OIS/Thomas Lovelock - Harry How/International Skating Union via Getty Images - AP Photo/Dita Alangkara
OIS/Thomas Lovelock - Harry How/International Skating Union via Getty Images - AP Photo/Dita Alangkara

Weekend Roundup: Medal rush weekend for Team Canada

It was a productive weekend for Team Canada, with athletes climbing the podium across the full spectrum of winter sports.

Among the highlights were three gold medals at the Winter Youth Olympic Games, a six-medal weekend by the speed skaters, and a big career breakthrough in badminton for Brian Yang.

Here’s what happened:

Gangwon 2024: Team Canada athletes win three gold medals at YOG

A couple of Canadians put on quite a show on Sunday at the big air venue at the Gangwon 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games.

First up was freestyle skier Charlie Beatty, who had been one of Team Canada’s Opening Ceremony flag bearers. After missing the podium in slopestyle (in which he is the reigning junior world champion), he bounced back to top the podium in men’s big air. He delivered three outstanding runs in the final that each scored 86.50, 89.25 and 88.50. His two best totaled 177.75 to give him the victory by 3.25 points.

“I’m very relieved. Not putting it down in slopestyle was a little frustrating for me so I had to come out here and really buckle down. To have this medal around my neck is a big relief for me. My second run was my favourite one, the switch double cork 1440 tail grab. I went pretty big and was able to stomp the landing pretty good and held the grab, so I think that gave me a pretty good score to end up winning the gold medal,” said Beatty.

Just a couple of hours later, snowboarder Eli Bouchard earned his second medal in Gangwon. He followed up his slopestyle silver a few days earlier with big air gold. His two best runs scored 92.25 and 91.00 to total 183.25, giving him a margin of victory of 3.75 points.

“I feel really great. I worked hard for that and am really happy with my runs today. Practice didn’t go that great, but I am happy that I managed to do it (in the final). I got a gold and a silver, so yeah, I think it went great. This was a great experience,” said Bouchard.

Then on Monday, some history was made as figure skaters Annika Behnke and Kole Sauve won gold in the pairs event. It is Canada’s first ever YOG medal in an individual figure skating event. Canada had only previously won medals in the mixed NOC team event.

Canada’s medal count at Gangwon 2024 stands at three gold and two silver. The competition continues through Thursday.

Long Track Speed Skating: Six medals in Salt Lake City

Valérie Maltais kicked off a three-medal weekend for herself on Friday with a bronze in the women’s 3000m at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating in Salt Lake City, Utah. It’s her first career World Cup medal in the distance and comes on the heels of her gold medal in the event at last weekend’s Four Continents Championships on the same ice.

On Saturday, she was joined by Isabelle Weidemann, and Ivanie Blondin as they cruised to gold in the women’s team pursuit. Canada finished 1.44 seconds ahead of Japan, the leaders in the overall World Cup standings.

READ: Canada takes gold in team pursuit, Dubreuil adds silver

Blondin skated to another gold on Sunday, taking the victory in the women’s mass start. She beat Irene Schouten of the Netherlands to the finish line by 0.11 of a second. It was a double podium for Canada as Maltais earned her second bronze of the weekend. Maltais is now number one and Blondin is number two in the overall World Cup standings for the event.

On the men’s side of things, Laurent Dubreuil won silver in Saturday’s 500m with a time of 34.05 seconds. He was 0.09 back of American star Jordan Stolz, who was coming off a world record-setting performance in the 1000m on Friday. Dubreuil is second in the overall World Cup standings for the 500m.

Ted-Jan Bloemen finished with a bronze in the men’s 5000m. His time of 6:06.88 left him 3.90 seconds behind the winner, Patrick Roest of the Netherlands. Bloemen is third in the men’s long distance season standings. Connor Howe had a near-podium finish in the men’s 1500m, missing out on the bronze by just 0.06 of a second.

The Canadians will next race at home as the World Cup circuit comes to Quebec City this weekend.

Alpine Skiing: Grenier surprises even herself with downhill bronze

Valérie Grenier had no great expectations for her first downhill start in five years on Friday. But on the slopes of Cortina d’Ampezzo — which will host the women’s alpine events during the 2026 Olympic Winter Games — she skied to a third-place finish.

READ: Valérie Grenier wins bronze in the downhill at the Cortina d’Ampezzo World Cup

It was a more crowded podium than usual as she was part of a three-way tie for bronze with Austria’s Christina Ager and Italy’s Sofia Goggia. They all finished with an identical time of 1:33.77 to place behind champion Stephanie Venier of Austria (1:33.06) and runner-up Lara Gut-Behrami of Switzerland (1:33.45).

This is Grenier’s fourth career World Cup medal and her second this season, but it is the first in a discipline other than giant slalom. Sadly, her thrill was short-lived. Grenier crashed during Sunday’s super-G race and had to be assisted off the mountain. She was diagnosed with a shoulder injury that will likely require surgery. Alpine Canada will share more information after a further medical assessment.

In other alpine news, Jack Crawford placed fifth in Sunday’s men’s super-G race in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. His time of 1:10.89 left him just 0.15 out of a podium position.

The reigning super-G world champion is currently seventh in the overall World Cup classification of the discipline.

Moguls: The King keeps winning

Two podiums in one weekend is nothing new for Mikaël Kingsbury, but Saturday’s gold in dual moguls at the FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup in Waterville, New Hampshire carried some special significance.

READ: Kingsbury wins dual moguls gold, moves up a spot in career FIS victories

Kingsbury has moved into a tie for sixth in career World Cup wins across all skiing disciplines, equalling Swedish alpine racing icon Ingemar Stenmark with victory number 86.

