18 (and then some) great Team Canada stories of 2018
There was so much for Team Canada to celebrate in 2018.
From the country’s most successful Olympic Winter Games ever to big breakthroughs on the summer sports stage to some incredible individual performances, it seemed there was always something noteworthy happening.
If you can’t quite remember everything (because it was a really long year), we’re here to help with this refresher, revealing a few new stories each day until the calendar turns to 2019.
Figure skaters shine on Olympic ice and beyond
A team of seven world championship medallists set a goal for themselves of standing atop the Olympic podium and succeeded in their mission, winning Canada’s first gold medal of PyeongChang 2018.
Patrick Chan, the three-time world champion who only a month earlier had won his record 10th national title, finally had Olympic gold around his neck before calling an end to his career. Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford rode the high to a bronze medal in the pairs event, putting together one of their finest performances for their final competitive skate.
Kaetlyn Osmond brought pride to the entire province of Newfoundland when she also won a bronze medal in the women’s event and then a month later became the first Canadian woman in 45 years to be crowned world champion. Not to be forgotten is Gabrielle Daleman’s great skate that clinched the team gold medal and Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje stepping into the ice dance spotlight to win their third world championship medal.
Tessa and Scott take over the world
No Canadian athletes captured the country’s – and the world’s – attention more than Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Together they carried the maple leaf into the Olympic Opening Ceremony. Their Moulin Rouge free dance had everyone buzzing twice during the Games, first when they were the last skaters on the ice in the team event, and then again when they skated their absolute best to win ice dance gold. That was their fifth career Olympic medal, making them the most decorated figure skaters in Olympic history.
What followed was a whirlwind, including an appearance on Ellen, induction to Canada’s Walk of Fame, and the decision to spearhead a cross-country tour to thank their loyal Canadian fans. They ended up 1-2 in Twitter’s list of the most talked about Canadian athletes during PyeongChang 2018 while Tessa topped the list of the most Googled Canadians in 2018.
Bloemen blows away eight-decade drought
Born in the Netherlands, Ted-Jan Bloemen had a tough time breaking out of the highly competitive Dutch speed skating system. But moving to Calgary and competing for Canada changed everything. At PyeongChang 2018 he won 5000m silver in a photo finish before claiming 10,000m gold in Olympic record time. It was the first time a Canadian had won an Olympic medal in either of those events since Lake Placid 1932.
Mikaël Kingsbury: king of the moguls hill
You only really need four letters to describe Mikaël Kingsbury: G.O.A.T. Amid all the pressure, he fulfilled his childhood dream and won Olympic gold at PyeongChang 2018. That came just a few weeks after he’d become the winningest moguls skier in World Cup history, male or female.
He went on to win his seventh straight Crystal Globe as the overall World Cup champion, not just in moguls, but all of freestyle skiing. He opened the 2018-19 season with his 50th career victory. It all led to him being voted the Lou Marsh Trophy winner as Canada’s Athlete of the Year.
Canada reigns in freestyle skiing
Kingsbury isn’t alone in starring on snow, with his gold one of seven freestyle skiing medals Canada won in PyeongChang. Cassie Sharpe dominated the women’s halfpipe so much that her final turn down the course was purely a victory lap. Justine Dufour-Lapointe came close to repeating as Olympic champion but settled for silver in women’s moguls. Alex Beaulieu-Marchand became Canada’s first Olympic medallist in men’s ski slopestyle.
But it was the ski cross team that really shone. For the second straight Games, Canada went 1-2 in the women’s race, with Kelsey Serwa and best friend Brittany Phelan claiming gold and silver. Brady Leman erased the disappointment of his fourth-place finish at Sochi 2014 with a gold medal of his own. The Canadian ski cross team as a whole ended the season by capturing the FIS Nations Cup.
All sorts of success for short track newbies and veterans
At PyeongChang 2018, the short track story was all about the new kids on the block. Kim Boutin became Canada’s only triple medallist of the Games, earning her the honour of being the Closing Ceremony flag bearer. Samuel Girard skated away with Canada’s only short track gold medal, winning the 1000m to go with his bronze as a member of the 5000m relay.
But a month later, when the world championships took place in Montreal, it was time for the renaissance of Charles Hamelin. Having just won his fifth career Olympic medal with the relay, he claimed gold in the 1000m and 1500m at the worlds to help him win the overall title for the first time in his career.
Luge team rides roller coaster of emotions
Just a few days before the start of PyeongChang 2018, Alex Gough, Sam Edney, Tristan Walker and Justin Snith learned they would not be getting a bronze medal from Sochi 2014. But rather than let disappointment and anger hang over them, they focused on making Canadian Olympic history. In medal contention heading into the final run of the women’s singles event, Gough thought she had missed the podium when she crossed the line.
But when one of the last two racers fell behind her, the entire Canadian team erupted in celebration for the bronze that would be Canada’s first ever Olympic luge medal. Two days later, the core four of the Canadian luge program completely erased the Sochi disappointment by winning silver in the team relay.
Christine Girard receives rightful Olympic gold and bronze medals
It was a celebration a long time coming, but well worth waiting for. In early December, Christine Girard finally had her moment atop an Olympic podium as she received the gold medal that should have been awarded to her at London 2012 and the bronze medal she had missed out on at Beijing 2008 while competing against athletes who had doped. Now retired and a mother of three, she used the opportunity to laud Canada for its support of clean sport and hoped to use her platform for the benefit of all athletes.
Team Canada stomps and shreds its way to snowboard domination
There was an argument to be made that the Canadian men’s slopestyle/big air snowboard team was the deepest in the world. That proved true at PyeongChang 2018 where Max Parrot and Mark McMorris won slopestyle silver and bronze to give Canada its first medals of the Games.
