie Blondin just missed the podium in the gruelling 3,000 and 5,000-metre races. Olivier Rochon was brilliant in the first two aerials finals, then dropped to fifth in the crucial third event. And wouldn’t we all have liked to see speed skater Denny Morrison make the podium after coming back from a motorcycle crash and a stroke?

But this is a deep, talented team and there’s no reason to believe the stories written during the last week of the Olympics won’t be as inspiring as those we’ve already seen.

Here’s a look at the big events — from a Canadian perspective — still to come:

MONDAY MORNING

Bobsleigh: Men’s Two-Man Finals, Heats 3 and 4

When: 6:15-9 a.m. ET/3:15-6 a.m. PT

go Why you should watch: Canada has an excellent chance at making the podium in this event, with Justin Kripps in second-place after the first two runs. Kripps, the silver medallist at the 2017 world championships, won the overall title on the World Cup this season, where his worst finish was fourth.

Hockey: Women’s Semifinals

When: 7:10-9:30 a.m. ET/4:10-6:30 a.m. PT

follow url Why you should watch: It’s Canada vs. the Olympic Athletes from Russia with an all-important berth in the final on the line. The U.S. beat Finland in the other semifinal.

MONDAY NIGHT

Figure Skating: Ice Dance Free Skate

When: 8-11:45 p.m. ET/5-8:45 p.m. PT

follow url Why you should watch: Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir will try to win a third Olympic gold medal, following wins in ice dance in 2010 and the team event in PyeongChang. They’re off to a strong start, setting a world record in the short program with a score of 83.67. They lead the French team of Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron by 1.74 points heading into the free skate.

Freestyle: Women’s Ski Halfpipe Final

When: 8:30-9:55 p.m. ET/5:30-6:55 PT

Why you should watch: Cassie Sharp was first in qualifying — with the two biggest scores of the day — and will try to match that ranking over the course of the three-run final. She won bronze in ski superpipe at the 2018 Winter X Games last month and arrived in PyeongChang at No. 2 in the AFP world rankings.

EARLY TUESDAY MORNING

Short Track: Women’s 3,000-Metre Relay Final

When: 5-7 a.m. ET/2-4 a.m. PT

Why you should watch: Canada hasn’t missed the podium since the women’s relay was added to the Olympics in 1992, winning silver in 2006, 2010 and 2014. With the likes of Kim Boutin and Marianne St-Gelais in the lineup, they have a good chance to keep the streak alive. They’ll compete against South Korea, China and Italy.

Kim Boutin already has two bronze medals and will try to make the podium again with the women’s relay team. Photo: Vincent Ethier/Canadian Olympic Committee

TUESDAY NIGHT

Freestyle Skiing: Men’s Ski Cross

When: 9:30-10:15 p.m. and 11:15 p.m.-12:55 a.m. ET/6:30-7:15 p.m. and 8:15-9:55 p.m. PT

Why you should watch: It’s fun. Athletes race down a course, navigating banks, jumps and turns, while attempting to beat other skiers to the finish line. Canada isn’t a medal favourite in the men’s event this year, but there’s podium potential, led by Brady Leman. He won gold at the 2016 Winter X Games and had seven World Cup podiums in 2016-17.

Figure Skating: Women’s Short Program

When: 8-6:30 p.m. ET/5-9:30 p.m. PT

Why you should watch: Canadians Katelyn Osmond and Gabrielle Daleman finished second and third at the 2017 world championships and both women have the potential to make the podium in South Korea. The short program will set the stage.

EARLY WEDNESDAY MORNING

Hockey: Men’s Quarter-Finals

When: 7:10-9:30 a.m. ET/4:10-6:30 a.m. PT

Why you should watch: Canada’s opponent has yet to be determined, but they’ll likely play Finland, which has to get by host South Korea first. Canada and Finland both scored 11 goals in group play, second only to Russia’s 14, while Canada allowed four to Finland’s six. Canada is going for a third-straight title.

Cross-Country: Men’s Team Sprint

When: 3-4:30 a.m. and 5-6:20 a.m. ET/12-1:30 a.m. and 2-3:20 a.m. PT

Why you should watch: No Canadian man has ever won an Olympic medal in cross-country skiing. Alex Harvey and Len Valjas will try to change that. They finished sixth at the 2017 world championships and won World Cup gold in January 2017.

Alex Harvey hopes to become the first Canadian man to win an Olympic medal in cross-country skiing. Photo: Jason Ransom/Canadian Olympic Committee

Speed Skating: Women’s and Men’s Team Pursuit Finals

When: 6-8:50 a.m. ET/3-5:50 a.m. PT

Why you should watch: Canada needs to make it through the earlier quarter-finals and semifinals — which the men’s team did not — but they have podium potential. They made the World Cup podium twice this season, winning bronze both times.

