5 Team Canada sports to watch this weekend: December 15-17
The holiday season is upon us, but Team Canada athletes will be in action at home and around the world in a range of sports, including ski jumping, short track speed skating, luge, skateboarding, and wrestling.
Here are a few of the things you won’t want to miss:
One hundred and fifteen of Canada’s best wrestlers will hit the mats in Edmonton this weekend for the 2023 Canadian Team Trials. Athletes who win their weight classes will earn their spots in Olympic qualification tournaments for Paris 2024.
The competition will include both pool and ladder components. The pool tournament for women’s wrestling and men’s freestyle will take place on December 15. Each pool winner will join three already ranked wrestlers (who earned their placement at the 2023 Canadian Senior Wrestling Championships) in the ladder portion of the tournament on December 16. The Greco-Roman pool and ladder will take place on December 17.
Only one athlete from Tokyo 2020 is back for another Olympic run, that being Amar Dhesi competing in the men’s 125kg freestyle class.
There will likely be many tight battles throughout the weekend, including the women’s 68kg event, featuring current top seed Olivia Di Bacco and former world champion Linda Morais.
A lot of eyes will be on the women’s 76kg event as Justina Di Stasio seeks to check off the last box in her wrestling career. Di Stasio has a World Championship gold, Pan Am Games gold, Commonwealth Games gold, and Pan Am Championships gold, but has never secured an Olympic spot.
Winners of this weekend’s trials will still need to qualify internationally within their weight classes to earn their ticket to Paris 2024.
The trials can be streamed online.
Short Track Speed Skating
The Canadian short track speed skating team will be in action for the second weekend in a row as the ISU World Cup circuit moves to Seoul, South Korea.
Gold medallist in the last three 500m World Cup races, Jordan Pierre-Gilles will be looking to continue his winning streak.
William Dandjinou, who now has three individual podium finishes on the circuit this season, is a rising star on the team. Among the veterans, Steven Dubois has also been on the podium three times this season and, after three of the six legs, is second in the overall men’s World Cup standings.
Pascal Dion, Félix Roussel and Maxime Laoun are the other three skaters on Team Canada. The men’s 5000m relay has won medals at each of the three World Cups in 2023-24, winning gold twice, including last weekend.
Danaé Blais, Rikki Doak, Courtney Sarault, Florence Brunelle, Claudia Gagnon and Renee Steenge are the Canadian representatives on the women’s side. Blais won her first two individual World Cup medals in Montreal, while Doak claimed her first individual gold medal on the circuit.
Qualifying for all events will take place on Friday. The 500m and 1500m events for both genders are on Saturday, along with a mixed relay. A second 500m event and a 1000m event for both men and women will take place on Sunday, as well as the finals of the men’s and women’s relay events.
Whistler will welcome nearly 100 of the world’s best luge athletes for the second stop of the FIL World Cup this weekend. That will include 11 Canadians.
Trinity Ellis, who hails from nearby Pemberton, B.C., is coming off a personal best World Cup result after placing 12th in women’s singles at the season opener in Lake Placid. Devin Wardrope and Cole Zajanski would love to slide onto the podium after placing fourth in last season’s men’s doubles race in Whistler.
Also set to compete are Kailey Allan, Caitlin Nash, Theo Downey, Beattie Podulsky, Embyr Lee Susko, Midori Holland, Carolyn Maxwell, and Dylan Morse.
The men’s singles as well as the doubles races for men and women will take place on Friday. Women’s singles and the team relay will take centre stage on Saturday.
Team Canada’s women’s ski jumpers are headed to the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup in Engelberg, Switzerland.
Many eyes will be on 19-year-old Alexandria Loutitt, who already opened the season with a bang, securing silver on the large hill and bronze on the normal hill in Lillehammer, Norway in early December. It was a great start for Canada’s first ever world champion in ski jumping.
Loutitt is joined by Beijing 2022 Olympic teammate Abigail Strate, as well as Natalie Eilers and Nicole Maurer. Strate finished 13th on the large hill and 20th in the normal hill event in Lillehammer.
Women’s qualification begins on Thursday, with competition continuing through to Saturday.
Tokyo, Japan will play host to the World Skate Street World Championships, the first time the nation has hosted a stop on the World Skateboard Tour.
Canadian rider Ryan Decenzo will hope to improve on his performance from last year’s worlds in Rome, Italy, where he finished seventh. Other Canadians to look out for include Tokyo 2020 Olympian Matt Berger, as well as Shay Sandiford and Samantha Secours.
The event has Olympic qualification implications, as riders try to accumulate points for the Olympic World Skateboarding Rankings which will be used in January to determine who advances to the Olympic Qualifier Series.