THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn, COC/Darren Calabrese, THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn, COC/Darren Calabrese, THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Weekend Roundup: Three wins for McIntosh in Tennessee, World Cup bronze for fencer Guo

While many across Canada are feeling the freeze, some of Team Canada’s hopefuls for Paris 2024 are heating up.

Summer McIntosh started off her year with three impressive wins south of the border, while Jessica Guo battled her way onto a fencing World Cup podium in the Olympic city, and a couple of Canadian tennis stars are advancing at the Australian Open. On the winter sports scene, it was a hometown delight for Kaiya Ruiter at the Canadian National Skating Championships in Calgary.

Read on for more on what you might have missed.

Swimming: Three wins for McIntosh at Pro Swim Series

Summer McIntosh swam to three victories in as many days at the Pro Swim Series in Knoxville, Tennessee, her first major long course meet of the year. She opened on Thursday with a dominant victory in the 200m butterfly — in which she is the two-time reigning world champion — winning by nearly three seconds. She posted a similar margin of victory in Friday’s 200m freestyle.

In her final race on Saturday, the 200m individual medley, the 17-year-old was just behind American Alex Walsh at the 150m mark. But with a strong freestyle leg, the Canadian took the win by nearly half a second, setting a Pro Swim Series record time of 2:07.16. She was just 0.07 off the fastest time ever recorded in the event in the United States.

“Overall I’m pretty happy with it. I feel like I got better as the meet went on. Going into this meet I didn’t really have specific expectations on times. I’m always just trying to polish up details and dives and things like that and trying to figure out how I want to swim and execute each race,” said McIntosh.

Among the other notable results, Tessa Cieplucha won the 400m individual medley with her fastest time since the 2022 Canadian Trials. Maggie Mac Neil finished second in the 100m butterfly, racing this early in January for the first time in her career.

Fencing: Guo fights to World Cup bronze in Paris

Jessica Guo earned her second career FIE World Cup medal over the weekend as she took bronze in the women’s foil in Paris. It comes about a month after she earned a bronze in Novi Sad, Serbia. Guo is now ranked 10th in the world.

Starting with the Table of 64, Guo won her way through to the semifinals where she suffered her only loss of the tournament, dropping a decision to the eventual champion, China’s Chen Qingyuan. Guo will be back in action this coming weekend at another World Cup in Zagreb, Croatia.

Ski Jumping: Loutitt finishes just off podium in Sapporo

Alexandria Loutitt missed the podium by one spot in the women’s large hill event at the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup in Sapporo, Japan on Sunday.

In second place after the first round of jumping with a score of 109.9, Loutitt was pushed out of a podium position when she earned just 108.0 for her second jump. Her total of 217.9 left her 0.3 behind Nika Kriznar of Slovenia who took third place. The victory went to Japan’s Yuki Ito who scored 230.1 while German Katharina Schmid finished second with 224.0.

Wrestling: Stewart claims gold at Zagreb Open

The Zagreb Open in Croatia was a tune-up competition for some of the Canadian wrestlers who will be heading to the Pan Am Olympic Qualifier at the end of February. Two Canadian women made it to bronze medal bouts in Olympic program events. Hannah Taylor finished fifth in the 57kg event while Ana Godinez Gonzalez was fifth in the 62kg event.

The only Canadian podium came from Samantha Stewart, who won gold in the 55kg event which is not an Olympic weight class. The 34-year-old has represented Canada for many years, highlighted by a bronze medal at the 2021 World Championships.

Tennis: Two Canadians through first round at Australian Open

Leylah Fernandez opened up this year’s Australian Open by beating Czech qualifier Sara Bejlek in straight sets, 7-6 (5), 6-2. The 32nd-seed will face Alycia Parks of the United States in the second round of women’s singles.

Fernandez eyes the third round of the Australian Open for the first time in her career, though she and second-round opponent Parks have never met on tour. 

Félix Auger-Aliassime had a bit of a battle to get through his men’s singles first round match. The 27th-seed needed four hours and 59 minutes to defeat Austrian Dominic Thiem 6-3, 7-5, 6-7(5), 5-7, 6-3. The match went until 1:40 a.m. local time. This is the first Grand Slam at which Auger-Aliassime has advanced from the first round since the 2023 Australian Open.

Milos Raonic retired from his match with 10th-seeded Australian Alex de Minaur in the third set. Raonic had taken the first set in a tiebreak, but just nine games into it, he had to take a medical timeout to treat an apparent hip issue. After de Minaur claimed the second set and went up 2-0 in the third, Raonic decided that he could not continue. Denis Shapovalov lost his first round match to Czech qualifier Jakub Mensik in straight sets.

Rebecca Marino will play her first round match against fifth-seeded American Jessica Pegula early Tuesday morning (Canadian time).

Figure Skating: New and returning national champions crowned

Kaiya Ruiter is on her way to the Gangwon 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games as senior Canadian champion. The 17-year-old defeated two-time national champion Madeline Schizas at the Canadian National Skating Championships in Calgary.

In second after the short program, Ruiter delivered a strong free skate to leap to the top of the podium. Schizas had some uncharacteristic struggles with several of her jump landings and ended up with the silver medal. Hetty Shi moved up from sixth after the short program to claim bronze with the second-best free skate of the day.

The gold medals in ice dance and pairs went exactly as anticipated. Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier returned to win their third national ice dance title after missing last year’s competition while Gilles recovered from surgery for ovarian cancer. The reigning world bronze medallists finished more than 22 points clear of the field. Marie-Jade Lauriault & Romain Le Gac took the silver while Alicia Fabbri & Paul Ayer won bronze.

Deanna Stellato-Dudek & Maxime Deschamps successfully defended their national title in pairs, finishing more than 12 points ahead of silver medallists Lia Pereira & Trennt Michaud. Both of those teams had qualified for the Grand Prix Final in December. Kelly Ann Laurin & Loucas Éthier took the bronze medal.

There is a new national champion in the men’s event. Eighteen-year-old Wesley Chiu had more than a 13-point lead after the short program and held on for the victory ahead of 19-year-old Aleksa Rakic and 16-year-old Anthony Paradis, who will both go on to compete at the ISU Junior World Championships. Chiu had won bronze the last two years at the nationals.