Photos: Mike Ridewood, Alex Paradis, Greg Kolz

A winter to remember

Canadians know winter. And this winter, Canadian athletes proved yet again that they know how to win.

Wednesday, March 20th marks the official first day of spring and, although there are a few world cups and world championships remaining, Canada can look back on the calendar of 2012-13 with big excitement about what has been accomplished.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries (Calgary, AB) after claiming a second consecutive world title. “This is the perfect end to a great season.”

With competition still not officially over, Canada is holding steady in third place overall in World Cup medal standings with 140 medals including 42 gold as of today.

Photo: Mike Ridewood/Canadian Freestyle Ski Association

2013 Freestyle Skiing Women's slopestyle World Champion. Photo: Mike Ridewood/Canadian Freestyle Ski Association

Joining Humphries (and brakeman Chelsea Valois of Zenon Park, SK) with world champion status thus far in the season are: Patrick Chan (Toronto, ON) in Figure Skating; Spencer O’Brien (Vancouver, BC) in Snowboard slopestyle; Mikael Kingsbury (Deux-Montagnes, QC) in Freestyle Skiing moguls; Alexandre Bilodeau (Rosemere, QC) in Freestyle Skiing dual moguls; Chloé Dufour-Lapointe (Montreal) in Freestyle Skiing dual moguls; Kaya Turski (Montreal, BC) in Freestyle Skiing slopestyle; Maëlle Ricker (Squamish, BC) in Snowboardcross and the short track Speed Skating team of Charle Cournoyer (Boucherville, QC), Michael Gilday (Yellowknife, NWT), Charles Hamelin (Sainte-Julie, QC) and Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC).

With so many strong competitors, it’s hard not to notice the large number of Canadian women and their impact on the world stage. And as the final winter season closes before Sochi 2014, their results not only provide inspiration, but they prove a longstanding tradition of excellence.

“Being a part of a group of active women who are open to constantly pushing the limit inspires me,” said Ricker.  “I hope that other women look at female athletes and get the same inspiration.”

There are another few weeks left in competition, and many Canadian athletes will have a lot more to fight for before turning to spring with a training-heavy schedule. It’s a new season that Canadian Olympic Team Assistant Chef de Mission Jean-Luc Brassard says he is eager to embrace.

“With less than a year to go before the Sochi 2014 Games, I’m incredibly proud to know we have the best athletes in the world preparing to do what they do best on the Olympic stage.”