It may be the first major international event of the season for Canadian divers, but the pressure’s already on.
The Diving World Cup in Montreal, which begins Friday, also represents the final international competition before the world championships in July — making it one of the last opportunities for 10 Canadian divers to make their case to head to Japan.
They’ll reconvene in Toronto later in May for the national championships.
Live coverage of the World Cup will be available on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem through Sunday’s individual finals.
The Canadian squad is highlighted by a pair of young stars in Mia Vallée, who broke through with two medals at 2022 worlds, and Caeli McKay, who finished in an agonizing fourth place at the Tokyo Olympics.
Vallée, the 22-year-old from Beaconsfield, Que., became the first Canadian woman to win multiple medals at worlds when the springboard specialist took bronze in the 1-metre and silver in the 3m.
WATCH | Vallée captures silver at worlds:
While the 1m, which isn’t an Olympic event, won’t be contested in Montreal, Vallée will dive in the individual and synchronized 3m events. In the latter, she’ll team with Pamela Ware, the two-time Olympian from Greenfield Park, Que., and long-time partner of the now-retired Jennifer Abel.
McKay, 23, fell less than a point short of the 10m synchronized Olympic podium mere weeks after tearing multiple ligaments around her ankle. The quick return to sport also caused some longer lingering effects throughout 2022 for the Calgary native, who finally underwent surgery in October.
Now, McKay will head to Montreal with a new synchro partner in 17-year-old Kate Miller. She’ll also compete in the individual 10m event.
“I’m really looking forward to finally getting back out there with a brand new ankle,” McKay told Diving Canada in April.
WATCH | McKay looking forward to diving in Montreal on new ankle with new partner:
The World Cup will be Miller’s biggest international event to date.
“My main focus is just doing the best I can, having the experience I need for the future,” Miller, of Ottawa, said.
Meanwhile, returning as a team are Nathan Zsombor-Murray and Rylan Wiens, the reigning world bronze medallists in the men’s synchronized 10m platform event.
Calgary’s Wiens, the elder of the pair at 21, is hoping to build off the momentum of his 2022 season, when he broke the Canadian 10m platform record that had been held for 15 years by Alexandre Despatie.
Also competing in individual events at the Montreal Olympic Pool for Canada are Margo Erlam (Calgary), Renée Batalla (Victoria), Celina Toth (St. Thomas, Ont.) and Bryden Hattie (Victoria).
The World Cup is the second of three on the season, with the Final coming in August in Berlin, Germany. No Canadians competed at the previous event in April in China, making Montreal their lone chance to qualify for Germany, where increased prize money will be available.
The three-stop tour is part of a rejigged diving schedule for 2023 meant to better complement major events like the world championships and Olympics while getting more athletes and countries into top competition.
The competition format is also slightly changed, with team events going straight to finals while individual events are now two rounds instead of three.