Sport Short: Many Canadians Enjoying Big Starts to the Season

Mogul Masters Nab Three Medals On Saturday, Canadian freestyle moguls skiers won three medals at the first World Cup of the season in Finland. The team was led by Jenn Heil (Spruce Grove, Alta.), who won silver. Heil is two-time Olympic medallist and five-time Crystal Globe winner. Right behind her was teammate Kristi Richards (Summerland, B.C.), who captured bronze.

On the men’s side, a new star may be blooming. Mikaël Kingsbury (Deux-Montagnes, Que.) won silver, his first-ever World Cup medal. The 18-year-old (in photo above) was last year’s FIS Rookie of the Year. Also, 16-year-old Justine Dufour-Lapointe finished 5th in her first World Cup event.

Propelled By His Quad: After finishing 5th at the ISU Grand Prix Final in 2007 and 2008, Toronto’s Patrick Chan put it all together on Saturday to capture gold. The world silver medallist nailed a quad to open his program, setting the tone. He was joined on the podium by Canadian ice dance pair Vanessa Crone (North York, Ont.) and Paul Poirier (Unionville, Ont.), who won bronze.

Déjà-Vu: Quite the start for a couple of high-flying Canadian snowboarders. At the first World Cup snowboard cross events of the season in Austria, Dominique Maltais and Maëlle Ricker provided some déjà-vu. Maltais won gold and Ricker silver on Tuesday, and then they replicated that same finish the next day. Maltais (Petite-Rivière-Saint-Francois, Que.) leads the World Cup standings with a perfect 2,000 points, with Olympic champion Ricker (Whistler) at 1,600.

Gough Wins Bronze Again: Skeleton racer Amy Gough won bronze for the second straight week at a World Cup. The native of Abbotsford, B.C. was 3rd in Park City, USA on Thursday. Mellisa Hollingsworth (Eckville, Alta.), 2006 Olympic bronze medallist, again just missed a medal, finishing 4th. On the men’s side, Olympic champion Jon Montgomery was top Canadian in 10th spot.

Career Bests on the Slopes: Marie-Michèle Gagnon (Lac-Etchemin, Que.) finished 5th in giant slalom Sunday at a World Cup in St. Moritz, SUI. It’s the best result of her career. Marie-Pier Préfontaine (Saint-Sauveur, Que.) was 24th, also a personal best World Cup result for her. At a World Cup event in Val d’Isère, FRA, Julien Cousineau (Lachute, Que.) was the fastest Canadian with a 5th place finish in the slalom event, equalling his personal best.

Rushing to a Bronze Medal: Olympic bobsleigh pilot Lyndon Rush captured a bronze medal in four-man at a World Cup on Saturday. Rush (Humboldt, Sask.) teamed with Edmonton’s Neville Wright, Calgary’s Chris LeBihan and Ottawa’s Cody Sorenson for a time of 1:34.72.

Lamaze Finishes 2nd in Geneva: Olympic champion show jumper Eric Lamaze finished 2nd at a World Cup Grand Prix in Geneva on Sunday. The native of Schomberg, Ont. guided his champion horse Hickstead to a time of 32.65 seconds in a jump-off.

Despatie Thrills in Montreal: Alexandre Despatie won a pair of gold medals at the CAMO Invitational diving event in Montreal over the weekend. He first won the 3-metre springboard, then the 3-metre synchro event with Regina’s Reuben Ross. Despatie (Laval, Que.) unveiled a new dive in the springboard event, a very difficult front-four-and-a-half. Other gold medallists included Jennifer Abel (Laval, Que.) in the 3-metre and 10-metre synchro duo Meaghan Benfeito (Montreal) and Roseline Filion (Laval, Que.).

Three Medals on Short Track: Edmonton’s Jessica Gregg won bronze in the 500 metres at a short track speed skating World Cup in Shanghai, while teammate Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, Que.) also won bronze in the 1,500 metres. And for the first time this year, the men’s relay team didn’t win gold – though they did take silver. The team: Jean, Charles Hamelin (Sainte-Julie, Que.), Michael Gilday (Yellowknife) and Liam McFarlane (Medicine Hat, Alta.).

Morrison Back in Familiar Territory: Top Canadian speed skater Denny Morrison won his first medal of the season on Saturday. At a World Cup in Japan, the Fort St. John, B.C. native captured bronze in the 1,000 metres. Winnipeg’s Shannon Rempel had her best race of the season, finishing 5th in the 1,000 metres. Edmonton’s Jamie Gregg was 5th in the 500 metres.

Kershaw Cracks Top-10: Devon Kershaw (Sudbury, Ont.), battled through heavy snow to challenge for a medal in a World Cup 15 km sprint Saturday in Davos, SUI. He finished 9th and afterward credited his team of wax technicians who prepared him for the conditions. Also, Len Valjas (Toronto) and Phil Widmer (Banff, Alta.) finished 17th and 18th in a sprint on Sunday, qualifying both for the 2011 World Championships.

Two Lugers Move to Lead Pack: It’s fair to say now that Canadian luge athletes Alex Gough and rookie Arianne Jones have moved to the lead pack at each World Cup race. On Calgary Friday night, Gough (two-time Olympian from Calgary) followed up her bronze medal from last week with a strong 7th-place finish. Calgary’s Jones wound up 12th, her 3rd straight finish in the top-15.

To the Canvas in Tokyo: On Sunday, Nicholas Tritton (Perth, Ont.) climbed aboard the podium at a Tokyo Grand Slam judo tournament. There, the 2008 Olympian won bronze in the 73 kg event.