5 Team Canada sports to watch this weekend: November 17-19
Team Canada is competing all over the world this weekend as the winter season continues to take over the scene.
Canadian figure skaters are in Finland for the latest ISU Grand Prix stop, while speed skaters and skeleton athletes are revisiting old stomping grounds in China as they race at venues used during the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games. Some of top Canada’s alpine skiers will be hitting European slopes and, in milder climes, Brooke Henderson has teed off at the final LPGA Tour event of the season in Florida.
Here’s what you don’t want to miss this weekend:
Three Canadian duos will compete at the fifth stop of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Espoo, Finland this weekend.
Reigning Canadian champions Laurence Fournier-Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen are back in action in the ice dance event. After winning silver at the Grand Prix de France at the start of the month, another similar result will likely secure them a spot in the Grand Prix Final in December, which will feature only the top six teams from the fall series. They are the second seeds in Espoo, behind their training mates and reigning world champions, Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the United States.
They’ll be joined in the ice dance event by Nadiia Bashynska and Peter Beaumont, who will be making their senior Grand Prix debut. Last season they won the Junior Grand Prix Final before taking bronze at the ISU World Junior Championships.
Another up-and-coming duo, Brooke McIntosh and Benjamin Mimar, will represent Canada in the pairs event. They finished sixth at Skate Canada International in late October and are aiming for a return to a Grand Prix podium after winning their first medal, a bronze, last year at the NHK Trophy.
Competition gets underway on Friday with the short programs/rhythm dance, with the free skates scheduled for Saturday. CBC will have complete coverage on livestream.
Long Track Speed Skating
After kicking off the ISU World Cup season in Obihiro, Japan last week, Canada’s long track speed skaters are in action in Beijing, China, on the same oval where the most recent Olympic competition took place.
Ivanie Blondin, who began defence of her overall World Cup title in the mass start by winning the gold medal last week, will be looking to follow it up with another solid performance on Saturday. Fourth in Obihiro, Valérie Maltais will be aiming for her first podium this season, having won an individual medal on the circuit in 2022-23. The team pursuit, in which they both regularly compete, is not part of this weekend’s program.
There are a few Canadian men who would love to stand on the podium for the first time this season. Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu was fourth in the mass start last weekend but his past success in the event includes a bronze medal at the 2020 World Single Distances Championships. Ted-Jan Bloemen is coming off his own fourth-place finish in the 5000m, and will be on the start line on Saturday.
Laurent Dubreuil, last season’s overall World Cup champion in the men’s 500m, has two shots at the podium in that event with races scheduled for Friday and Saturday. He’ll also race the 1000m on Sunday, the event in which he won Olympic silver at Beijing 2022.
Also keep an eye on the Canadian trios in the men’s and women’s team sprint events on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. These events are not on the Olympic program but Canada is the reigning world champion in both.
The IBSF Bobsleigh & Skeleton World Cup kicks off this weekend in Yanqing, China — on the same ice track that was used for Beijing 2022. The focus for Canadian fans will be on Friday’s women’s skeleton races in which Mirela Rahneva, Jane Channell, and Hallie Clarke will compete.
Rahneva is coming off a resurgent season that saw her win bronze at the IBSF World Championships and finish third in the overall World Cup standings. She finished fifth on the Yanqing track in her second Olympic appearance. Channell, who is also a veteran of the circuit, posted four top-10 finishes on the World Cup last season and finished sixth at the world championships.
Clarke, who is just 19, is back competing for Canada after representing the United States last season. As a rookie on the World Cup circuit, she won two silver medals, one at the start and one at the end of last season. She also slid to gold in the U20 division at the 2023 Junior World Championships.
The rest of the Canadian team is staying closer to home, getting some runs in at a North American Cup event in Lake Placid. That includes Canada’s top male skeleton athlete, Blake Enzies, as well as the entire bobsleigh squad. There is no women’s bobsleigh event on the schedule for Yanqing, so it made more sense for the bobsleigh team to start their World Cup campaign at the second stop in La Plagne, France in December.
A FIS Alpine World Cup men’s slalom race is scheduled to take place in Gurgl, Austria, on Saturday. The Canadian men who specialize in the technical events hope to get in their first race of the “White Circus” this season after the giant slalom planned for Soelden, Austria at the end of October was cancelled due to intense wind. Erik Read is Canada’s top-ranked man on the World Cup Start List for slalom.
There are also two women’s World Cup downhill races scheduled for Saturday and Sunday in Zermatt-Cervinia, on a course that stretches from Switzerland to Italy. The hope is to avoid the same fate of the men’s downhill events that were supposed to take place there last weekend but had to be cancelled for heavy snow and wind. Canada’s Stefanie Fleckenstein will be in the starting gate.
After kicking off the 2023 season with a victory at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions in January, Brooke Henderson is still in search of a second LPGA Tour win this season. She will be looking to claim the title in the final event of the season at the CME Group Championship, which takes place at the Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida.
She came close to another trophy when she finished second at the Evian Championship in July. At the end of October she finished tied for sixth at the Maybank Championship.