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Weekend recap: Canada’s winter athletes shine | CBC Sports



Weekend recap: Canada’s winter athletes shine | CBC Sports

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A pair of short track world titles, a perfect curling start and a ski cross podium sweep highlighted some stellar performances by Canadians this weekend. Here’s a recap:

Two short track speed skaters won their first world title.

Kim Boutin is one of the most decorated skaters in Canadian history. Entering last week’s world championships in the Netherlands, the 29-year-old from Sherbrooke, Que., had won 13 medals at the worlds, four at the Olympics and dozens more on the World Cup circuit.

But she’d never captured a major-championship title, and it didn’t seem like this would be her year either. Boutin skipped the first four World Cup stops of the season to focus on her studies and managed just one individual medal (a bronze) over the final two meets.

On Saturday, Boutin surprised even herself by leading the women’s 500m final wire to wire to take gold at the worlds. “I didn’t expect to win… after taking time off this season,” she said. “For me, this was a huge bonus.’

On Sunday, William Dandjinou won his first world title in dramatic fashion. The rising star from Montreal took over the lead in the men’s 1,000m when the two Korean front-runners collided with three laps to go. Dandjinou then held off Italy’s Pietro Sighel in a photo finish.

The gold is Dandjinou’s first medal of any kind at the world championships. It capped a breakthrough season that saw the 22-year-old top the World Cup 1,500m standings and place third in the overall chase despite missing the final meet due to an injury.

Canada also picked up a pair of bronze medals over the weekend: one from men’s 500m World Cup leader Jordan Pierre-Gilles and the other by Boutin’s women’s relay team.

The worlds brought an end to a successful short track season for Canada’s skaters. In addition to the four medals at the world championships, they won 35 (including 15 gold) across six World Cup stops.

Rachel Homan’s team got off to a perfect start at the women’s curling world championship.

Coming off their 11-0 run at last month’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Homan’s rink opened the worlds in Sydney, N.S., with three straight wins, beating Sweden, Denmark and the United States over the weekend.

Today, Canada improved to 4-0 by defeating Norway 9-4 in eight ends. Homan and company are tied for first place in the 13-team field with Italy’s Stefania Constantini and Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni, who is going for her fifth consecutive world title. Canada plays both of them on Tuesday. The top six teams qualify for the playoffs, and the top two get a bye to the semifinals.

Homan, a four-time Scotties champion, is trying to lead Canada to its first women’s, men’s or mixed curling world title since 2018.

Marielle Thompson led a ski cross sweep in Switzerland.

The former Olympic and world champion won for the fifth time in her last seven World Cup starts, putting her in prime position to capture her fourth season-long title (and first since 2017) at this weekend’s two-race finale in Sweden. 

Brittany Phelan and India Sherret finished right behind Thompson in Saturday’s final, giving Canada its first sweep of a women’s ski cross World Cup podium in 13 years. Phelan ranks third in the standings.

Canada’s Reece Howden can still capture his third men’s World Cup crown in four years. But he trails Switzerland’s Alex Fiva by a pretty wide margin after placing 18th on Saturday, and two other skiers are close behind the second-place Howden.

Eliot Grondin clinched his first snowboard cross World Cup title.

The 22-year-old star had his worst showing of the season on Saturday in Austria, finishing eighth after reaching the podium in all eight previous events, including five victories. But that was good enough for Grondin to secure his first World Cup title before sitting out Sunday’s race due to an injury he picked up in the clincher.

Assuming he’s good to go, Grondin will take a victory lap at this weekend’s season finale in his native Quebec. His World Cup Crystal Globe joins a trophy case that includes a world junior title and two medals from the 2022 Olympics.

Other key results:

* Moguls star Mikaël Kingsbury closed another successful season by winning Saturday’s dual moguls event in Italy. It was his 10th World Cup victory of the season and the record-extending 90th of his career. Kingsbury, 31, clinched the dual and overall championships last weekend but lost his single moguls title to Japan’s Ikuma Horishima.

* Canadian Para nordic skiers finished with 10 medals, including three gold, at the World Cup finals in Prince George, B.C. After Mark Arendz completed a perfect season with a victory in the men’s 10-kilometre standing race on Wednesday, Derek Zaplotinsky won the men’s sitting 5km individual start classic on Thursday and Collin Cameron took gold in Saturday’s men’s sitting cross-country ski sprint. Cameron added a silver in the 20K mass start classic on Sunday as Canadians captured four medals on the final day of competition.

* Canada’s Para hockey team got swept by the Paralympic and world champion United States in a three-game series in North Dakota. The Americans followed their 7-0 win on Wednesday with 4-1 and 5-2 victories on Friday and Saturday. The teams will meet for another series in April in Calgary, which is also hosting the world championship in May.

* Freestyle skier Olivia Asselin took bronze in the penultimate slopestyle World Cup competition of the season in France. The season ends this weekend in Switzerland.

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