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Canada officially named its Olympic team
With the opening ceremony exactly one week away and some of its athletes already in Beijing, Canada today presented its full list of 215 competitors for the Winter Olympics. It’s slightly smaller than Canada’s teams for the last two Winter Games, but still the third-largest ever. With 109 men and 106 women, the Canadian Olympic Committee says this is the most gender-balanced squad it has ever sent to a Winter Games.
Here are some more fun facts about the team:
*The oldest woman and the oldest man are both curlers. Jennifer Jones, 47, is going for her second gold medal in the women’s event, while John Morris, 43, tries to repeat as mixed doubles champ.
*The youngest athlete is 16-year-old halfpipe snowboarder Brooke D’Hondt. She was just shy of her first birthday when three of her current teammates — curlers Brad Gushue and Mark Nichols and short track speed skater Charles Hamelin — made their Olympic debuts in 2006. Gushue and Nichols are back for the first time since then, while Hamelin is set to compete in his fifth consecutive Winter Games.
*Hamelin can make history in Beijing. With five Olympic medals already under his belt, the 37-year-old needs one more to match long track speed skater Cindy Klassen for the Canadian Winter Olympic record. A sixth medal would also tie Hamelin with Andre De Grasse as Canada’s most decorated male Olympian. A seventh would put him alongside Penny Oleksiak for most decorated Canadian Olympian ever.
*Five sets of siblings are on the team. Chloé and Justine Dufour-Lapointe, who shared the women’s moguls podium in Sochi eight years ago, will compete against each other again. Christian and Scott Gow (biathlon) and Hannah and Jared Schmidt (ski cross) also participate in the same sport. Cassie Sharpe (ski halfpipe) and Darcy Sharpe (snowboard slopestyle and big air) are in different, though spiritually similar, sports. Same for 2014 ski cross gold medallist Marielle Thompson and her brother Broderick, who is an alpine skier.
On a less-fun note, the COC announced today that five members of the Canadian delegation were placed in COVID-19 protocols upon arrival in Beijing. “Delegation” includes athletes, coaches and support staff, and the COC declined to share the names. Read more about this here and more facts about the Canadian team here.
Reminder: The Canadian men’s soccer team has two young superstars
Jonathan David delivered that message in spectacular fashion last night with his brilliant second-half goal that all but sealed Canada’s 2-0 win in a in a crucial World Cup qualifier in Honduras. The victory kept Canada unbeaten and alone atop the standings in the final round of its regional qualifying tournament, with only five matches left. A top-three finish gets the Canadian men’s team into its first World Cup since 1986.
Heading into the game, there was a lot of anxiety about Canada potentially slipping down the table. The incomparable Alphonso Davies is out for this qualifying window with a heart issue, and Canada had a horrible track record in Honduras. Key midfielder Stephen Eustáquio was also missing last night after reportedly testing positive for COVID-19. But Canada showed once again that it now has the depth to weather these kinds of storms. Tajon Buchanan induced an early own-goal with some nifty moves, goalkeeper Milan Borjan made some big saves and David put the game away with his world-class effort (set up by a laser-like 40-yard pass by Liam Fraser) in the 73rd minute.
Though the 21-year-old Davies is the heart and soul of the team, David, who’s only 10 months older, is a bona fide young superstar in his own right. With 12 goals in nine matches this season for the French club Lille, he ranks second in scoring in Ligue 1, which is one of Europe’s “big five” leagues and features global superstars Kylian Mbappé and Neymar. In 25 career matches for the Canadian men’s national team, David has 19 goals — already just three off the all-time lead.
Canadian soccer fans were still giddily rewatching David’s gorgeous goal last night when more good news arrived: fourth-place Panama lost to Costa Rica, increasing Canada’s cushion for staying in the all-important top three to five points. A win is worth three and a draw is worth one, so that’s pretty sizable with only five matches left.
The next one is big — a showdown with the second-place United States on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET in Hamilton, Ont. The Americans stayed one point back of Canada last night by beating El Salvador 1-0 at home. Third-place Mexico, which is two points behind Canada, kept pace with a 2-1 road win in Jamaica.
Canada’s third and final match of this window is Wednesday night at El Salvador, which ranks seventh in the eight-team standings (ahead of only Honduras). The final window, in late March, sees Canada visit Panama and fifth-place Costa Rica and host sixth-place Jamaica. Barring some catastrophe, Canada’s chances of reaching the World Cup in November in Qatar are looking very good. Read about how the team was able to thrive without Davies and Eustáquio last night in this piece by soccer expert John Molinaro.
