Alex Goodlett/International Skating Union via Getty Images - COC/Mark Blinch - THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alex Goodlett/International Skating Union via Getty Images - COC/Mark Blinch - THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

5 Team Canada sports to watch this weekend: January 26-28

Another action-packed weekend is upon us as some Team Canada athletes chase Olympic qualification while others are on the hunt for World Cup medals. This weekend also includes an annual highlight of the snowboard and freestyle skiing calendar — the Winter X Games in Aspen.

Here are a few sports you’ll want to keep an eye on over the coming days:


The 2024 ILCA 7 World Championships begin this weekend in Adelaide, Australia. The regatta will run January 26-31 and includes eight Canadian sailors fighting to qualify a boat for Canada in the event at Paris 2024. This is the third of four Olympic qualification opportunities for the ILCA 7 class. There are seven Olympic spots available at the world championships, which can only go to countries not yet qualified in the event. Should Canada qualify a boat, the athlete who would sail it at Paris 2024 will be determined following another regatta in early April.

The regatta will mark the return of two-time Olympian Mike Leigh, who placed ninth in the Laser class (now ILCA 7) at Beijing 2008. That remains Team Canada’s best ever result in the class. With the world championships taking place near where Leigh now lives in Australia, he was inspired to jump in to try and qualify a boat for Canada.

Team Canada will also be represented by Fillah Karim, who competed at the Santiago 2023 Pan Am Games, as well as Ben Flower, Norman Struthers, Ryan Anderson, Liam Bruce, James Juhasz, and Luke Ruitenberg.

Also on the near horizon are the 2024 iQFoil World Championships, which are happening January 29-February 3 in Lanzarote, Spain. This is the first of two regattas that will be used to determine who would represent Canada in windsurfing at Paris 2024, should quota spots be earned at the Last Chance Regatta in late April.

Athletes to watch include five-time Olympian Nikola Girke, who is daring to dream of a sixth appearance at the Olympic Games. Girke competed in the RS:X windsurfing class at Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Tokyo 2020, and only started training on an iQFoil in November 2023.

Team Canada is also represented on the women’s side by Rebecca Heller, who competed at Santiago 2023. Cyrus (Cheuk Hin) Lai will be the only Canadian in the men’s event.

Snowboard Cross and Ski Cross

There are both FIS Snowboard Cross and Ski Cross World Cups taking place in St. Moritz, Switzerland this weekend. The snowboard cross competition will run January 25-26, followed by ski cross on January 27-28.

SBX qualifying took place on Thursday. In the men’s event, Eliot Grondin was the fastest qualifier heading into Friday’s knockout rounds. He’ll be joined in those heats by Evan Bichon and Liam Moffatt. Meryeta O’Dine is the only Canadian who advanced to the knockout rounds in the women’s event. Their last World Cup race was in mid-December.

Meanwhile, the Canadian ski cross team will look to continue their recent hot streak.

Hannah Schmidt is coming off of a double gold performance on home snow at the World Cup in Nakiska last weekend. Marielle Thompson and Brittany Phelan also found the podium in Nakiska. On the men’s side, Reece Howden topped the podium once in Nakiska. That followed Jared Schmidt‘s three World Cup victories in December.

Freestyle Skiing – Moguls

Team Canada’s ski cross athletes aren’t the only ones looking to build on the momentum a home snow medal haul.

At the FIS Freestyle World Cup in Val St-Come last weekend, Elliot Vaillancourt won moguls silver on a night when the GOAT, Mikaël Kingsbury, had a rare fall during one of his runs. Kingsbury bounced back to take dual moguls gold the next night.

The King of Moguls will look to add to his count of eight podiums this season as the circuit heads south of the border to Walterville, New Hampshire. This is the first time that the venue will host a freestyle skiing World Cup.

Long Track Speed Skating

After winning a dozen medals at the ISU Four Continents Championships last weekend, Canada’s long track speed skaters will be back in action at the Utah Olympic Oval over the next few days as Salt Lake City hosts the fifth leg of the ISU 2023-24 Speed Skating World Cup.

The trio of Isabelle Weidemann, Ivanie Blondin and Valérie Maltais will be back on the start line for the team pursuit on Saturday. They won gold at Four Continents as they reunited after Weidemann did not compete at two World Cup stops in December to focus instead on her world championship preparations.

Maltais and Blondin sit second and third, respectively, in the overall World Cup standings for the women’s mass start which will be raced on Sunday. They, along with Weidemann, will start in the women’s 3000m on Friday; Maltais is third in the overall World Cup rankings for the long distance events.

A specialist in men’s sprint events, Laurent Dubreuil will be on the start line for his first 1000m on Friday, and then line up for the 500m on Saturday before taking part in a second 1000m on Sunday. He is currently second in the season’s overall ranking in the 500m.

Graeme Fish and Ted-Jan Bloemen will compete in the men’s 5000m on Sunday; the latter is currently third in the overall World Cup rankings for men’s long distance events.

Canada’s speed skaters will then return home, as the sixth and final World Cup of the season will be held in Quebec City, February 2-4. That will be followed by the World Single Distances Championships in Calgary, February 15-18.

X Games

This weekend will showcase the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado, a highlight of the snowboard and freestyle skiing calendar. Reserved for a handful of invited athletes, the big event held annually at Buttermilk Mountain includes big air, slopestyle, and superpipe events.

Mark McMorris, gold medallist in men’s snowboard slopestyle last year, will be looking to defend his title on Sunday. He will also compete in the snowboard big air event on Saturday, giving him two more opportunities to add to his impressive medal haul at the X Games. McMorris has won 22 medals at this competition, making him the most decorated athlete in the history of the Winter X Games.

Laurie Blouin will be in action in the women’s snowboard big air on Sunday, an event in which she won bronze last year, thanks in particular to her cab triple underflip 1260. She was the first woman snowboarder to land this maneuver successfully in competition. Brooke D’Hondt will be looking to make her mark in the women’s snowboard superpipe on Friday.

In freestyle skiing, Amy Fraser and Dillan Glennie will be competing in the women’s superpipe event on Saturday, while Olivia Asselin will be taking part in the women’s slopestyle event on Sunday.

Edouard Therriault will line up in the men’s ski big air on Friday. In the men’s ski slopestyle event on Saturday, Max Moffatt, silver medallist in 2022, and Evan McEachran, silver medallist in 2020 and bronze medallist in 2021, will be competing for a place on the podium. In the men’s ski superpipe on Sunday, reigning world halfpipe champion Brendan Mackay, X Games bronze medallist in 2020, will be looking to make a return to the podium.