Sport Shorts: Rochette Claims Bronze

Rochette Rebounds for Medal: No disputing the fact that Joannie Rochette is Canada’s top ladies figure skater. At the Cup of China, Rochette (Ile Dupas, Que.) captured her sixth career Grand Prix medal in the final winter season leading up to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. She rebounded from a less-than-stellar short program to notch 111.06 points in the free skate, propelling her from seventh to bronze medal position. An Olympian in 2006, Rochette finished a strong fifth.

Elsewhere at the Cup of China, Canadian pair Meagan Duhamel (Lively, Ont.) and Craig Buntin (Kelowna, B.C.) finished fourth with 157.60 points. Waterloo-based ice dance pair Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje finished sixth overall after finishing up a strong fourth in the free dance. The top men’s skater was Kevin Reynolds (Coquiltam, B.C.), who finished eighth. And on the ladies side, Diane Szmiett (Watford, Ont.) also finished eighth after a personal-best score of 144.28 points thanks to an excellent free skate routine.

Who’s That? At this week’s World Cup halfpipe event in Saas Fee, Switz. (starting Thursday), the Canadian snowboard team will have some fresh faces. Complementing the usual national team members will be several professional boarders from Canada. The Canadian Snowboarding Federation has invited pro riders including Charles Reid and Dustin Craven to help strengthen the team and hopefully push national team veterans to new heights. The hope is that Canada can secure more halfpipe berths in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. (One relevant fact: In 2006, U.S. pro snowboarder Shaun White earned an Olympic berth and won a gold medal in Turin.)

Your 2009 Alpine Skiers of the Year: John Kucera, 2009 world champion in downhill, was named Canada male alpine ski racer of the year on Friday. The Calgary native’s victory on the icy slopes in Val D’Isere, France in February was his first career international win. Val D’Isere was also the location of Ken Read’s World Cup win in 1975, the first North American man to win a major downhill race. Also Friday, Alpine Canada named Marie-Michèle Gagnon (Lac-Etchemin, Que.) was named Canada female alpine ski racer of the year. Gagnon won the Nor-Am Cup circuit’s overall ladies title while nabbing the first two top-10 World Cup finishes of her career.

Rowing’s Best in London: On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, London, Ontario will host Canada’s best scullers at the 2009 Canadian Rowing Championships. If in the neighbourhood, head down to Fanshawe Lake and check out the action, which features a mix of Olympians and up-and-coming rowers.

Howard Rolling: Curling skip Glenn Howard captured his second straight win on the World Curling Tour, this time the Cactus Pheasant Classic in Brooks, Alberta. Howard’s Coldwater, Ont. squad defeated Kevin Martin’s Edmonton rink in the final by a score of 5-3. In just over a month, they will play in Canada’s Olympic curling trials in Edmonton.