The Oilers gave Evander Kane a (second?) (third?) (fourth?) (fifth?) chance. It’s honestly impossible to quantify how many times Kane has (allegedly) crossed the line. But the tilting Oilers were willing to take the gamble after an NHL-commissioned investigation found “insufficient evidence” that Kane misrepresented his COVID-19 vaccine status or test results in connection with his cross-border travel during the holiday break. Shortly after that announcement yesterday, Edmonton signed Kane for the rest of the season. The 30-year-old winger became a free agent earlier this month when the San Jose Sharks terminated the remainder of his seven-year, $49-million US contract for violating COVID-19 protocol, costing Kane close to $23 million. The violation occurred after the NHL suspended Kane in October for 21 games for submitting a fake vaccine card, resulting in the Sharks putting him on waivers to send him to the minors. Edmonton hopes Kane can give a shot in the arm to a maddening team that won nine of its first 10 games this season, lost 13 of 15 from Dec. 3-Jan. 20, and has now won three in a row. Read more about the Kane signing here.
Novak Djokovic is on the verge of getting the boot again. The world No. 1’s refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19 before the Australian Open resulted in his getting kicked out of the country prior to the tournament. Now Djokovic is one match away from getting erased (temporarily, at least) from the record books. If Rafael Nadal wins the men’s final vs. No. 2-ranked Daniil Medvedev, the Spaniard will break his tie with Djokovic and Roger Federer for the all-time record for men’s singles Grand Slam titles. The women’s final could also be historic, as No. 1-ranked Ash Barty can become the first Australian woman to win her home Slam since 1978. Barty owns two major titles. Her opponent, American Danielle Collins, is a 28-year-old who has never played in a Slam final. The women’s final is Saturday at 3:30 a.m. ET, and the men’s is Sunday at the same time. Read more about today’s men’s semis and watch highlights here.
The Super Bowl matchup will be decided Sunday. Coming off last week’s heart-stopping win over Buffalo (or heart-breaking, if you’re a Bills fan), Kansas City can advance to its third consecutive Super Bowl when it hosts Cincinnati in the AFC championship game at 3 p.m. ET. In the NFC title game at 6:30 p.m. ET, the San Francisco 49ers look to pull off their third consecutive road upset when they take on the Los Angeles Rams. The Niners knocked off Dallas before sending Aaron Rodgers and the top-seeded Green Bay Packers to another early exit last week.
A half-hearted* Scotties starts tonight. Normally, the Canadian women’s championship is one of the jewels of the curling season. But, this year, everything about it feels a little off. Thanks to the Olympics, the Scotties was bumped out of its traditional late-February timeslot and lost some of its biggest stars. Six-time champion Jennifer Jones is playing in the women’s event in Beijing, while three-time winner Rachel Homan is competing in the mixed doubles, which will go head-to-head with the Scotties once it begins on Wednesday morning in Canadian time zones. The atmosphere in Thunder Bay, Ont., will also be lacking as no fans are allowed to attend until at least the playoff rounds due to COVID-19 restrictions. With Homan and Jones out, the clear favourites to battle for the title are Kerri Einarson’s Team Canada rink, who are trying to win it for the third consecutive time, and Tracy Fleury’s Manitoba-based Team Wild Card #1, who lost to Jones in the final of the Canadian Olympic trials. Read a more-detailed preview of the Scotties here.
*I stole this joke from Ken Pomeroy. Check out his curling website and Scotties preview here.
This weekend on CBC Sports
With the Beijing Games so close, it’s the quiet before the storm for winter Olympic sports. But you can still stream the following stuff live on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem:
Alpine skiing: Watch a World Cup women’s downhill in Germany on Saturday at 5:30 a.m. ET, and a super-G Sunday at the same time.
Snowboard cross: Watch World Cup men’s and women’s events in Italy on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET.
Rugby sevens: Watch a World Rugby Seven Series event in Spain on Saturday from 2:45 a.m. ET to 3 p.m. ET and Sunday from 3 a.m. ET to 3 p.m. ET.
Junior hockey: Watch a WHL game between the Swift Current Broncos and Calgary Hitmen on Sunday at 6 p.m. ET.
For CBC Sports’ full streaming and broadcast schedule, go here.
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You’re up to speed. Have a good weekend.