“Tying a legend is unbelievable,” Kingsbury said. “I know getting to 86 takes a long time, you have to be at the top of the sport for over 10 years. Yeah, joining that level for me is indescribable.”

The day before, Kingsbury had finished third in the moguls. If you’re keeping count, he now has 125 career World Cup podiums.

Ski Jumping: Loutitt soars to another podium

Make it six World Cup podiums this season for 20-year-old Calgarian Alexandria Loutitt.

READ: Loutitt jumps to her sixth World Cup podium of the season in Slovenia

She followed up a double medal performance last week in Japan by soaring to bronze on Saturday at the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup in Ljunbo, Slovenia. She was ranked third in each of the first and second rounds of the final, earning scores of 128.7 and 130.2 for a total of 258.9 points. She was joined in the Top 10 by Abigail Strate, who finished seventh.

On Sunday, Loutitt finished just off the podium, placing fourth, despite posting a higher score than she had the day before. Strate got into the top-10 again, placing eighth. Loutitt now sits fourth in the overall World Cup standings with Strate in seventh.

Ski Cross: Thompson and Schmidt are regulars on the podium

For a second consecutive week, Marielle Thompson and Hannah Schmidt delivered a Canadian double podium at the FIS Ski Cross World Cup, this time in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

READ: Ski cross: Canadian double on the podium in St. Moritz

It was a reversal of roles as Thompson took the victory, her first on the World Cup circuit since December 2021. Schmidt earned the bronze medal. Fanny Smith of Switzerland inserted herself between the two Canadians on the podium.

With the result, Schmidt takes the lead in the World Cup classification for the discipline while Thompson moves into third.

Two Canadian women had advanced to the small final in St. Moritz. Brittany Phelan won that to finish fifth overall while Abby McEwen ended up in seventh. Reece Howden was the top Canadian in the men’s event, finishing fourth in the big final.

Snowboard Cross: Second victory of season for Grondin

Eliot Grondin scored his second victory of the season at the FIS Snowboard Cross World Cup in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

READ: Grondin tops podium at World Cup in St. Moritz

He was practically perfect throughout the competition. He recorded the fastest time in qualifying and won each of his elimination heats to get into the big final where he beat Switzerland’s Kalle Koblet and Italy’s Omar Visintin to the finish line.

Grondin has reached the podium in all three World Cup stops this season. He got a victory at the opener in Les Deux Alpes, France and a third-place finish in Cervinia, Italy in December. He leads the overall World Cup standings in men’s SBX.

X Games: McMorris wins 23rd medal

Mark McMorris won his 23rd career medal at the X Games in Aspen, Colorado as he finished second in the men’s snowboard slopestyle event.

The Canadian had been going for the three-peat after winning gold in 2022 and 2023. He scored 95.33 points on his first run, which put him in first place until American Red Gerrard scored 96.33 on his second run.

A couple of other Canadian freestyle snowboarders were medallists in the unique knuckle huck event as Liam Brearley took gold and Darcy Sharpe claimed bronze.

On the skiing side of things, Amy Fraser grabbed bronze in the superpipe event. There was also a Canadian medallist in two X Games specialty events. Olivia Asselin took gold in the women’s knuckle huck and SLVSH events, showing off some of her incredible tricks.

Badminton: Brian Yang takes big step forward with silver

Brian Yang finished as the runner-up in men’s singles at the Indonesia Masters tournament in Jakarta, a World Tour Super 500 event.

Yang earned his first ever victory against a top-five ranked player when he defeated world number three Li Shi Feng of China in the opening round, 21-18, 14-21, 23-21. After that 84-minute match, Yang eventually won his way through to the semifinals, where he defeated Indonesia’s Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, seeded third, 13-21, 21-17, 21-19.

Yang’s run came to an end against eighth-seeded Dane Anders Antonsen, who came back for a three-set win in the final. Yang is ranked 24th in the BWF men’s singles rankings.

Bobsleigh: Appiah cracks top five in monobob

Cynthia Appiah matched her best result of the IBSF World Cup season, sliding to fifth in the women’s monobob event in Lillehammer, Norway.

Appiah had an impressive performance on the 16-corner track built for the 1994 Olympic Winter Games. She clocked 1:49.16 for her two runs to finish just 0.21 of a second behind Germany’s Lisa Buckwitz for the final spot on the podium.

“Equaling my best finish of the year I feel I’ve turned a new leaf in my season and I’m confident that I’m tracking in the right direction,” Appiah told Bobsleigh Canada. The IBSF circuit now heads to Sigulda, Latvia.

Cross-Country Skiing: Top 10 breakthrough for Liliane Gagnon

Liliane Gagnon distinguished herself at the FIS Cross-Country World Cup in Goms, Switzerland. She placed ninth in the women’s 20km freestyle mass start for Canada’s best World Cup result in a women’s distance race since 2009.

Gagnon clocked a time of 45:42.4, leaving her just 14 seconds back of a podium position. It is by far the 21-year-old’s career best individual World Cup result in just her second season on the circuit.

Race Walk: New Canadian and North American record for Dunfee

Evan Dunfee posted a strong start to his season, setting a new Canadian and North American record in the 10,000m race walk.

Dunfee completed the race in 38:25.42 at the World Athletics Race Walking Tour Bronze meet in Canberra, Australia. Dunfee’s previous best time was 38:36.37, set in 2022, and stood as the national record until this weekend.

The last time Dunfee raced was in October at the Santiago 2023 Pan Am Games, where he finished ninth in the 20km race walk after returning from a hamstring injury at the World Championships in August.