Feature photo: Allison Beveridge in New Zealand (Photo: Rob Jones/Canadian Cyclist).
This past weekend was something special for Team Canada athletes.
Major breakthroughs and head-turning performances abounded from summer and winter sports. Let’s get to it:
Cycling Canada enjoyed a tremendous three days at an UCI World Cup event in Cambridge, New Zealand, where Allison Beveridge struck gold in the women’s omnium beating an Olympic medallist along the way. Earlier, Beveridge was part of the women’s team pursuit that narrowly lost gold to Australia and settled for silver by five one-hundredths of a second. In all, three medals were won when Monique Sullivan was upgraded to a bronze in the women’s keirin. A couple of Canadian records also fell in New Zealand (see story).
It wasn’t a World Cup-level event, but with American heavyweights such as Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin attending, USA Swimming’s Winter National Championships in Federal Way, Washington had some of the best swimmers on the planet in the water, looking for FINA-approved Olympic qualifying times and strong competition.
Among Canadians, Santo Condorelli had another big meet, winning gold in the men’s 100m freestyle, after a bronze in the 50m free. Ryan Cochrane took silver in the men’s 400m freestyle. In the women’s 200m breaststroke Kierra Smith was second, while Hilary Caldwell got on the podium in third place in the 200m backstroke.
The opening FIS World Cup stop in ski cross saw Canadians dominate the top step of the podium in Austria, winning the men’s and women’s events respectively via Chris Del Bosco and Marielle Thompson. Brady Leman joined his fellow Olympians on the podium in second place in the men’s race.
Short track speed skating
We’re used to Charles Hamelin finding World Cup gold, but younger brother Frank got to the top-of-the podium too this weekend, both men taking turns winning the two 500m races in Nagoya, Japan. Speed Skating Canada won eight medals at this World Cup.
Long track speed skating
Season and career breakthroughs arrived in Inzell, Germany for those who do their speed skating on the larger oval, where Gilmore Junio won gold for the first time in the 2015-16 calendar and Heather McLean made her World Cup podium debut – both in the men’s and women’s 500m, respectively. Canada took five medals from Inzell, and some bad news with an injury to 10,000m world record holder Ted-Jan Bloemen, that will have him sidelined for a few weeks.
On her toughest track, Kaillie Humphries piloted her sled with brakeman Melissa Lotholz to third place in Winterberg, Germany. That makes it two podiums in as many World Cup races for Humphries and Lotholz, who won last week in Altenberg.
Another international podium breakthrough for Team Canada arrived via Jane Channell. With Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton athletes in Winterberg, Channell grabbed the first World Cup podium for the federation this weekend, finishing third in the women’s race and marking her best-ever international result.
Domestic results that could have major Olympic ramification saw the rinks skipped by Rachel Homan and Kevin Koe win the women’s and men’s titles at the 2015 Canada Cup in Grand Prairie, Alberta. That earns the two teams a ticket to the 2017 Roar of the Rings, the tournament that will decide Canada’s Olympic curling teams at Pyeongchang 2018. No Canadian team has ever missed the podium since curling returned to the Olympic calendar in 1998.
Canadian curling remains undaunted by the global rock shortage reported earlier this year.