Weekend Roundup: Clarke wins world skeleton gold, Team Homan becomes Team Canada

It was another weekend packed with wins for Team Canada athletes.

Hallie Clarke made history at the IBSF World Championships in Winterberg, Germany, while Brittany Phelan earned her long-awaited first World Cup victory in ski cross. Plus, the Canadian women’s rugby team gave the home fans in Vancouver a big thrill and Team Homan went undefeated at the Tournament of Hearts in Calgary.

Here’s a quick rundown of things you might have missed:

Skeleton: Clarke becomes youngest women’s world champion ever

At just 19-years-old, Hallie Clarke is a world champion. She surprised even herself on Friday when she won the gold medal after four fast heats at the IBSF World Championships in Winterberg, Germany — on the same track on which she won the Junior U20 World title last year.

READ: Hallie Clarke crowned women’s skeleton world champion

Her time of 3:51.27 gave her the victory by 0.22 over Belgium’s Kim Meylemans. Clarke is the youngest ever world champion in women’s skeleton and just the second Canadian to ever win the title, 21 years after Michelle Kelly did it in 2003.

“It’s crazy, it still feels like a dream,” said Clarke. “It was my goal today just to have fun no matter what. I never expected to be in this position. I have been very nervous, I’m still shaking from al the adrenaline, but I tried to remind myself that I love sliding and racing.“

Ski Cross: Phelan races to first World Cup win

Eight years after competing in her first FIS World Cup ski cross race, Brittany Phelan finally earned her first career victory. In Reiteralm, Austria on Sunday, Phelan skied to her 17th career podium performance, but for the first time, no one crossed the finish line in front of her.

READ: Brittany Phelan races to her first World Cup gold

At 32 years old, Phelan is having one of her best seasons. With five podiums so far, she is now ranked third in the World Cup standings. That is the same position she finished in 2017-18, during which she also won Olympic silver at PyeongChang 2018. Teammate Marielle Thompson continues to lead the women’s World Cup standings, despite a 13th-place finish in Reiteralm. There are two stops remaining on the circuit for the season.

On Saturday, Reece Howden finished fourth in the men’s big final. The two-time Crystal Globe winner still leads the men’s World Cup standings.

Rugby: Canadian women take bronze at SVNS Vancouver

The Canadian Women’s Sevens Team defeated current series leader Australia to finish third at the SVNS Vancouver on Sunday.

After being tied 7-7 at the half, Chloe Daniels quickly put Canada ahead with a try. Three minutes later, Charity Williams extended the lead with another try, followed by a conversion by Olivia Apps. A late score by Australia cut into the lead, but it wasn’t enough as Canada won 19-14.

“The atmosphere here compares to no other tournament,” said Krissy Scurfield. “Our fans are so loyal. You can hear them cheering us on. It just gives us the energy to push through those hard moments.”

Canada had ended up in the bronze medal match after dropping their semifinal to the eventual champions, New Zealand. That had followed a 12-10 win over the United States in the quarterfinals.

The bronze is Canada’s best finish so far in the four stops of the 2023-24 SVNS. The Canadian women and men will now head to Los Angeles for another SVNS stop this coming weekend, March 1-3.

Curling: Team Homan wins Tournament of Hearts

Six years after her last national title, Rachel Homan skipped her squad to an undefeated record at the 2024 Tournament of Hearts in Calgary.

Alongside vice-skip Tracy Fleury, second Emma Miskew, lead Sarah Wilkes, and alternate Rachel Brown, Homan defeated a legend of the game in Sunday’s final as her Ontario-based team took down Jennifer Jones and her Manitoba team 5-4. Jones had announced just before the start of the national championship that she would be retiring from women’s curling at the end of the season.

This is Homan’s fourth national title. Team Homan will now become Team Canada for the World Women’s Curling Championship taking place March 16-24 in Sydney, Nova Scotia.

Athletics: World and national indoor records broken

Christopher Morales-Williams stunned everyone when he clocked in at 44.49 seconds to win the 400m at the SEC Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas on Saturday.

That is a world record time for the short track 400m, pending the usual ratification procedures by World Athletics. The 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Georgia took nearly a second off his previous personal best (45.39).

That had followed a pair of national records set by Canadians earlier in the week. Sarah Mitton set the national indoor record in the women’s shot put when she threw 20.08m at a World Indoor Tour meet in the Czech Republic. Pole vaulter Alysha Newman flew over the bar set at 4.83m at the All Star Perche in Clermont-Ferrand, France on Thursday.

BMX Racing: Simpson finishes just off podium twice in Brisbane

Molly Simpson finished fourth in back-to-back races at the UCI BMX Racing World Cup in Brisbane, Australia. Reaching the eight-woman final on both Saturday and Sunday was an improvement from the first two rounds of the circuit in Rotorua, New Zealand earlier in the month where Simpson placed 11th and 15th.

The next two rounds of the World Cup circuit won’t take place until April 27-28 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Simpson is now ranked sixth in the World Cup standings, while Canada is ninth in the BMX Racing Olympic Qualification Women’s Ranking. It is that latter ranking which will be used to allocate Olympic quota spots on June 4.

Ski Jumping: Two top-six finishes for Loutitt

Alexandria Loutitt added to her impressive 2023-24 campaign with two near-podium finishes over the weekend. She placed fifth on Saturday and sixth on Saturday in the normal hill events at the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup stop in Hinzenbach, Austria. Saturday’s performance saw her end up just 1.1 points out of third place.

With 710 points, Loutitt sits fourth in the World Cup standings behind Nika Prevc of Slovenia (1079), Eva Pinkelnig of Austria (871) and Japan’s Yuki Ito (826). There are still five more stops before the end of March, which include the first flying hill events of the season for the women.

Wrestling: Pan Am podiums ahead of Olympic qualifier

Several Canadian wrestlers put up strong performances at the Pan American Championships in preparation for the continental Olympic qualifier that starts on Wednesday in Acapulco, Mexico.

The most notable was Olivia Di Bacco, who won gold in the women’s 68kg event. She had a dominant win in the semifinals but then didn’t have to wrestle the final after her opponent had to withdraw due to injury. Ana Godinez Gonzalez took the silver medal in the women’s 62kg event after being defeated by American Kayla Miracle in a tight final. But the Canadian earned enough seeding points to avoid being put on the same side of the bracket as Miracle for the Olympic Qualifier.

There are two Olympic spots available per weight class at the Pan Am Olympic Qualifier. Any Canadian who earns a spot will get their ticket to Paris 2024 as they already won the national trials in December.