Sports: 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang
Medal hauls in speed skating, a double by Mark McMorris, and a curling sweep (almost): A sport-by-sport look at who’ll win what at the Winter Games in South Korea
By Bev Wake
It’s the biggest Canadian team in Winter Olympic history — and arguably the deepest — with 225 athletes set to compete in PyeongChang this month.
There are medal prospects in almost every sport, and multiple prospects in several events, which has led most experts to predict Canada will surpass its totals from the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Canada won 26 medals that year: an Olympic-record 14 gold, seven silver and five bronze.
While it’s unlikely Canada will come anywhere near 14 gold in South Korea, this team has enough talent to surpass the 30-medal mark for the first time. A look at the most likely medallists, by sport, follows below. Predictions are based on past performances, plus some gut instinct, with recent results and medals at major championships weighted more heavily.
Predicted medal count: 32 (7 gold, 11 silver, 14 bronze)
Alpine skiing: 0
Canadians have won 11 medals in alpine skiing since it was first contested at the 1936 Olympics — 103 fewer than Austria — most recently a bronze by Jan Hudec in super-G four years ago. It was Canada’s first medal in the sport in 20 years. It’s unlikely more will be added this year.
Darkhorse: Manuel Osborne Paradis won a bronze medal in Super-G at the 2017 world championships and is ranked No. 18 in downhill on the World Cup circuit.
All three of Canada’s Olympic medals in biathlon were won by the same woman — Myriam Bedard — in 1992 and 1994. A breakthrough in South Korea would be a surprise.
Darkhorse: Nathan Smith is a two-time world championship medallist, having won silver in the 10-km sprint in 2015 and bronze in the 4×7.5-km relay in 2016 with Brendan Green and brothers Scott and Christian Gow. Both Smith and the relay team have an outside shot at a medal.
Canada has won seven Olympic medals in bobsleigh — four gold, two silver and one bronze — with five of those medals coming at the last three Olympics. Those numbers should grow.
Gold: Kaillie Humphries
The two-time reigning Olympic champion won her fourth overall World Cup crown this season.
Silver: Justin Kripps (2-man)
The silver medallist at the 2017 world championships, he won the overall title on the World Cup this season, where his worst finish was fourth.
Darkhorse: Chris Spring (2-man) is ranked third in the World Cup standings with one win; Justin Kripps (4-man) had two second-place finishes on the World Cup circuit and finished fourth overall.
Canadians have won three Olympic medals in the sport, but no man has stood on the podium. That should change in PyeongChang.
Silver: Alex Harvey, 15-km freestyle
Ranked fourth overall on the World Cup circuit — and No. 3 in distance events — he finished third in the 2017-18 Tour de Ski.
Darkhorse: Harvey, 50-km mass start classical, 30-km skiathlon. He won silver in the 50-km freestyle mass start at the 2017 world championships and has shown he’s capable of reaching the podium in multiple distances.
No country comes close to approaching Canada’s success in Olympic curling, with 10 medals in 10 tries: five gold, three silver and two bronze. That shouldn’t change in Korea, although mixed doubles is a question mark. The sport is making its Olympic debut this year and Canada has never won a world title in the event. Switzerland, meanwhile, is six for 10.
Gold: Rachel Homan
Perfect in 2017, she won the Scotties, worlds and Olympic trials.
Gold: Kevin Koe
The two-time world champion (2016, 2010) finished second at the 2017 Brier before winning Olympic trials.
Bronze: John Morris/Kaitlyn Lawes
They have experience on their side. Morris won Olympic gold with Kevin Martin in 2010, and Lawes won gold with Jennifer Jones in Sochi.
Figure skating: 3
Canada has won 25 Olympic medals in figure skating, trailing only the U.S. (49) and Russia (26), including three in Sochi: silver in men’s singles (Patrick Chan), ice dance (Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir) and the team event. They should match that number this year and, in one case, upgrade the colour.
Gold: Virtue/Moir (ice dance)
The 2017 world champions revamped their free skate for the Canadian championships after finishing second at the Grand Prix Final to Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France. The result? Personal bests in short dance (85.12), free dance (a perfect score of 124.70) and total score (209.82).
Bronze: Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (pairs)
The 2015 and 2016 world champions reached the podium at both their Grand Prix assignments this season, winning gold at Skate Canada and bronze at Skate America, and finished third at the Grand Prix final.
Bronze: Katelyn Osmond (women’s singles)
She struggled at nationals, finishing second to Gabrielle Daleman, but when she’s on she’s fantastic. She won silver at the 2017 world championships and was third at the Grand Prix Final.
