Best of 2023: Champions continuing to be champions

They’re forces to be reckoned with, delivering world best performances year after year. Whether they’ve been around for more than a decade or just a few years, their names are associated with excellence. Reaching new heights every season, these exceptional athletes are constantly pushing limits and breaking records.

Here are a few Team Canada athletes who in 2023 have added new successes to their already impressive track records.

Jack Crawford – Alpine skiing

Jack Crawford isn’t sitting on his laurels in 2023! In February, the 26-year-old got his hands on the super-G World title at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Courchevel, France. On the fast track in the French Alps, the Canadian surprised the skiing world by finishing 0.01 seconds ahead of one of the favourites, Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde.

Crawford thus added his name to the short list of Canadian male skiers to have won a World Championship title, joining the legendary Erik Guay and John Kucera.

Canada’s James Crawford celebrates his gold medal he won in the alpine ski, men’s World Championship super-G race, in Courchevel, France, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Marco Trovati)

Over the past year, Crawford has also made his mark on the World Cup circuit, collecting two silver medals and a bronze, all in downhill events.

These successes followed his outstanding season in 2021-2022, during which he won bronze in the men’s combined at Beijing 2022 to become the first Canadian athlete to win an Olympic medal in an alpine skiing combined event. He followed this up with his first World Cup medal in March, winning silver in the super-G.

READ: Jack Crawford is the world champion in the men’s super-G

On the strength of these successes, we can be sure that Crawford will be adding more achievements to this list in the near future.

Mikaël Kingsbury – Freestyle skiing

The King of moguls has already won it all. In 2023, Mikaël Kingsbury continued his domination by adding three more crystal globes to his collection, winning both the moguls single and dual events, as well as the moguls overall. Kingsbury, who turned 31 last summer, has lifted 24 crystal globes in his career, more than any other freestyle skier in history.

Last season, the Canadian won half of the 12 World Cup events, ending the season with his 80th career victory on the circuit, as well as five silver medals.

READ: Kingsbury sweeps season’s Crystal Globes with dual moguls gold in Almaty

At the 2023 FIS Freestyle World Championships in Bakouriani, Georgia, he was crowned champion in both mogul events. While such a sweep is a accomplishment in itself, the most remarkable fact in this case is that it was the third consecutive World Championship where the king dominated both events in the discipline.

READ: Kingsbury wins historic fourth world title in dual moguls

Mikael Kingsbury kisses his crystal globe on a ski hill
Mikaël Kingsbury with the Crystal Globe he won as the 2022-23 overall World Cup leader in men’s moguls at the FIS World Cup in Almaty, Kazakhstan on March 17, 2023 (Andrey Kulagin/KSA)

Since he’s already accomplished everything in his sport, the only milestones for Kingsbury to surpass are those he’s set himself in the past. How many medals, titles and crystal globes will he finish with?

Summer McIntosh – Swimming

After a swift rise in 2022, Summer McIntosh has continued her momentum over the past year. At the World Aquatics 2023 World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, the 16-year-old swimmer won gold in the 200 m butterfly and 400 m medley, successfully defending the World titles she won in 2022. She now has a total of four career World Championship gold medals, more than any other Canadian swimmer in history. Also a bronze medallist in the 200 m freestyle and the women’s 4×100 m medley relay in Japan, this brings the number of World Championship medals to eight in her young career, from just two World Championship appearances.

READ: Summer McIntosh crowned world champion in the 400m medley for second consecutive year

In March, McIntosh took advantage of the Canadian Swimming Trials to lower two world records, setting new world marks in the 400 m freestyle and 400 m medley. While the former was lowered at the World Championships last July by World and Olympic champion Ariarne Titmus of Australia, McIntosh still holds the world record in the 400m medley.

Summer McIntosh poses with her gold medal and a Canadian flag draped over her shoulder
Summer McIntosh with the gold medal won in the women’s 400m medley at the 2023 World Aquatics World Championships, in Fukuoka, Japan. Swimming Canada/Ian MacNicol

Looking ahead to Paris 2024, the question is no longer whether Summer McIntosh will stand on an Olympic podium there, but how many times she will.

Joshua Liendo – Swimming

While the Canadian swim team boasts a number of female stars, Joshua Liendo is the undisputed headliner on the men’s side.

A few weeks before celebrating his 21st birthday, Liendo won silver in the 100 m butterfly at the World Aquatics 2023 World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, an event in which he had won bronze in 2022.

READ: Joshua Liendo sets Canadian record, wins silver at World Aquatics Championships

A sprint specialist, he is also a contender for international podiums in the 50 m and 100 m freestyle. In the latter event, he also won bronze at the 2022 World Championships.

Having qualified for the 50 m freestyle final last summer in Japan, Liendo decided to skip this final to concentrate on the 100 m butterfly, an event in which he felt he had a better chance of shining, and for which the final took place the same evening.

Joshua Liendo swims butterfly stroke
Joshua Liendo Edwards of Canada competes during the men’s 100m butterlfy semifinal at the 19th FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, June 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Liendo is the Canadian record-holder in the 100 m butterfly and 50 m freestyle. The national 100 m freestyle record held by London 2012 bronze medallist and 2007 World Champion Brent Hayden has been in Liendo’s sights for some time.