Towards the end of the Games, Sébastien Toutant grabbed the first ever Olympic gold medal awarded in big air, which also happened to be Canada’s 500th Olympic medal of all time. Laurie Blouin put Canada on the board in the women’s events, winning slopestyle silver amidst windy conditions that forced her to change her game plan mid-competition and after taking a hard crash in training that left her with a black eye.
Taylor Ruck rises while Kylie Masse maintains momentum
Canadian athletes won 82 medals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia to rank third behind the host nation and England. Leading the haul was 17-year-old swimmer Taylor Ruck who claimed eight medals (1 gold, 5 silver, 2 bronze), more than any other competitor at the Games. She also tied the all-time record for most medals won by an athlete at a single Commonwealth Games.
Later in the year, Ruck stunned many when she defeated American superstar and reigning Olympic champion Katie Ledecky in the 200m freestyle at the Pan Pacific Championships. That was just one of the five medals Ruck won in Tokyo, a Canadian record at the Pan Pacs.
But it was Kylie Masse who was once again Swimming Canada’s Swimmer of the Year, in recognition of her four medals (2 gold, 2 silver) at the Commonwealth Games and her 100m backstroke victory at the Pac Pacs, where she was named female swimmer of the championships.
Canadian women rule on the water
It was a banner year for the Canadian women who race in a straight line on water with gold medals won at both the canoe/kayak sprint and rowing world championships. Laurence Vincent Lapointe, the world’s most dominant female canoer over the last decade, is primed for her events to make their Olympic debuts at Tokyo 2020. She won her sixth world title in the C-1 200m and fifth world title in the C-2 500m, teaming with Katie Vincent in the latter. The Canadians also broke world records in both events this season.
Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssens stood atop the women’s pair podium at the world rowing championships after winning two World Cup medals, including one gold. The women’s eight continues to be a key boat for Canada, winning silver at the worlds for the second straight year.
Brooke Henderson makes history at home
Still just 20 years old, Brooke Henderson was a worthy runner-up in the Lou Marsh Trophy vote for Canada’s athlete of the year. In August she won the CP Women’s Open, the first Canadian woman to win Canada’s national open golf tournament in 45 years. It came at the end of a summer that had been personally difficult, as she suffered the loss of both her grandfathers. The historic victory was her second of the year and seventh of her career, meaning she is now just one win away from tying Sandra Post’s record for most LPGA titles by a Canadian.
Jumping for joy and medals in gymnastics
Never before did Canada enjoy the success it had at the world championships in artistic gymnastics. It began with a best-ever fourth-place finish in the women’s team event. It ended with two silver medals coming home in the pockets of Shallon Olsen and Ana Padurariu.
Part of an all-North American podium, Olsen was beaten only by the world’s most dominant gymnast, Simone Biles, on the vault. In her world championship debut, Padurariu actually beat Biles on beam.
Just a week later, Rosie MacLennan topped the podium in the individual event at the trampoline world championships, giving her two world titles to go with her two Olympic titles.
Most world championship medals ever on the wrestling mat
With four medals won, all by women, Canada had its best ever world wrestling championships in 2018. Headlining the charge was newly crowned 72kg world champion Justina Di Stasio. Danielle Lappage added a silver in the 65kg event while Erica Wiebe (76kg) and Diana Weicker (53kg) came home with bronze medals. Canada’s previous best medal total at the wrestling worlds was three and that was matched on just one night in Budapest.
Next Gen gets it done in Buenos Aires
Team Canada came home from the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games with 11 medals. Among the highlight performances: Emma Misak won a silver in breakdancing; Emma Spence won bronze in vault for Canada’s first ever YOG medal in artistic gymnastics, which was followed by a silver from Felix Dolci on rings; a bronze for the women’s rugby team; three medals in the swimming pool from Madison Broad, Finlay Knox and Alexander Milanovich.
Incredible individuals of Team Canada
Every year, there are always a few individual performances that just stand on their own. Alex Harvey became the first non-European man to earn an overall podium placement in the Tour de Ski. Christine Sinclair notched her 177th international goal, leaving her just seven away from the all-time record, and was named Canadian Women’s Player of the Year for the 14th time by Canada Soccer. Ghislaine Landry became the first woman to score 1000 career points in the World Rugby Sevens Series.
Christa Deguchi won the first five international events at which she represented Canada before becoming the first Canadian woman to win a world championship medal in judo. Michael Woods won bronze for Canada’s first world championship medal in cycling’s road race since 1984. Damian Warner captured his fourth decathlon title at the prestigious Hypo-Meeting, setting a Canadian record in the process.
Team Canada’s dynamic duos
There were so many tandems that stood tall this year. If Canadians weren’t quite sure what to make of mixed doubles curling, they were left with nothing but love for the new Olympic event when Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris won the first Olympic gold medal.
Justin Kripps and Alex Kopacz provided one of those “did that really just happen?” moments when they tied for the gold medal in two-man bobsleigh and celebrated alongside their German competitors. Kaillie Humphries won her third Olympic bobsleigh medal, this time being pushed by Phylicia George who had only stepped into a sled for the first time a few months earlier as she transferred her skills from the running track to the ice track.
On the sand, Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson are ending the year as the world’s top-ranked beach volleyball team on the strength of six FIVB World Tour podiums, while Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Parades hold down the three spot with a trio of World Tour podiums of their own and a Commonwealth Games gold medal.
The many top teams of Team Canada
They may wear different jerseys and compete in different sports, but they are all Team Canada and do us proud. There was the women’s hockey silver and men’s hockey bronze at PyeongChang 2018. The gold medal for Team Jones and the silver for Team Gushue at the world curling championships.
The bronze at the women’s softball world championships. And there’s a big 2019 in store after Canada qualified for the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the FIBA Basketball World Cup.