Darkhorse: Canada is the reigning Olympic silver medallist in the team event and has the talent to reach the podium, but finished fourth at the last two World Team Trophy events; Daleman was third at the 2017 world championships and beat Osmond at nationals.
Canada is a world power in the sport, winning 18 Olympics medals, second only to the United States (21). Four years ago in Sochi they led all countries with nine medals, including four gold, but that will be tough to match this year.
Gold: Mikael Kingsbury, moguls
The world No. 1 (and reigning Olympic silver medallist) has won both the World Cup moguls and freestyle overall titles for six straight seasons. Since Jan. 28, 2017, he’s lost just one World Cup event, finishing second to Ikuma Horishima of Japan on Jan. 20. Invincible? Not quite. He settled for silver at the 2015 world championships and bronze last year.
Silver: Justine Dufour-Lapointe, moguls
The reigning Olympic champion sits sixth in the World Cup standings, but has podium finishes at key events, including a third at the 2017 world championship and second at the 2017 test event in PyeongChang.
Bronze: Andi Naude, moguls
She hasn’t finished outside the top-seven at a World Cup since Feb. 2, 2017 and has a silver, two thirds and two fourths this season to sit second overall. She was third at the 2017 test event in PyeongChang.
Bronze: Cassie Sharpe, halfpipe
No. 2 in the AFP world rankings, she won bronze in ski superpipe at the 2018 Winter X Games last month after winning the Dew Tour Breckenridge event in December.
Darkhorse: Mike Riddle, halfpipe, is the reigning world and Olympic silver medallist and finished fourth at the 2018 X Games; Olivier Rochon, aerials, was sixth at the 2017 world championships and finished third in a Jan. 19 World Cup in Lake Placid; Brady Leman, ski cross, won gold at the 2016 X Games and had seven World Cup podiums in 2016-17; Kelsey Serwa, ski cross, won silver at the Sochi Olympics and gold at the 2016 Winter X Games and is sixth in the World Cup standings; Marielle Thompson, ski cross, is the reigning Olympic champion and the 2017 overall ski cross champion, but she hasn’t competed since rupturing her ACL and MCL in October; Evan McEachran, slopestyle, has two World Cup podiums this season and two thirds on the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix circuit for a No. 3 AFP ranking.
Canada has 20 Olympic medals in hockey — 13 of them gold — to top the overall medals table. Odds are good that number will increase in Korea.
Canada’s women’s team has won four-straight gold medals and no team, male or female, has ever won five in a row. The Americans have to be favoured this time, given they’ve won the last four world titles.
This one is tough to call, given it’s the first Olympics since 1994 without players from the National Hockey League. This could give European teams — particularly the Olympic athletes from Russia — an advantage. Still, it’s hockey. It’s Canada.
Canada has never won an Olympic medal in luge, but came really close in Sochi with three fourth-place finishes: Alex Gough in the women’s event, Tristan Walker and Justin Snith in doubles, and Gough, Walker, Snith and Sam Edney in the team relay. It would be nice to see one of them make the podium in PyeongChang — and they could — but don’t bet on it.
Darkhorse: Gough is ranked fourth in the World Cup standings with three silver medals this season; Edney is only ranked 23rd on the circuit but he likes the track, finishing third at the test event last year; the relay team is ranked No. 3 on the World Cup circuit, but didn’t reach the podium at the last three World Cups and were sixth at the 2017 world championships.
Nordic combined: 0
Canada has never won a medal in Nordic combined, which has been an Olympic sport since 1924, and no Canadians qualified for the last two Games.
Short track: 7
Only South Korea (40 medals) and China (30) have enjoyed more success in short track than Canada (28). Team Canada struggled in Sochi, winning just three medals, but they’re poised for a rebound this time around. Word to the wise: short track is notoriously difficult to predict, with crashes common.
Gold: Men’s 5,000-metre relay team
It’s tough to bet against the Koreans in their home country, but the Canadians won two World Cup gold and a bronze this season, missing the podium just once, to secure the No. 1 ranking.
Silver: Marianne St-Gelais, 500 metres
No. 4 on the World Cup circuit at the distance this year, winning one gold, she’s also the reigning world silver medallist and is capable of reaching the podium at any distance.
Silver: Kim Boutin, 1,000 metres
She won gold and silver on the World Cup circuit this season to finish No. 2 overall at the distance. Like St-Gelais, she could reach the podium in any event.
Silver: Marianne St-Gelais, 1,500 metres
She won silver at the 2017 world championship after winning gold in 2016.
