Best of 2023: Team Canada rising stars announce their arrival on the world stage 

Between Olympic Games, you can always count on new names making themselves known to the world. In 2023 it was no different. 

Once stars on the rise, these athletes made some big breakthroughs this year and are now among those being most closely watched as future Olympic medal contenders. 

Here’s a look back at some of the Team Canada athletes who made themselves ones to keep an eye on with their success in 2023. 

Alexandria Loutitt – Ski Jumping

Less than two weeks after the calendar flipped over, Alexandria Loutitt was rewriting history. Having already been part of Canada’s first ever Olympic medal in ski jumping in the team event at Beijing 2022, the 19-year-old made a big individual breakthrough in mid-January. In Zao, Japan she became the first Canadian woman to ever win a FIS World Cup gold medal in ski jumping. It was her first career World Cup podium. 

A couple weeks later, she stood atop another podium as the first Canadian woman to win a world junior championship title in ski jumping. But the biggest breakthrough of all came on the first day of March. She was victorious in the women’s large hill event at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, making her Canada’s first ever world champion ski jumper. 

Alexandria Loutitt mid ski jump with her skis in a V shape against a black night sky
Alexandria Loutitt, of Canada, soars through the air during the Women HS138 Ski Jumping event at the Nordic World Championships in Planica, Slovenia, Wednesday, March 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

Loutitt ended the season with five top-five finishes on the World Cup circuit, which included another podium performance in mid-March. She didn’t rest on her laurels over the summer. Motivated to achieve even more greatness, she reached the podium at four straight Grand Prix events, setting her up for another winter of success. 

Laurence St-Germain and Cameron Alexander – Alpine Skiing 

Canada had its best-ever performance as a country at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in 2023. Part of the credit for that must go to Laurence St-Germain and Cameron Alexander. 

Before she stepped into the start gate for the women’s slalom at the worlds, St-Germain had never won a major international medal. The closest she had ever come to a World Cup podium was a fifth-place finish in a parallel slalom event in December 2019. But something went very right for her in Courchevel-Meribel in February. 

Canada's Laurence St-Germain gets to the finish area after completing the women's World Championship slalom, in Meribel, France, Saturday Feb. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Marco Trovati)
Canada’s Laurence St-Germain gets to the finish area after completing the women’s World Championship slalom, in Meribel, France, Saturday Feb. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Marco Trovati)

St-Germain skied her way into third place after the first run of the slalom. But she was still more than half a second behind the leader, American Mikaela Shiffrin who had 85 World Cup victories to her name at that point. Despite feeling immense pressure, St-Germain decided to go with her gut for her second run. Instead of dissecting video of her form as she usually did, she chose to trust how she was feeling. A slight mishap with a new pair of goggles gave her a giggle and calmed her down for what would be the biggest run of her career.  She came away with the gold medal, making her Canada’s first world champion in the women’s slalom in 63 years. 

Alexander had had a brush with success when he won a World Cup downhill in March 2022. But heading into his first world championships in 2023, he’d broken into the top 10 just once during the World Cup season. That lack of big event experience was not a problem, however. He sped down the downhill course and grabbed himself the bronze medal. It’s all part of an incredible comeback since he missed the entire 2020-21 season with a knee injury. 

Cameron Alexander raises his arms in celebration on the podium
Canada’s Cameron Alexander celebrates after clinching the bronze medal in the alpine ski, men’s World Championship downhill, in Courchevel, France, Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Marco Trovati

Elizabeth Hosking – Snowboard 

There is no doubt that Canada is home to some great snowboarders. But there is one discipline in which podium finishes have not been so common – the halfpipe. Elizabeth Hosking made history at the 2023 FIS Snowboard World Championships when she won silver for Canada’s first ever world medal in the women’s halfpipe. Not since 2009 had a Canadian snowboarder won any halfpipe medal at the worlds. 

It was clear that the breakthrough was on the horizon for Hosking. In the months leading up, she had stood on two World Cup podiums, which were also a first for her. Still just 22, the future is immensely bright for the two-time Olympian. 