Bobsleigh: Women’s Finals, Heats 3 and 4

When: 6:40-9 a.m. ET/3:40-6 a.m. PT

Why you should watch: Kaillie Humphries will attempt to make history by winning Olympic gold for a third-straight time. No Canadian — and no bobsledder — has ever won three-straight Olympic titles.

Canada’s Kaillie Humphries, left, and Heather Moyse successfully defended their Vancouver gold in Sochi. Photo: Jason Ransom/Canadian Olympic Committee

WEDNESDAY NIGHT

Snowboarding: Women’s Big Air Finals

When: 7:30-8:45 p.m. ET/4:30-5:45 p.m. PT

Why you should watch: New to the Olympics this year, it attracts the same athletes who wowed us with their slopestyle jumps, except here they go even bigger. Laurie Blouin — who won a silver medal in slopestyle, just days after a training-run accident put her participation in doubt and left her with a black eye — is Canada’s best bet for a medal. She finished sixth at the 2017 world championships in Sierra Nevada.

Freestyle Skiing: Men’s Ski Halfpipe Finals

When: 9:30-11 p.m. ET/6:30-8 p.m. PT

Why you should watch: The gravity-defying sport is captivating regardless of who’s competing — as athletes perform tricks in the air while skiing from one side of a semi-circular pipe to another — but at least one Canadian could be in contention. Mike Riddle, the reigning world and Olympic silver medallist, finished fourth at the 2018 X Games last month.

Hockey: Women’s Gold Medal Game

When: 11:10 p.m.-2 a.m. ET/8:10-11 p.m. PT

Why you should watch: This one was pencilled in early, with another battle expected between Canada and the United States. The Canadian women have won four-straight gold medals and no team, male or female, has ever won five in a row. The Americans have won the last four world titles.

Canada beat the United States 3-2 in the gold-medal game in Sochi to win a fourth-straight Olympic title. Photo: Mike Ridewood/Canadian Olympic Committee

EARLY THURSDAY MORNING

Short Track: Men’s 500 Metres, Women’s 1,000 Metres and Men’s 5,000 Metre Relay

Time: 5-7:45 a.m. ET/2-4:45 a.m. PT

Why you should watch: Canada could realistically win three medals in less than two hours. Samuel Girard, who won gold in the men’s 1,000-metre race, joins veteran Charles Hamelin as a medal contender over 500 metres. Kim Boutin has two bronze medals with hopes of winning a third at 1,000 metres, where she ranked No. 2 on the World Cup circuit this season. Teammate Marianne St-Gelais, the reigning world silver medallist, will be looking for redemption after being disqualified in her first two events. The men’s 5,000-metre relay team has two World Cup gold and a bronze in four tries this season. Short track is difficult to predict — with crashes common — but that also makes it incredibly entertaining.

Samuel Girard is the first Canadian man to win an Olympic gold medal in the 1,000-metre race. Photo: Vincent Ethier/Canadian Olympic Committee

Curling: Men’s Semifinals

When: 6:05-9 a.m. ET/3:05-6 a.m. PT

Why you should watch: Canada has won three-straight Olympic titles in men’s curling. Kevin Koe and Co. are trying to make it four in a row.

THURSDAY NIGHT

Figure Skating: Women’s Free Skate

When: 8 p.m.-12:15 a.m./5-9:15 p.m. PT

Why you should watch: Kaetlyn Osmond and Gabrielle Daleman will try to give Canada its fourth medal in five events, following gold in team, bronze in pairs and a medal of some colour a given in ice dance. But it’s the Russian women you don’t want to miss. Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva were the class of the women’s field in the team event.

Freestyle Skiing: Women’s Ski Cross

When: 9:30-10:15 p.m. and 11:15 p.m.-12:55 a.m. ET/6:30-7:15 p.m. and 8:15-9:55 p.m. PT

Why you should watch: It’s super entertaining — as athletes navigate turns, jumps and each other while racing down a course — and Canada boasts not one but two reigning Olympics medallists. Marielle Thompson, who missed most of this season with a knee injury, won gold in Sochi, while Kelsey Serwa won silver. Experience counts for a lot in this sport.

Kelsey Serwa and Marielle Thompson celebrate their 2014 Olympic silver and gold medals with bronze medalist Anna Holmlund of Sweden. Photo: Jason Ransom/Canadian Olympic Committee

Curling: Men’s Bronze Medal

When: 1:35-4:30 a.m. ET/10:35 p.m.-1:30 a.m. PT

Why you should watch: It’s curling.

EARLY FRIDAY MORNING

Speed Skating: Men’s 1,000 Metres

When: 5-6:35 a.m. ET/2-3:35 a.m. PT

Why you should watch: It’s one of the more competitive distances in speed skating, and Canadian Vincent De Haitre should be in the mix. The silver medallist over 1,000 metres at the 2017 world single distance championships, he was No. 8 on the World Cup circuit this season.

