THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh - AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati - Swimming Canada/Ian MacNicol
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh - AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati - Swimming Canada/Ian MacNicol

Weekend Roundup: Team Canada secures medals & Olympic spots in the pool, has best speed skating worlds ever

There were plenty of podium moments by Team Canada athletes this past weekend across many winter sports as well as a few summer ones, particularly in the pool at the World Aquatics Championships.

Canadians won 10 medals and set a world record at the ISU World Speed Skating Single Distances Championships in Calgary while overall titles were secured at the conclusion of the ISU World Cup Short Track circuit in Poland. Plus a couple of rising alpine stars showed their stuff on the slopes in Norway.

Here are some of the highlights from this weekend’s performances:

Swimming: Canada wins 7 medals at World Aquatics Championships

Team Canada came away from the 2024 World Aquatics Championships with one gold, one silver, and five bronze medals as well as Olympic quota spots secured in all seven relay events.

Team Canada Paris 2024 Qualification Tracker

On the final day, Ingrid Wilm, Sophie Angus, Rebecca Smith and Taylor Ruck captured the bronze medal in the women’s 4x100m medley relay. That was Wilm’s third medal of the meet, following her bronze medals in the women’s 50m and 100m backstroke events.

Fourn Team Canada swimmers stand on a podium
Taylor Ruck, Rebecca Smith, Sophie Angus, and Ingrid Wilm with their bronze medals won the women’s 4x100m medley relay at the 2024 World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar (Swimming Canada/Ian MacNicol)

The big highlight of the week was Finlay Knox‘s gold medal in the men’s 200m individual medley, his first career world championship medal. Sydney Pickrem was Canada’s other individual medallist, taking silver in the women’s 200m IM and bronze in the women’s 200m breaststroke. She had also swam in the heats of the medley relay, which gave her seven career medals at the World Aquatics Championships.

READ: Finlay Knox crowned world champion in 200m IM, Wilm wins second backstroke bronze
READ: Sydney Pickrem wins 200m breaststroke bronze in Doha

With the 2024 World Aquatics Championships coming in a condensed schedule between the 2023 Worlds last summer in Fukuoka, Japan and the looming Paris 2024 Olympic Games, several of Canada’s top swimmers opted out on the event.

Water Polo: Canada qualifies for Paris 2024

It might not have come in quite they way they imagined, but Canada’s women’s water polo team has qualified for a second straight Olympic Games.

There were two Olympic berths available at the 2024 World Aquatics Championships. After losing to Italy in the 7-8 classification game, it appeared Canada’s hopes were dashed. But when South Africa relinquished its allocated spot as the African continental representative, Canada was in for Paris 2024 as the highest-ranked team at the worlds not yet qualified. Canada has been drawn into Group A for the Olympic tournament, alongside Hungary, Australia, China, and the Netherlands.

Long Track: Canadians grab 10 world championship medals on home ice

Canada had its most successful ISU World Speed Skating Single Distances Championships ever, taking 10 medals on home ice at the Olympic Oval in Calgary.

READ: Canada wins 10 medals at World Single Distances Championships

Team Canada kicked off the first day of competition with two gold, one silver, and a world record. It started with Isabelle Weidemann becoming vice world champion in the women’s 3000m, her first world championship medal in an individual event. Then in the non-Olympic team sprint events, Canada won gold in both the men’s and women’s events. The trio of Anders Johnson, Laurent Dubreuil and Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu set a new world record of 1:17.173 during their gold medal performance. The women’s squad was composed of Carolina Hiller, Maddison Pearman and Ivanie Blondin.

On day two, Canada added three more medals. Valérie Maltais, Blondin and Weidemann won silver in the women’s team pursuit, while Connor Howe, Gélinas-Beaulieu and Hayden Mayeur took bronze in the men’s team pursuit. Dubreuil rounded off Canada’s successful day by winning silver in the men’s 500m.

Day three brought a pair of silver medals for Blondin and Gélinas-Beaulieu in the mass start events. The fourth and final day of competition on Sunday saw Ted-Jan Bloemen skate to a silver medal in the men’s 10,000m. He was joined on the podium by Graeme Fish, who finished with a bronze medal.

Short Track: Double gold for Dubois at World Cup finale

Canada won six medals at the last ISU World Cup Short Track stop of the 2023-24 season in Gdansk, Poland.

On Sunday, Steven Dubois won 500m gold, adding to the silver he won in the distance on Saturday. Also on Sunday, he was a member of the men’s 5000m relay that won gold, as Canada secured the overall World Cup title in the event. Three members of that squad — Jordan Pierre-Gilles, Dubois, and Félix Roussel — finished 1-2-3 in the overall World Cup standings for the 500m.

READ: Steven Dubois strikes gold, Canadians capture six medals

“We knew we had to win the final, so I was very aggressive throughout the race to set the pace and show that we were the strongest,” Roussell said post-race. “Winning gold and the overall ranking just before the Worlds shows that we have what it takes to be crowned World Champions in a month’s time, and that’s our goal.”