Will the Paris 2024 Olympics be his chance to seize this coveted record? One thing is certain, Liendo has already shown the world that he is a force to be reckoned with. Additionally, Liendo serves as an important role model for young Black swimmers.

Phil Wizard (aka Philip Kim) – Breaking

The sport of breaking will be contested for the first time at the Olympic Games in Paris 2024, and Phil Wizard is a pioneer. Kim secured his Olympic qualification by winning the gold medal at the Pan American Games in Santiago 2023.

A few weeks earlier, the Canadian B-boy had won the silver medal at the 2023 WDSF Breaking World Championships. This was yet another podium finish at the Worlds, having been crowned Champion in 2022 and runner-up in 2021.

READ: Phil Wizard on breaking as an art, culture, and sport

Phil Wizard of Canada competes in the Breaking B-Boy finals during the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games on Saturday, November 04, 2023. Photo by Candice Ward/COC

During 2023, Kim also won gold at the WDSF Pan American Championships, stringing together strong performances after back-to-back podium finishes at Breaking for Gold World Series competitions.

A sure bet in his discipline, Phil is ready to dazzle on the Olympic stage next summer.

Mark McMorris – Snowboard

Mark McMorris, who has won a bronze medal in each of his three Olympic Games, is also a regular on the X Games podium.

In Aspen last January, the Canadian snowboarder won gold in the men’s snowboard slopestyle event, thus securing his 22nd career Winter X Games medal. The award broke a tie with American snowboarder Jamie Anderson and made him the sole holder of the record for the most Winter X Games medals. Of his 22 medals, 11 are gold.

Mark McMorris grabs his snowboard while performing a trick against blue sky
Mark McMorris of Canada makes his jump in The Style Experience FIS Snowboard Big Air World Cup qualifiers in Edmonton on Friday, December 9, 2022.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Having just turned 30, McMorris still has more than one trick up his sleeve to establish new milestones.

Canadian Short Track Speed Skating Team

While the 2022-23 season marked a changing of the guard for the Canadian short-track speed skating team, Canadian athletes continued the tradition of racking up World Championship medals after a string of World Cup podiums.

Once again, many different athletes made it to the international podium.

Steven Dubois, triple Olympic medallist at Beijing 2022, won his first individual medals at a World Championships, taking silver in the 1,000 m and bronze in the 500 m. He also finished second overall in the World Cup 500 m. Pascal Dion won bronze in the 1500 m at the World Championships after taking second overall in the World Cup 1000 m.

  • Steven Dubois wears bronze medal on podium while holding up flowers and mascot toy

On the women’s side, Kim Boutin and Courtney Sarault each won individual bronze medals at the World Championships, in the 1,500 m and 1,000 m respectively. Boutin finished third overall in the 500 m World Cup, while Sarault was second overall in the 1,000 m and third in the 1,500 m.

  • Courtney Sarault races around a turn in a short track speed skating race

The Canadian relays had a strong presence on the podiums throughout the season. At the World Championships, the Canadian women won bronze in the 3,000 m relay. The men’s 5,000 m relay won gold in three of the six World Cup races, but a crash in the final at the World Championships forced the Canadians to settle for fourth place.

Canadian short track skaters kicked off the 2023-24 season at home, as the first two World Cups were held in Montreal. They won five medals at the first event and seven at the second. Boutin missed the first two World Cups of the season, but will be back with the team in the new year.  

Canadian Long Track Speed Skating Team

Once again this year, Canadian long-track speed skaters distinguished themselves at the World Single Distance Championships and on the World Cup circuit.

In the women’s team pursuit event, the trio of Ivanie Blondin, Valérie Maltais and Isabelle Weidemann had a perfect season, culminating in their crowning as World Champions after sweeping all three World Cup events.

Three speed skaters hug each other on the podium
Valerie Maltais, Ivanie Blondin and Isabelle Weidemann of Canada during the medal ceremony after the Team Pursuit Women during the ISU World Speed Skating Championships at Thialf on March 3, 2023 in Heerenveen, Netherlands. (Photo by Rafal Oleksiewicz/Speed Skating Canada)

Blondin also won silver in the women’s mass start event at the World Championships, her sixth career medal in this competition. Prior to that, she was the World Cup mass start champion, a title she began defending in convincing fashion in November, winning gold and silver in the first two races of the season. 

At the age of 37, Ted-Jan Bloemen proved once again that he is one of the World’s best long-distance racers by winning bronze in the 10,000 m at the World Championships.

  • Ted-Jan Bloemen waves in a dark arena under spotlights
  • Ivanie Blondin waves both arms above her head while being introduced before a race

Short-distance specialist Laurent Dubreuil won the silver medal in the 1,000 m at the World Championships, having previously finished first in the overall World Cup standings in the 500 m.

In the men’s team pursuit, Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu, Connor Howe and Hayden Mayeur surprised everyone and took silver at the World Championships.