Biathlon: Men’s 4×7.5-km Relay

When: 6:15-7:45 a.m. ET/3:15-4:45 a.m. PT

Why you should watch: If you were waiting for Canadian contenders to check out this most challenging of sports — imagine racing all out and then steadying yourself enough to accurately fire a gun — this is your event. Nathan Smith, Brendan Green and brothers Scott and Christian Gow aren’t favourites, but they have upset potential, having won bronze at the 2016 world championships. Canada hasn’t won an Olympic medal in biathlon since 1994.

Hockey: Men’s Semifinals

When: 2:20-5 a.m. and 7:10-9:30 a.m. ET/11:20 p.m.-2 a.m. and 4:10-6:30 a.m. PT

Why you should watch: It’s hockey and hopefully Canada will still be alive.

Curling: Women’s Semifinals

When: 6:05-9 a.m. ET/3:05-6 a.m. PT

Why you should watch: See above, but change hockey to curling. Canada’s women have never missed out on an Olympic medal, but Rachel Homan is doing it the hard way in PyeongChang.

FRIDAY NIGHT

Snowboarding: Men’s Big Air Finals

When: 8-9:15 p.m. ET/5-6:15 p.m. PT

Why you should watch: Max Parrot and Mark McMorris won silver and bronze in slopestyle in PyeongChang and will be looking for another medal. Parrot is a four-time Winter X-Games champion — gold in 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2014 — and is ranked No. 1 in the world, while McMorris is a two-time champion (2015, 2012) ranked No. 2.

Mark McMorris with the bronze medal he won in slopestyle during the first week of the Olympics.
Photo: David Jackson/Canadian Olympic Committee

Curling: Men’s Gold Medal

When: 1:35-4:55 a.m./10:35 p.m.-1:55 a.m. PT

Why should should watch: You’ll either see Kevin Koe give Canada a fourth-straight Olympic title or you’ll see a new Olympic champion.

Cross-Country: Men’s 50-km Mass Start Classic

When: 12-3:05 a.m. ET/9 p.m.-12:05 a.m. PT

Why you should watch: Alex Harvey has one last try to make Canadian Olympic history. He won silver over this distance at the 2017 world championships.

EARLY SATURDAY MORNING

Speed Skating: Women’s and Men’s Mass Start

When: 6-8:40 a.m. ET/3-5:40 a.m. PT

Why you should watch: It’s the most fun you’ll have watching speed skating and two Canadians have a shot at a medal. On the women’s side, Ivanie Blondin is the 2016 world champion and won a silver medal on the World Cup circuit this season, while former short tracker Olivier Jean won bronze at the 2017 world single distance championships.

Curling: Women’s Bronze Medal

When: 6:05-9 a.m. ET/3:05-6 a.m. PT

Why you should watch: It’s curling.

Hockey: Men’s Bronze Medal

When: 7:10-10 a.m. ET/4:10-7 a.m. PT

Why you should watch: Who knows who might be competing, given it’s the first Olympics since 1994 without players from the National Hockey League. But it should be fun, regardless.

SATURDAY NIGHT

Curling: Women’s Gold Medal

When: 7:05-10:25 p.m. ET/4:05-7:25 p.m. PT

Why you should watch: We’ll either see a repeat of 2014, when Canada won gold, or a new Olympic champion. 

Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris won gold in mixed doubles curling in PyeongChang — can Rachel Homan and Kevin Koe match their success? Photo: Canadian Olympic Committee

Bobsleigh: Four Man Finals, Heats 3 and 4

When: 7:30-10:30 p.m. ET/4:30-7:30 p.m. PT

Why you should watch: Justin Kripps had two second-place finishes on the World Cup circuit this season, to sit fourth overall in the season standings, and is Canada’s best bet for a medal in this event.

Hockey: Men’s Gold Medal

When: 11:10 p.m.-2 a.m. ET/8:10-11 p.m. PT

Why you should watch: Really?

EARLY SUNDAY MORNING

Closing Ceremonies

When: 6-8 a.m. ET/3-5 a.m. PT

Why you should watch: The closing ceremony is the host country’s chance to present itself to the world. It’s typically more light-hearted and entertaining than the formal opening ceremonies.

Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse carried the Canadian flag at the closing ceremonies in Sochi four years ago. Photo: Jason Ransom/Canadian Olympic Committee

Canadian Medallists So Far

GOLD (5)

• Figure skating team
• Mikael Kingsbury, moguls
• Kaitlyn Lawes/John Morris, mixed doubles curling
• Ted-Jan Bloeman, 10,000-metre speed skating
• Samuel Girard, 1,000-metre short track

SILVER (5)

• Max Parrot, snowboard slopestyle
• Ted-Jan Bloeman, 5,000-metre speed skating
• Justine Dufour-Lapointe, moguls
• Laurie Blouin, snowboard slopestyle
• Luge team relay

BRONZE (6)

• Mark McMorris, snowboard slopestyle
• Kim Boutin, 500-metre short track
• Alex Gough, women’s luge
• Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, pairs figure skating
• Kim Boutin, 1,500-metre short track
• Alex Beaulieu-Marchand, ski slopestyle

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