THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christinne Muschi - Curling Canada/Steve Seixeiro - Costa Rican Fencing Federation/Julian Godoy
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christinne Muschi - Curling Canada/Steve Seixeiro - Costa Rican Fencing Federation/Julian Godoy

Weekend Roundup: Team Gushue secures silver at curling worlds; more Olympic qualifications for Team Canada

Team Canada athletes brought the heat this weekend, blazing their way to podium finishes and locking in Olympic qualification worldwide.

It may not have been the medal colour they were hoping for, but Team Gushue still came away from the World Men’s Curling Championship with their third straight silver.

At just 17 years old, fencer Nicholas Zhang booked his ticket to Paris 2024 in men’s individual épée. On the waters of Mallorca, Spain, Sarah Douglas and the team of Will Jones and Justin Barnes qualified themselves for nomination to Team Canada’s Olympic sailing team for Paris 2024.

Across the border in Utica, New York, the Canadian women’s hockey team got off to a solid start at the IIHF Women’s World Championship.

Here’s a quick recap of this weekend’s top stories:

Curling: Canada pushes Sweden to the limit in gold medal game

Wearing red and throwing red, Canada left it all on the ice at the 2024 World Men’s Curling Championship in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. Team Gushue — comprised of skip Brad Gushue, vice-skip Mark Nichols, second E.J. Harnden, lead Geoff Walker, and alternate Kyle Doering — fell to the reigning Olympic champions from Sweden, 6-5 in Sunday afternoon’s gold medal final.

The two teams kept fans on the edge of their seats, with Canada trailing for most of the game. Down by two in the ninth end, Gushue made a delicate tap for two to tie 5-5 heading into the final end. But that meant the Swedes had the hammer in the hands of skip Niklas Edin, who made the tough draw to the four-foot to win his seventh world title.

READ: Team Canada takes silver at the 2024 World Men’s Curling Championship

Gushue has settled for silver in four of his five world championship appearances, including the last three straight years, after winning gold in his debut in 2017 when they defeated Sweden in the final. Eden went on to get payback in the 2018 and 2022 finals. Nichols and Walker have been with Gushue at all of those worlds.

“For the fourth time, silver sucks,” Gushue said. “To be second in the world, we have to be proud of what we did, but it’s just disappointing.”

READ: Team Canada is going for gold at the Men’s World Curling Championship

Earlier on Sunday, Italy took down the defending champions from Scotland, 7-6 in an extra end, to secure the bronze medal. On Saturday, Canada rode a second-half surge to defeat Scotland’s Team Bruce Mouat 9-4 in the semifinals. A surprising error from Scotland in the sixth end allowed Canada to steal three and take a 6-3 lead.

Fencing: Teenager Zhang books ticket to Paris 2024

Team Canada’s fencing squad at Paris 2024 will include 17-year-old Nicholas Zhang, who secured his Olympic spot in the men’s individual épée with a dramatic overtime victory in the final at the FIE Pan American Zonal Qualification Event in San José, Costa Rica.

The zonal qualifier followed an initial allocation of Olympic quota spots via the FIE World Rankings. Canada had qualified full teams of three athletes each for women’s foil, men’s foil and men’s sabre, as well as an individual women’s sabre spot for Pamela Brind’Amour through that pathway.

That meant that Canada could only compete in the individual épée events at the zonal qualifier. Another teenager, 16-year-old Ruien (Angel) Xiao came up just short in the women’s épée, losing 8-7 in the final to Peru’s Maria Luisa Doig Calderon.

The names of the athletes who will be part of Canada’s foil and sabre teams at Paris 2024 will be announced in the coming weeks.

Sailing: Douglas, Jones and Barnes qualify to be nominated for Paris 2024

Three more Canadian sailors have put their names on Olympic quota spots for Paris 2024.

Sarah Douglas (ICLA 6) and Will Jones and Justin Barnes (49er) finished as the top-ranked Canadians at the conclusion of the Canadian trials for their boat classes at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia in Mallorca, Spain. Douglas had previously qualified the ILCA 6 quota spot for Canada at the 2023 World Sailing Championships while Jones and Barnes had qualified the 49er quota spot at the Santiago 2023 Pan Am Games.

Douglas finished 17th in Mallorca, which combined with her 26th place finish at the 2024 ILCA 6 World Championship put her well ahead of Clara Gravely in the Canadian rankings. In her Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020, Douglas placed sixth for the best ever Olympic result by a Canadian woman in an individual sailing event.