Elizabeth Hosking grins widely as she holds up her silver medal around her neck
Elizabeth Hosking receives her silver medal in snowboard halfpipe at the FIS Freestyle Ski, Snowboard and Freeski World Championships in Bakuriani, Georgia (© Miha Matavz/FIS)

Ethan Katzberg and Camryn Rogers – Hammer Throw 

Have you heard that Canada is now a hammer throw nation? That’s a claim you can make when the country boasts the world champions of both the women’s and men’s events. 

Ethan Katzberg was hardly a household name before his big breakout summer. Sure, he had won silver at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, but there were much greater things to come for the 21-year-old. At his first ever World Athletics Championships, he became the first Canadian to win a world title in the hammer throw, just a few days ahead of teammate Camryn Rogers (who we’ll get to in a moment). He was also the youngest world championship medallist ever in the men’s hammer throw, never mind the youngest world champion in the event.

Ethan Katzberg competes in hammer throw
AP/Bernat Armangue

To get the gold medal, he broke the Canadian record twice. In qualification he became the first Canadian to break the 80-metre mark and then hit 81.25m in the final. It was an improvement of almost five metres on his personal best distance he had set at the Commonwealth Games the year prior. Before the year was done, Katzberg claimed one more gold and one more record, setting a Pan Am Games best mark of 80.96m to take the victory at Santiago 2023. 

Rogers’ success in 2023 wasn’t quite as surprising. After all, she had won silver at the worlds in 2022, part of her progression up the ranks since she finished a Canadian Olympic best-ever fifth at Tokyo 2020. In 2023, she won all but two events that she entered and broke the national record in May when she hit 78.62m – a distance that ranked her fifth on the all-time list. It all led to her being crowned world champion. 

Camryn Rogers, of Canada, celebrates after an attempt in the Women’s hammer throw final of during the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Pierce LePage – Decathlon 

For more than a decade, Damian Warner has been the face of decathlon success in Canada. But for the last few years he’s had company in repping the maple leaf on major international podiums. 

In 2022, Pierce LePage provided a Canadian presence on the world championship podium when he won silver after Warner was forced to withdraw while leading after suffering a hamstring injury. In 2023, LePage laid claim to the year’s two most prestigious gold medals awarded in the decathlon. 

First came the Hypomeeting in Götzis, Austria in May. His 8700 points were just one shy of his personal best score he had achieved at the 2022 Worlds. He defeated Warner by just 81 points. Fast forward to August when the questions were: could the Canadian men post another 1-2 finish at the world championships and which one would be the victor? 

Pierce Lepage, of Canada, right, and Damian Warner, also of Canada,catch their breath after the decathlon 1500-meters during the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

At the end of the first day, LePage sat second with Warner close behind in third. The leader was so easily in reach that LePage took over top spot after the first event of the second day and never looked back. He accumulated 8909 points, blasting away his previous personal best and ranking him sixth on the all-time list. It was the second highest winning score ever at the world championships, as he defeated Warner by 105 points. His achievements earned LePage a nomination for Male World Athlete of the Year.  

Sarah Mitton – Shot Put 

After missing out on the world championship podium on a tiebreaker in 2022, Sarah Mitton’s motivation was stronger than ever in 2023. She became Canada’s first ever world championship medallist in the women’s shot put, winning silver with a season’s best throw of 20.08m. 

It was far from the only highlight of her year. She earned her first career Diamond League victory at the Bislett Games in Oslo and won back-to-back silver medals to close out the circuit, including one at the Diamond League Final. Mitton wrapped up her year with another gold medal. She dominated the competition at the Pan Am Games in Santiago, where any one of her throws would have gotten her the victory and she threw more than a metre farther than the runner-up. 

Sarah Mitton prepares to throw a shot put
Sarah Mitton of Canada competes in the Women’s Shot Put finals during the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games on Thursday, November 02, 2023. Photo by Leah Hennel/COC

Marco Arop – 800m 

In 2023, Marco Arop had the big results that had been anticipated from him for a few years. The two biggest moments came late in the summer. After taking bronze last year, he was crowned world champion in the men’s 800m – the first Canadian and second North American to ever win that title. Less than a month later he finally put his name on the Canadian record after being oh so close to breaking it several times. He ran 1:42.85 – the first Canadian to go sub-1:43 in the distance – to take silver at the Diamond League Final in Eugene, Oregon. 

