Over the weekend, a few of Team Canada’s winter athletes started their Olympic seasons on a winning note while there was more podium success in the last days of a summer sport.
Monday also brought with it a fond farewell to an Olympic gold medallist. Here are all the details:
Canadian figure skaters finished the weekend with seven medals at the Autumn Classic International in Pierrefond, Quebec, an event included in the ISU Challenger Series and serving as a warm-up for the Grand Prix circuit.
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir led a Canadian podium sweep in the ice dance, scoring 195.76 to finish more than 22 points ahead of Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje (173.56) who edged out Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier (172.26) for the silver medal. For the reigning world champions, this competition marked the highly anticipated debut of their programs for the Olympic season, including their free skate set to the soundtrack of Moulin Rouge.
“I thought it was a very strong first outing for our free dance,” Virtue said in a Skate Canada release. “It wasn’t quite what we’ve been training at home but that’s to be expected this early. There’s a lot to learn in how to compete this program.”
World silver medallist Kaetlyn Osmond (217.55) won the gold medal in the ladies’ event by more than 18 points over Japanese upstart Mai Mihara (199.02). Kazakh Elizabet Tursynbaeva (181.00), also a recent graduate from the junior ranks, finished third. Osmond came within a point of her personal best score in the short program before landing all seven triple jumps in her free skate for the first time ever, giving her a career high 142.34 points in that program.
“I love both my programs this year. And to do them both well here means so much to me. To get the seven triples is a big bonus,” Osmond said in a Skate Canada release.
Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (202.98) took the silver medal in the pairs’ event, sharing the podium with bronze medallist teammates Julianne Séguin and Charlie Bilodeau (189.64). Duhamel and Radford had been leading after the short program but did not have an easy time of it in the free skate as Meagan fell on both of their side-by-side triple jumps as well as the throw quad Salchow.
In the men’s event, Keegan Messing (248.30) placed third in the free skate to win the bronze medal behind a couple of two-time world champions, Spain’s Javier Fernandez (279.07) and Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu (268.24).
Long Track Speed Skating
Ted-Jan Bloemen broke his own national record in the 5000m, clocking a time of 6:08.06 on Friday at the Olympic Oval Fall Classic in Calgary. Bloemen knocked more than three seconds off his previous mark of 6:11.64 which was set last September.
“The time of six minutes and eight seconds is what I had in mind of what I could do because I felt I’ve made some progress,” Bloemen said in a Speed Skating Canada release. “But I didn’t dare believe it because it’s so much faster than I’ve ever done! I couldn’t have hoped for a better start, but don’t want to get too excited and just keep building on this.”
The next big event for Bloemen and the rest of Canada’s elite long track speed skaters will be the fall World Cup selection trials, October 19-22 in Calgary.
Joanna Brown wrapped up her international triathlon season with a silver medal at the ITU World Cup event in Huelva, Spain on Sunday. That podium finish came just a week after her impressive fifth-place finish at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
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Two Grand Finals (one U23, one Elite). Four years apart. Two 5th place finishes. Reflecting on these performances, what strikes me the most is the huge contrast between the mindset and the attitude that I had before, during, and after both races. A few years of growing up and of gaining some much needed perspective make the world of a difference. To finish off the season ranked 7th in the World Triathlon Series Rankings fills me with a sense of pride and of elation, but more than anything I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the people that believe in me and with respect for the women that I race beside. I am already looking forward to the start of the next series. I’m looking forward to sharing the love of racing. I’m looking forward to failing, to learning, to pushing the limits, and to setting new ones. Passion brings incredible strength and motivation. Passion brings heartbreak and struggle. The pursuit is never easy, but it’s also never over. And it is always worth it. Thank you. – – – Photos thanks to : @markbatesphotography @tzaferes
Brown came out of the 1500m swim in third place before settling into a leading pack of 10 cyclists during the 40km bike leg. She came out of the second transition in a group that was 15 seconds behind the leader but found another gear midway through the 10km run to claim the silver medal in 2:01:50. Czech Vendula Frintova won the race in 2:01:14 while American Chelsea Burns sprinted for the bronze in 2:02:03.
The medal is Brown’s third of the year on the World Cup circuit. She also posted two fourths, a fifth and a seventh place finish on the World Triathlon Series.
Multiple Olympic gold medallist Charline Labonté has announced her retirement from Canada’s National Women’s Team. After serving as the alternate goaltender at Salt Lake City 2002, Labonté led all goaltenders at Turin 2006 with a 0.33 GAA and a .976 save percentage. She went on to win two more gold medals at Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014.
Labonté played 61 games while wearing the maple leaf since debuting with Canada’s National Women’s Team in the fall of 2001. She helped Canada win gold at both the 2007 and 2012 IIHF Women’s World Championships and was the Top Goaltender at the 2009 Worlds where she earned one of her six silver medals. She finishes her international career with a 1.51 GAA, .919 save percentage, 16 shutouts and a 45-12-1 record.
Labonté is looking ahead to a career in the culinary industry but plans to stay connected to hockey through coaching and sport psychology consultation.