Weekend Roundup: Women’s basketball team Olympic-bound, Nick Taylor wins Phoenix Open
Team Canada fans had lots to get excited about this weekend, with the Canadian women’s basketball squad securing their Paris 2024 qualification, Nick Taylor adding another PGA title to his name, and medals galore on snow and in the pool.
Here’s what happened this weekend:
Basketball: Women’s national team qualifies for Paris 2024
Team Canada is headed to Paris 2024 following a dramatic day at the FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Sopron, Hungary. The team managed to finish in the top three of the so-called “Group of Death”.
Despite a four-point loss to Japan on Sunday, Canada qualified thanks to Spain’s incredible come-from-behind win over the host Hungarians. Hungary led by as many as 22 points against a Spanish team ranked 14 spots above them in the FIBA rankings. Though the Spaniards already had their Olympic spot secured, they didn’t rest on that achievement and staged the comeback that gave Canada’s national women’s basketball team a fourth straight trip to the Olympics.
Golf: Nick Taylor wins Phoenix Open
PGA Tour members are learning they don’t want to go against Nick Taylor in a playoff.
The golfer from Abbotsford, B.C. cemented his place in Canadian golf lore last summer with a 72-foot eagle putt on a fourth playoff hole to win the RBC Canadian Open over Tommy Fleetwood. This weekend, Taylor demonstrated that magic touch again at the Phoenix Open. He rallied from three shots down with four holes left to play in the final round and then made an 11-foot birdie putt to take down Charley Hoffman on the second playoff hole.
The win marks Taylor’s fourth PGA Tour victory. He rises to a career-high 28th in the Official World Golf Ranking, which makes him the top-ranked Canadian man. In just a few months, those rankings will be used to determine which two Canadian men will qualify for Paris 2024.
Taylor had shot a career-low round of 60 (-11) during the weather-delayed opening round on Friday.
Short Track Speed Skating: Six World Cup medals in Dresden
Canadian short trackers welcomed the resumption of the ISU World Cup circuit in Dresden, Germany with six trips to the podium.
On Saturday, William Dandjinou earned his third 1500m victory of the season, while in the men’s 1000m, Félix Roussel and Steven Dubois shared the podium, capturing silver and bronze, respectively.
On Sunday, Roussel added another gold medal to Canada’s tally, taking the victory in the men’s 500m for his first individual World Cup win. He was joined on the podium by fellow Canadian Jordan Pierre-Gilles who took silver for his fourth medal of the season in the distance.
The Canadian medal haul was rounded out by a silver from the women’s 3000m relay team. Danaé Blais, Kim Boutin, Claudia Gagnon, and Courtney Sarault raced in the final. Dresden marked Boutin’s return to the World Cup circuit after she opted out of racing during the fall.
Ski Cross: Two wins for Thompson, seven straight for Canadian women
Marielle Thompson won both FIS World Cup races this weekend in Bakuriani, Georgia. She has now strung together three consecutive victories and has stood atop the podium in four of the last five races. Altogether, Canadian women have won the last seven World Cup events.
On Saturday, Thompson and teammate Brittany Phelan finished 1-2, marking the sixth time that two Canadian women had shared a ski cross World Cup podium this season. India Sherret won the small final to finish fifth overall.
“It was super special to sing Oh Canada together,” Thompson told Alpine Canada. “This course is fun to ski with lots of jumps and action, and you need to ski well to be fast. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and hoping to ski even better.”
Thompson and Sherret were both in Sunday’s big final, but only Thompson made it to the podium with Sherret placing fourth. Phelan was second in the small final for sixth place overall. Thompson leads the overall World Cup standings, with Hannah Schmidt in third and Phelan in fourth.
Aerials: Thénault & Nadeau reach podium on home snow
It was the second podium of the season for Thénault, but her first since the season opening stop in early December. Shortly after, she had a bad crash in training that took her out of competition. She only returned to the World Cup circuit a week ago.
For Nadeau, it was his second career podium performance. He previously placed third in March 2023 in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Teammate Lewis Irving had a near-podium finish on Sunday when he placed fourth in the second aerials event of the weekend.
Diving: More qualifications for Paris 2024
Canadian divers locked up three more qualifications for Paris 2024 at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar.
It started on Tuesday with a spot secured in the women’s 10m synchro thanks to the sixth-place finish by Caeli McKay and Kate Miller. On Thursday, Nathan Zsombor-Murray and Rylan Wiens secured their spot in the men’s 10m synchro event with their fifth-place finish.
On Saturday, Wiens placed fifth in the individual men’s 10m platform, which earned a second Olympic quota spot for Canada in the event. Zsombor-Murray, who placed ninth in that final, had qualified Canada’s first quota spot in the event at last year’s world championships.
Swimming: Canada wins first medal at 2024 Worlds
Team Canada snagged bronze in the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha. The quartet who raced in the final included Rebecca Smith, Sarah Fournier, Katerine Savard, and Taylor Ruck. Ella Jansen had raced in the heats. The Canadian time of 3:37.95 put them 1.34 back of the gold medallists from the Netherlands. Australia took silver in 3:36.93.
Canada is well positioned to qualify both the women’s and men’s 4x100m freestyle relays for Paris 2024, though that may not be officially confirmed until June. Canada is well within the top 13 times achieved at this year’s and last year’s world championships by countries who didn’t earn Olympic qualification by winning a medal in the event at the 2023 Worlds.
Elsewhere, Summer McIntosh had the world buzzing when she defeated American Katie Ledecky in the 800m freestyle on Thursday at a meet in Orlando, Florida. The 17-year-old clocked a time of 8:11.39 to break the decade-old Canadian record in the event by close to nine seconds. Ledecky hadn’t lost an 800m freestyle final since 2010 while also racking up the top 29 times in the history of the event. She now only holds the top 16 times with McIntosh slotting in as the second fastest woman ever in the distance. McIntosh has not raced the 800m freestyle at the world championships.
Water Polo: Top 8 finish for Team Canada
The Canadian women’s team made it to the quarterfinals at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar. They got there with a 14-12 win over New Zealand in the crossover Round of 16 on Saturday.
Unfortunately, they ran into a tough Spanish team in that quarterfinal on Monday. Though the Canadians outscored them in the last two quarters, it wasn’t enough to complete the comeback and Spain took the 12-9 victory.
The world championships are the last Olympic qualifier for water polo and there are two spots in the women’s tournament up for grabs. Canada will have to watch the remaining quarterfinals on Monday to see if those spots are taken by Hungary and Italy or if the 5-8 classification matches will be needed to decide who gets the Olympic berths.
Alpine Skiing: Nullmeyer into top 10 in Soldeu
Ali Nullmeyer took seventh place in the slalom on Sunday at the FIS Alpine World Cup in Soldeu, Andorra.
After the first run, Nullmeyer was standing just off the podium in fourth position, but a seventh place in the second run dropped her down. it’s her third top 10 finish of the season.