Marco Arop wears the Canadian flag around his shoulders.
Marco Arop, of Canada celebrates winning the gold medal in the Men’s 800-meters final during the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023.(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Eric Peters – Archery 

Over the years, Canadians have had a smattering of success in major international archery tournaments, mostly achieved by one man – Crispin Duenas. But in 2023, it was 26-year-old Eric Peters who had a history-making moment. He won silver at the World Archery Championships for Canada’s best ever result in the men’s individual recurve event and the country’s best result by any recurve archer since 1969. The performance secured an Olympic quota spot for Paris 2024

Peters had been on the periphery of such a breakthrough, breaking into the top five at a World Cup earlier in the year. 

Eric Peters takes aim with his bow
Eric Peters of Canada competes in the Men’s Archery Recurve during the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games on Wednesday, November 01, 2023. Photo by Thomas Skrlj/COC

Fay De Fazio Ebert – Skateboarding 

The youngest Team Canada athlete at Santiago 2023 provided one of the greatest highlights of those Pan Am Games. Just a few weeks before her 14th birthday, she won gold in the women’s skateboard park event, defeating the runner-up by more than two points. It was a bit of an upset and showed that despite her young age, Fay De Fazio Ebert knows how to bounce back from disappointment after underperforming at the world championships not long before. 

Fay De Fazio Ebert rides her skateboard up a ramp
Fay De Fazio Ebert of Canada competes in the women’s skateboard park finals during the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games on Sunday, October 22, 2023. Photo by Thomas Skrlj/COC

Félix Dolci – Artistic Gymnastics 

The big goal for Canada’s men’s artistic gymnastics team this year was to qualify a full squad for Paris 2024. They did that at the world championships, placing fourth in the qualification round. To give the team its best shot at Olympic qualification, Félix Dolci sacrificed his opportunity to compete in the individual all-around final. He didn’t compete on pommel horse so that stronger athletes could be put up on that apparatus – a strategy that most definitely worked. Dolci did qualify for two individual apparatus finals (floor exercise and horizontal bar), putting him among the top eight in the world on both. 

Still riding that high, he went to Santiago and did something no Canadian had done in 60 years. He won the gold medal in the men’s individual all-around at the Pan Am Games thanks to an almost flawless day. His one fall on his final apparatus, the horizontal bar, did not hurt him because he had created such a lead for himself and no one else had the difficulty to catch him. At 21, Dolci has many years ahead of him as part of a resurgent Canadian men’s gymnastics team.   

Felix Dolci does a one handed swing on the horizontal bar
Felix Dolci of Canada competes in the Men’s Artistic Gymnastics Team event during the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games on Saturday, October 21, 2023. Photo by Candice Ward/COC

Sanoa Dempfle-Olin – Surfing 

At just 18, Sanoa Dempfle-Olin did something no Canadian had done before – qualify an Olympic spot in surfing. She won silver in the women’s shortboard event at Santiago 2023, earning her a golden ticket for Paris 2024 (which is provisional until she participates in the 2024 ISA World Surfing Games). Earlier in the year, Dempfle-Olin had finished fourth at the Pan American Surf Games. It’s all part of the upward trajectory for the teenager who at age 12 had been the youngest female surfer to ever win the Tofino Rip Curl Pro in her hometown. 

Sanoa Dempfle-Olin surfs a wave
Sanoa Dempfle-Olin competes win women’s shortboard surfing at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games (ISA/Pablo Jimenez)

Derek Gee – Road Cycling

For a few weeks in May, the cycling world couldn’t stop talking about Derek Gee as he became the breakout star of the Giro d’Italia. The then-25-year-old was racing in his first ever Grand Tour, for which his goal going in had been to just survive it. But he ended up making breakaway attempts on seven of the 18 road race stages, which resulted in four second place finishes and a pair of fourth place finishes.

Gee was less than two years removed from representing Canada in track cycling at Tokyo 2020. His efforts led to him winning the combativity award in a race that many had re-dubbed the Gee-ro d’Italia.