The race for the 49er nomination was much closer. Jones and Barnes had been the top Canadian crew at the 2024 49er World Championship, finishing 11 spots ahead of Arie Moffat and Hunter Hoy. In Mallorca, it was Moffat and Hoy who placed higher, but not by enough to make up the margin. Jones and Barnes totalled 74 points from the two competitions, compared to the 81 for Moffat and Hoy. Paris 2024 will be Jones’ second Olympic appearance while Barnes is set to compete at his first Olympic regatta.

In the 49er FX, sisters Antonia and Georgia Lewin-LaFrance, who had already qualified themselves for nomination for Paris 2024, finished fourth in very tough field at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia.

In three boat classes in which Canada still needs to secure Olympic quota spots, the sailors who will go after those spots are now known. Luke Ruitenberg (ILCA 7), Nikola Girke (women’s iQFoil), and Cyrus Lao (men’s iQFoil) finished first in the Canadian trials in those events.

Hockey: Team Canada undefeated through three games at Women’s Worlds

Team Canada posted three consecutive victories to begin the IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championship in Utica, New York.

In the curtain-raiser on Thursday, Canada defeated Finland 4-1 on goals from Brianne Jenner, Emma Maltais, Julia Gosling, and Ella Shelton. Goalkeeper Ann-Renée Desbiens made 32 saves in the victory.

On Friday, Canada played its second match against Switzerland and won 3-0. Maltais, Sarah Nurse, and Sarah Fillier scored for Canada while Marie-Philip Poulin, who is in uniform after receiving an injury in recent weeks, collected her first point of the competition. Emerance Maschmeyer made 17 saves to earn the shutout.

READ: Team Canada blanks Czechia 5-0 at the IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championship

In Sunday’s third preliminary game, Canada netted five goals for the win over Czechia. Kristin O’Neill scored twice and added an assist for Canada while Danielle Serdachny, Renata Fast, and Laura Stacey scored one goal each. Sarah Nurse had two assists. Goaltender Desbiens posted 13 saves in the Canadian net.

Canada will play its final preliminary round match on Monday night against the United States. That will determine first place in Group A. The five teams in Group A and the top three teams in Group B will advance to the quarterfinals which will take place on April 11.

Shooting: Olympic quota spot secured in men’s 50m rifle

Tye Ikeda finished second in the men’s 50m rifle 3 positions at the CAT XIV Championship in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which was enough to secure an Olympic quota spot for Canada in the event for Paris 2024. American Ivan Roe won the gold medal, but the United States had already qualified in the event, so the lone Olympic quota spot available at the continental qualifier came to Canada.

Canada is now qualified in three shooting events for Paris 2024. Quota spots in the women’s 50m rifle 3 positions and men’s 10m air pistol were earned at the Santiago 2023 Pan Am Games.

Track Cycling: Mitchell leads Canadian medal haul at Pan Am Championships

Canadian cyclists had a successful weekend at the Pan American Track Cycling Championships in Los Angeles, United States.

Kelsey Mitchell earned three medals, taking silver in the women’s team sprint with Sarah Orban and Lauriane Genest, to go with a silver in the sprint and bronze in the keirin. She just edged out Genest for the last spot on the podium in the keirin.

Canada also took silver in the men’s team sprint courtesy of Tyler Rorke, Nick Wammes, and James Hedgcock. There was a bronze medal in the men’s team pursuit by Chris Ernst, Cameron Fitzmaurice, Daniel Fraser-Maraun, and Ethan Powell. That was one of several medals for Ernst, who also won gold in the omnium and silver in the individual pursuit. Fraser-Maraun took bronze in the latter.

There was a silver medal in the women’s team pursuit for Ngaire Barraclough, Kiara Lylyk, Lily Plante and Anika Brants. Barraclough missed the omnium podium by one spot, but she and Plante took bronze in the madison. Plante also won silver in the scratch race and bronze in the points race.

Rugby: Canadian women finish 6th at Hong Kong 7s

The Canadian women finished sixth at the Hong Kong Sevens, one of the most celebrated stops on the SVNS Series. They sit fifth in the season standings.

After winning their pool with three straight victories, the Canadians fell 26-5 to to New Zealand in the quarterfinals. A comeback bid against Fiji in the fifth-place playoff came up short as they ended up dropping the match 19-15. Trailing 19-5 in the second half, Piper Logan and Fancy Bermudez scored late tries but it wasn’t quite enough.

The results in Hong Kong mean that seven of the eight teams have been confirmed for the SVNS Grand Final in Madrid from May 31 to June 2. Canada, the U.S., Ireland and Fiji join Australia, New Zealand and France in confirming their places in Madrid. The final spot will be decided in Singapore with eighth-place Britain currently holding a two-point lead over Brazil. The Canadian women are qualified for Paris 2024.