5 Team Canada sports to watch this weekend: November 24-26
Team Canada is in action on lots of snow this weekend with several sports competing at World Cup events.
It’s the World Cup season openers for cross-country skiing, biathlon and ski slopestyle. The women’s alpine skiing World Cup circuit is taking place just across the border in Killington, Vermont while Canadian figure skaters are at the last stop of the Grand Prix series, NHK Trophy in Japan.
Here’s what you won’t want to miss this weekend:
The first stage of the FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup for slopestyle is taking place in Stubai, Austria. From Thursday’s qualifications, Evan McEachran, Max Moffatt and Jérémy Gagné have advanced to the final of the men’s event, which is now scheduled for Friday.
Last season, McEachran won a silver medal on the circuit, one of his four career World Cup podiums in slopestyle. It was in Stubai that he won his first World Cup medal in 2017. Moffatt has three career medals on the circuit, including one in Stubai in 2021. Gagné, 19, is making his World Cup debut this season.
The women’s FIS Alpine Ski World Cup circuit is in Killington, Vermont this weekend. A giant slalom event will take place on Saturday with a slalom event scheduled for Sunday.
Reigning world slalom champion Laurence St-Germain finished seventh in the second of two slalom races held in Levi, Finland, a fortnight ago. Ali Nullmeyer, who placed sixth in both Levi races, will also be looking to make a mark.
Seventh in the giant slalom at the first World Cup of the season in Sölden, Austria Valérie Grenier — who secured two podium finishes on the circuit last season, winning a gold and a bronze medal — will once again be competing with the best in the world in this event.
Canada’s top cross-country skiers will kick off their season this weekend at the FIS Cross-Country World Cup in Ruka, Finland. The Canadian squad features four Beijing Olympians — Katherine Stewart-Jones, Olivier Léveillé, Graham Ritchie and Antoine Cyr — along with three up-and-coming young talents in Xavier McKeever, Amelia Wells, and Léo Grandbois.
Sprint qualifications and finals will take place on Friday. Saturday will feature the men’s and women’s 10km races, while Sunday will bring with it the 20km mass start events.
Canada’s top biathletes are also kicking off their season this weekend at the IBU World Cup in Oestersund, Sweden.
Team Canada will be represented by a mix of Olympians and developing talents. For the first part of the season, the Canadian World Cup team will be Emma Lunder, Adam Runnalls, Christian Gow and Nadia Moser. Lunder and Gow are the veterans of the team, with two Olympic appearances each under their belts. Lunder earned a fourth-place and two fifth-place finishes on the World Cup circuit last season, as well as a seventh-place finish in the 12.5km mass start at the IBU World Championships.
The World Cup team will be joined in Sweden by members of Canada’s IBU Cup team, including Emily Dickson, Benita Peiffer, Trevor Kers and Zach Connelly.
Competition begins on Saturday with the mixed relay events, followed by the individual events on Sunday. After a few days off, competition will resume on Wednesday and continue into next weekend. That will include the women’s and men’s relays, the sprints and the pursuit events.
The NHK Trophy, the sixth and final event of the ISU Grand Prix series, begins this Friday in Osaka, Japan. Skaters collect points throughout the Grand Prix to work towards qualification for the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final, which will take place in December. The final admits only the top six skaters or teams in each discipline.
Team Canada will be represented in Osaka by Wesley Chiu in the men’s event, Kelly Ann Laurin and Loucas Éthier in pairs, and Marie-Jade Lauriault and Romain Le Gac in ice dance.
Chiu will be looking to improve on his performance from Skate Canada International, where he skated to a season’s best score and finished seventh overall. Laurin and Éthier finished fifth at Skate Canada International. The duo won their first Grand Prix medal last season. Lauriault and Le Gac are headed to Osaka straight from the Grand Prix of France where the finished fifth. The duo have already won a silver medal at the 2023 Budapest Trophy, a Challenger Series event.
The short programs/rhythm dance are scheduled for Friday, followed by free program/dance on Saturday.