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The Winter Olympic sports season continues with major events in figure skating, speed skating and skiing, while aquatic athletes’ path to the Summer Olympics is through the World Aquatics Championships in Qatar . Here’s what to watch this weekend and the scoop on three World Cup victories for Canadian athletes in the last 24 hours.
World Aquatics Championships
The competition began today in Doha, where Canada’s Mia Vallée failed to qualify for the medal round in the women’s 1m springboard. She was a bronze medalist at the 2022 world championships in this non-Olympic event.
The top Canadian diver competing this weekend is Caeli McKay in the women’s 10m platform. She clinched an Olympic berth for Canada with her bronze medal at last year’s World Championships. Kate Miller can earn another Olympic berth for Canada by finishing in the top 12. The preliminary round will take place on Sunday and the event will conclude with the final on Monday morning.
Preliminary competition opened today in artistic swimming, where Canadians Jacqueline Simoneau and Audrey Lamothe attempt to qualify for the Olympics in pairs while Canada attempts to qualify for an Olympic berth in the team event .
The Canadian women’s water polo team’s last chance to qualify for the Olympics begins Sunday with its group stage opener against South Africa. Half of the 16 teams participating in the tournament have already qualified for the Olympics. The first two among the rest will get the last remaining places in Paris.
The women’s and men’s 10km open water swimming events will take place early Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Canadians Emma Finlin and Laila Oravsky (women) as well as Eric Hedlin and Hau-Li Fan (men) can qualify for the Olympics by finishing in the top 13.
A difficult week for Canadians may end on a positive note at the Four Continents Championships in China, where non-European skaters are gathered to respond to last month’s European Championships.
On Monday, Canada learned it would not be promoted to the bronze medal in the team event at the 2022 Olympics, following Kamila Valieva’s doping scandal. Even though the Russian teenager was retroactively disqualified and suspended for four years by the sport’s highest appeals court, figure skating’s world governing body decided to simply deduct Valieva’s points from her team’s score rather than disqualify the Russians altogether. As a result, they lost the gold medal, but only dropped to the bronze position, one point ahead of fourth-place Canada. who is committed to appealing.
Four of the Canadians who could win an Olympic medal if the Russians were disqualified are competing on the Four Continents. National ice dance champions Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier took the lead in their event in leading today’s opening round. Roman Sadovsky ranks 11th heading into the final stage of the men’s event on Saturday morning. Madeline Schizas finished sixth among the women.
Canadians Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps lead the pairs event heading into tonight’s decisive free skate. Gilles and Poirier can win the ice dancing title on Saturday evening.
Canadians Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen are in second place. The duo withdrew from the national championships in Calgary last month after it was reported that Soerensen was under investigation by safe sport authorities after a woman accused him of assaulting her sexually in 2012. Soerensen called the allegations “false” and Fournier Beaudry expressed support for her teammate.
The final competition of the long track World Cup season began this afternoon in Quebec, where several Canadians find themselves at or near the top of the rankings in the various distances.
Valérie Maltais and Ivanie Blondin ranked first and second respectively at the start in the women’s group before Sunday’s final. Maltais is third in the women’s long distance rankings, which combines the 3,000 and 5,000 m races. Laurent Dubreuil is second in the men’s 500m and Ted-Jan Bloemen third in the men’s long distances (5,000m and 10,000m). The Olympic champion women’s team pursuit trio of Maltais, Blondin and Isabelle Weidemann finished second after last week’s season finale.
After this weekend will come the world championships in Calgary which will begin on February 15.
What else to know:
* Mikaël Kingsbury won the men’s moguls event in Deer Valley, Utah last night for his 87th World Cup gold medal. This allowed the Canadian to overtake Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark for the most men’s World Cup victories in a ski discipline. Kingsbury will look for his ninth victory of the season Saturday night in the dual moguls event.
* Indian Sherret from Canada won his first ski cross World Cup gold medal today in Italy. Partly due to injuries, the 27-year-old had not been on the podium since late 2019. Canadian Hannah Schmidt placed seventh to maintain her lead in the women’s rankings. Reece Howden overtook compatriot Jared Schmidt (Hannah’s brother) for first place in the men’s pursuit race after finishing fifth and 20th respectively. Another series of men’s and women’s races is scheduled for Saturday at the same venue.
*Canadian Mirela Rahneva won a surprising skeleton World Cup gold medal today in Latvia. It was her first victory in more than two years and her first appearance on the podium since her bronze medal at the season opener in China in November. She ranks eighth in the Women’s World Cup standings. In Latvia, the competition continues with bobsleigh races on Saturday and Sunday.
How to watch:
With the exception of dual moguls and ski cross, the upcoming events mentioned above will be streamed live on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.
Other live events on these platforms this weekend include a Professional Women’s Hockey League game between Minnesota and Toronto on Saturday, and Canada’s game Davis Cup Tennis Qualifications against South Korea in Montreal. It starts today at 4 p.m. ET and continues Saturday at 2 p.m. ET. Watch it here.
On Saturday, the CBC Television Network will broadcast live the Minnesota-Toronto PWHL game at noon ET, followed by the NHL All-Star Game, then coverage of the World Aquatics Championships and the Speed Skating World Cup in Quebec. See the full streaming and broadcast schedule here.