Sport Shorts: What a Rush

What a Rush! Canada’s bobsleigh season started off with a bang in Park City, Utah over the weekend. Lyndon Rush, of Humboldt, Sask., piloted his four-man bobsled to a gold medal Saturday. In the sled were Chris Le Bihan (Kelowna, B.C.) and Calgarians Dan Humphries and Lascelles Brown. It was a nail-biter to be sure: their combined time of 1:36.43 was just 0.02 seconds ahead of U.S. and Russian sleds. Rush has been steadily improving at World Championships in the past three seasons, finishing a career-high 7th in 2009 in the two-man bobsleigh. Brown, a brakeman, is a 2006 Olympic silver medallist (two-man) and a three-time World Championship medallist.

Five Skaters, Five Medals: Canada’s short track speed skating team proved that it has a deep talent pool to draw from when the heat is on. At a World Cup in Marquette, Michigan, five different skaters won five individual medals. They were led by François-Louis Tremblay (Montreal) who captured gold in the 500 metres. Top ladies skater Kalyna Roberge (St-Étienne-de-Lauzon, Que.) snared the silver medal in that same event. Rounding out the list were three bronze medals won by Marianne St-Gelais (St-Félicien, Que.) in the 500 metres, Charles Hamelin (Ste-Julie, Que.) in the 1,500 metres and his brother François Hamelin (St-Félicien, Que.) in the 1,000 metres.

Canada also won two impressive relay medals. The men’s team won gold in an exciting final while the ladies team won bronze in a close race, start to finish. The seven medals are meaningful in that all the world’s top skaters were present as it was an important Olympic qualification event. Watch for these skaters to shine at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver during the Olympic Winter Games.

Nesbitt Serving Notice: Christina Nesbitt’s torrid start to the speed skating season continued over the weekend in Heerenveen, Netherlands. The London, Ontario native won gold in the 1,000 metres, with teammate Kristina Groves (Ottawa) skating well into 6th spot. Nesbitt also added a silver medal in the 1,500 metres, with Groves winning her first medal of the year, a bronze. The ladies pursuit team, featuring Nesbitt, Groves and Brittany Schussler (Winnipeg), stole the show with a dominating race that earned them gold. In second place, The Netherlands finished nearly two seconds behind. Many other skaters, including Denny Morrison (Fort St. John, B.C.) and Cindy Klassen (Winnipeg), are taking time to round into form with the goal of peaking early next year.

Silver Sawyer: He wanted to make a statement. And he did. Shawn Sawyer, figure skater from Edmundston, N.B. won the silver medal at the Skate America Grand Prix event in Lake Placid, New York on Sunday. Sawyer finished 12th at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games and now is battling for one of just two spots in Vancouver 2010. With Patrick Chan a near-lock for one spot, it leaves several Canadian men pursuing that last Olympic berth. In Lake Placid, Kevin Reynolds (Coquitlam, B.C.) finished 6th.

What Rust? Karen Cockburn, triple Olympic medallist, added to her trampoline medal cabinet by winning bronze at the World Championships in St. Petersburg, Russia on Saturday. She hadn’t competed internationally since winning silver at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Still, the Toronto native proved she doesn’t know how not to reach the podium. Friend and teammate Rosannagh MacLennan (Toronto) was close behind, in 4th place. Over the week-long event, Canadian gymnasts won seven medals.

Three Awards for Lopes-Schliep: You might say hurdling star Priscilla Lopes-Schliep is, well, outstanding. The pride of Whitby, Ontario was recognized by Athletics Canada with three awards: Outstanding Overall Athlete of the Year, Outstanding Athlete of the Year in Track Events, and Single Outstanding Performance of the Year. Last season, she was ranked world No. 1 for about six weeks and won silver at the World Championships in the 100-metre hurdles. Also, Sultana Frizell (Perth, Ont.) was named Outstanding Athlete of the Year in Field Events after becoming the first Canadian woman ever to reach the finals in hammer throw at the World Championships.

Golden Guillaume: At a judo World Cup in Apia, Samoa, Guillaume Perrault won gold in the 81 kg division. It was just the Longueuil, Quebec native’s third World Cup ever. Teammates Anne-Marie Pettersen (Saguenay, Que.) won silver in the women’s 70 kg and Joël Benoit (Quebec) took bronze in the men’s 66 kg.