Dubois came just shy of claiming the Crystal Globe in the overall classification, finishing second to South Korea’s Park Ji Won by just 19 points (1071 vs 1052).

The other Canadian gold medal this weekend came from Pascal Dion in the men’s 1500m. Though he was unable to compete because of injury, William Dandjinou still earned the overall season title in the distance. Kim Boutin — who had only returned to international competition the week prior — took bronze in Saturday’s women’s 500m. She teamed up with Rikki Doak, Pierre-Gilles and Maxime Laoun to bring home a bronze medal in the mixed relay event.

Alpine Skiing: Cameron Alexander & Jeff Read secure podiums in Norway

It was an exceptional weekend for Canada’s Cameron Alexander and Jeffrey Read at the FIS Alpine World Cup speed races in Kvitfjell, Norway.

In Saturday’s downhill, Alexander captured his second podium of the season, finishing third in a time of one minute 44.81 seconds. That put him 0.19 back of the winner, Niels Hintermann of Switzerland. Read placed sixth, just one spot lower than his then-career-best World Cup result.

READ: Cameron Alexander claims World Cup downhill bronze in Norway

The script was flipped for Sunday’s super-G. Read raced to a time of 1:09.40 to finish second, just 0.02 ahead of a tie for third place, to earn his first career World Cup podium. Alexander was fifth in the super-G, just 0.04 back of his teammate.

READ: Jeff Read captured first World Cup podium with super-G silver

“This is a track that is definitely one of our best, if not for sure our best,” Read said post-race. “There is something about the snow, I think, being a bit similar to home, and terrain that we’re really comfortable on, and we have a lot of confidence, so it kind of clicks every time we’re here, and it’s nice to finally be able to capitalize on it for myself.”

It is the first time since March 2022 that Canada had multiple podiums in one alpine World Cup weekend. That also happened in Kvitfjell, where Alexander earned the downhill victory for his first career World Cup podium.

The super-G result punched Read’s ticket to the limited field of 25 that will race the FIS World Cup Final in Saalbach, Austria. He’ll be joined by Alexander and Jack Crawford, who also qualified for the downhill finale.

Judo: Three Canadians climb podium in Baku

After taking silver two weeks ago at the IJF Grand Slam in Paris, Christa Deguchi was back on top of the women’s 57kg podium at the Grand Slam in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Following a hard-fought semifinal in which she defeated Eteri Liparteliani of Georgia, Deguchi did not have to compete in the final since her opponent, Nora Gjakova of Kosovo, had to default due to an injury. Consequently, it took Deguchi four victories to earn her ninth career Grand Slam title.

Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard finished with the silver medal in the women’s 63kg category on Saturday. She led the action from the very beginning of the final match, but ultimately bowed out to her opponent  Lubjana Piovesana of Austria. Although the Canadian made numerous attacks right out of the gate, she was unable to clinch the win. In the end, Piovesana scored an ippon after more than four minutes of overtime.

Over on the men’s side, Arthur Margelidon ended a 15-month Grand Slam medal drought after securing bronze in the 73kg event. With just a few seconds remaining in regulation time, he scored a waza-ari to secure the win. Margelidon’s last Grand Slam medal also came in Baku in November 2022.

Ski Halfpipe: Fraser & Mackay thrill home fans in Calgary

The annual Snow Rodeo FIS Freeski Halfpipe World Cup events hit Calgary’s Olympic Park this weekend. There were two Canadian podiums on Thursday night, as Amy Fraser and Brendan Mackay finished second in the women’s and men’s events, respectively.

READ: Brendan Mackay and Amy Fraser reach Calgary freestyle podium

Fraser went on to finish fourth in the second final of the weekend on Saturday. That meant she placed in the top five in all five World Cup events this season, including three podiums. She finished second in the season’s overall standings behind only China’s Eileen Gu. Mackay was also the top Canadian in the second men’s event, finishing seventh.

Bobsleigh & Skeleton: Canadians oh so close to podiums

Mirela Rahneva slid just 0.01 short of the IBSF World Cup skeleton podium on Friday as she matched her career-best fourth-place finish on one of the world’s most challenging tracks in Altenberg, Germany.

“I can’t get any closer to a medal than .01 so I’m happy to be pushing for podiums,” said Rahneva, who was also fourth in Altenberg one year ago. “This track has been notoriously difficult for me, so overall I’m happy with the progress that I have made here.”

In the mixed team skeleton event — which will be new to the Olympic program in 2026 — Jane Channell and Blake Enzie slid to fifth place, just 0.03 from the podium.

In the women’s monobob event on Saturday, Cynthia Appiah finished in fifth place. Hitting the track for two-woman bobsleigh on Sunday, Appiah drove her and brakewoman Morgan Ramsay to an eighth-place finish.