Silver: Samuel Girard, 500 metres
He won World Cup gold this year to finish third overall in the distance. He could reach the podium in other events, too: he won silver over 1,500 metres at the 2017 world championships and the overall bronze medal.
Bronze: Charles Hamelin, 1,500 metres
The reigning Olympic champion won 1,500-metre gold and bronze on the World Cup circuit this season. He’s not a heavy favourite for multiple medals, as he was in Sochi, but experience matters in this sport and he can’t be counted out at any distance.
Bronze: Women’s 3,000-metre relay team
They won two medals in four World Cups this season — silver and bronze — and have the talent to reach the podium, although it’s a competitive field. They won silver at the last two Olympics.
Darkhorse: Valerie Maltais, 1,500 metres, is ranked No. 4 in the world at the distance.
Canada has won four medals in skeleton since the sport returned to the Olympics in 2002, but they were shut out in Sochi. A deep women’s team should put them back on the board again.
Bronze: Elisabeth Vathje
Canada’s most consistent racer this season, she hasn’t finished outside the top 10 on the World Cup circuit, where she ranked third overall with three silver medals and a bronze.
Darkhorse: Jane Channel won World Cup silver in November and finished the season No. 5; Mirela Rahneva had a bronze and three fourths this season, after winning three medals — including a gold — in 2016-17.
Ski jumping: 0
Canada has never won a medal in Olympic ski jumping, the best finish remaining the seventh recorded by Horst Bulau at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary. No one is likely to improve on that in PyeongChang.
Canada has won seven medals in snowboarding, including two in Sochi four years ago. This team is stronger and should see improved results, particularly with the addition of Big Air to the Olympic programme.
Gold: Max Parrot, Big Air
A four-time Winter X Games champion, he won gold in 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2014, with silver in 2015, and is ranked No. 1 on the World Snowboard Points list.
Silver: Mark McMorris, slopestyle
Ranked No. 2 in the world, he is a four-time X Games champion (2016, 2015, 2013, 2012) in the event. He won bronze in 2017 and again last month, completing his recovery from a devastating backcountry crash near Whistler last March that left him with a fractured jaw, fractured left arm, ruptured spleen, pelvic fracture, rib fractures and a collapsed left lung.
Bronze: Mark McMorris, Big Air
Ranked No. 2 in the world, he is a two-time X Games champion in the event (2015, 2012) and finished fourth last month in Aspen.
Darkhorse: Laurie Blouin, slopestyle, won gold at the 2017 world championships and is ranked No. 9; Spencer O’Brien, slopestyle, won gold at the 2016 X Games and is ranked No. 3; Sebastien Toutant, slopestyle, is a two-time X Games champion who won silver in 2016 and is ranked No. 4; Tyler Nicholson, slopestyle, won silver at the 2017 X Games and was fifth last month; Max Parrot, slopestyle, won gold at the 2014 X-Games and is ranked No. 12 in the world.
Speed skating: 6
Canada has won 35 medals in speed skating, more than in any other sport. After a down year in Sochi, where Canada won just two medals — both by Denny Morrison — things are looking up this year.
Silver: Ted-Jan Bloeman, 5,000 metres
The world-record holder over 5,000 metres, he finished first overall on the World Cup circuit this season. He was fifth at the 2017 world championships.
Silver: Ted-Jan Bloeman, 10,000 metres
No. 1 on the World Cup circuit this season, he was fourth at the 2017 world championships.
Bronze: Men’s team pursuit
They’re one of just three teams to win World Cup gold this season.
Bronze: Ivanie Blondin, 3,000 metres
She won World Cup gold, silver and bronze over the distance this season, including gold in the final pre-Olympic World Cup. She finished .46 seconds off the podium at the 2017 world championships.
Bronze: Ivanie Blondin, 5,000 metres
The bronze medallist at the 2017 world championships, she won silver in the lone World Cup race this season.
Bronze: Alex Boisvert-Lacroix, 500 metres
No. 3 on the World Cup circuit, his two wins came in the final two events of 2017 and he finished third in the final pre-Olympic race. He won bronze at the 2016 world championships.
Darkhorse: Vincent De Haitre, 1,000 metres, won silver at the 2017 world championships; Marsha Hudey, 500 metres, is ranked No. 5 on the World Cup circuit with her best finish a second; Olivier Jean, mass start, won bronze at the 2017 world single distance championships; Ivanie Blondin, mass start, is the 2016 world champion and won a silver medal on the World Cup this season; women’s pursuit team has two World Cup silvers this season; Denny Morrison, 1,500 metres, is most likely to reach the podium in pursuit, but his best time this season is sixth fastest in the world.
THE EX-PRESS, February 6, 2018