Canada Games alumni had a huge impact on PyeongChang 2018
For many Team Canada athletes, the Canada Games are a pivotal moment in their athletic development. For many, this is their first experience in a multi-sport competition, where they are part of something bigger than themselves.
The Canada Games have produced many international competitors and Olympians over the years, serving as a training ground for future Canadian stars. Check this out: 34% of Team Canada athletes at PyeongChang 2018 were Canada Games alumni! They represented nine of our 10 provinces and two of our three territories.
So, to celebrate the one-year anniversary of PyeongChang 2018, let’s look at some of those Canada Games alumni who contributed to Team Canada’s record medal haul.
Canada won 11 gold medals at PyeongChang 2018. Five of those saw Canada Games alumni stand on the top step of the podium.
In freestyle skiing, Kelsey Serwa won gold in women’s ski cross event while Cassie Sharpe became Olympic champion in women’s halfpipe. Serwa had been an alpine skier when she won giant slalom gold for Team BC at the 2007 Canada Games in Whitehorse. Sharpe represented Team BC in 2011, competing in aerials, moguls and halfpipe in Halifax.
Kaitlyn Lawes took home gold with teammate John Morris from the inaugural Olympic mixed doubles curling event. When she was just 14, Lawes represented Team Manitoba in women’s curling at the 2003 Canada Games in Bathurst-Campbellton, New Brunswick.
Kaetlyn Osmond was just 11 years old when she won bronze in pre-novice women’s singles at the 2007 Canada Games. Eleven years later, she took home Olympic gold with her teammates in figure skating’s team event in PyeongChang. She added a bronze medal on her own in the women’s singles.
Justin Kripps claimed two-man bobsleigh gold with brakeman Alex Kopacz in PyeongChang. While bobsleigh isn’t contested at the Canada Games, Kripps is an alumnus. He competed for Team BC in athletics at the 2005 Canada Summer Games in Regina.
Of the 23 women who won hockey silver in PyeongChang, 14 were Canada Games alumni – an incredible 61% of the team! Before they all wore the maple leaf, they represented six different provinces: Meghan Agosta (2003, Ontario), Bailey Bram (2007, Manitoba), Emily Clark (2011, Saskatchewan), Ann-Renée Desbiens (2011, Quebec), Haley Irwin (2003, Ontario), Brianne Jenner (2007, Ontario), Rebecca Johnston (2007, Ontario), Meaghan Mikkelson (2003, Alberta), Marie-Philip Poulin (2007, Quebec), Lauriane Rougeau (2007, Quebec), Natalie Spooner (2007, Ontario), Laura Stacey (2011, Ontario), Blayre Turnbull (2011, Nova Scotia), Jennifer Wakefield (2007, Ontario).
Before she won ski cross silver in PyeongChang, Brittany Phelan was an alpine skier and a member of Team Quebec at the 2007 Canada Games. She made her Olympic debut in alpine skiing at Sochi 2014 before making the switch to the sport in which she became an Olympic medallist.
Canadian snowboarding icon Mark McMorris took home slopestyle bronze in PyeongChang. But back in 2007, he was a 13-year-old on Team Saskatchewan getting set for just his fourth ever outing in a halfpipe at the Canada Games in Whitehorse.
Charles Hamelin and his short track teammates won bronze in the 5000m relay in PyeongChang. That tied Hamelin as Canada’s most decorated male Olympian. He had represented Team Quebec at the 2003 Canada Winter Games before making his Olympic debut three years later.
After the NHL announced that players under league contracts would not be allowed to compete at PyeongChang 2018, many dismissed Canada as a medal threat in the tournament. However, after assembling a roster of players from foreign leagues, the men’s ice hockey team came home with bronze. Six of the players were Canada Games alumni: Gilbert Brulé (2003, British Columbia), Stefan Elliot (2007, British Columbia), Chay Genoway (2003, Manitoba), Justin Peters (2003, Ontario), Kevin Poulin (2007, Quebec), Wojtek Wolski (2003, Ontario).
Beyond the medallists, there were other notable achievements by Canada Games alumni.
From Olympic rookies to Olympic veterans, eight of the 10 biathletes on Team Canada had competed at the Canada Games: Brendan Green, Sarah Beaudry, Rosanna Crawford, Christian Gow, Scott Gow, Emma Lunder, Julia Ransom, Megan Tandy.
Seven of 11 members of the Olympic cross-country skiing team came from the Canada Games: Anne-Marie Comeau, Knute Johnsgaard, Jesse Cockney, Dahria Beatty, Graeme Killick, Emily Nishikawa, Lenny Valjas.
In speed skating, 63% of the long track team had competed at the Canada Games while four of the 10 short trackers had. That crew includes Ivanie Blondin, Kali Christ, Vincent de Haître, Laurent Dubreuil, Marsha Hudey, Kaylin Irvine, Olivier Jean, Gilmore Junio, Jamie Macdonald, Valérie Maltais, Heather McLean, Keri Morrison, Marianne St-Gelais, Alexandre St-Jean, and Isabelle Weidemann.
Two members from each of the men’s (Kevin Koe, Marc Kennedy) and women’s (Rachel Homan, Emma Miskew) curling teams had Canada Games experience, though for Koe it had been as a softball player for Team NWT in 1993.
Canada Games alumni accounted for 40% of the freestyle skiing team. In addition to the medallists already noted, the team included Chloé Dufour-Lapointe, Marc-Antoine Gagnon, Teal Harle, Dara Howell, Evan McEachran, Andi Naude, Olivier Rochon, Audrey Robichaud, and Yuki Tsubota.