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Brad Gushue pumps his arms in celebrationTHE CANADIAN PRESS/ Geoff Robins
THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Geoff Robins

5 Team Canada things to watch this weekend: March 31-April 2

It’s another important weekend for Team Canada athletes. Some will be competing against the best the world has to offer in their sport. Others will be aiming to earn their pass to participate in major international meets that will take place in the coming months.

Here are five competitions to keep an eye on so you don’t miss out on some potentially amazing performances by Team Canada athletes.

Curling

After the World Women’s Curling Championship concluded this past Sunday in Sweden, the attention of curling fans turns quickly to Ottawa where the World Men’s Curling Championship will take place April 1-9.

For the second straight year, Canada will be represented by Team Gushue. The formation has changed since they won silver last year. E.J. Harnden is now at second playing alongside skip Brad Gushue, third Mark Nichols, and lead Geoff Walker. They won the national title in mid-March as Gushue became the first skip to win five Briers. Nichols and Walker have been with him for all five of those wins. For the worlds, they’ve brought aboard Harnden’s brother Ryan to serve as their fifth/alternate. Talk about a great place for a family reunion!

Canada hasn’t won gold at the worlds since Gushue led his team to victory in 2017. They’ll open the tournament against Switzerland on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET before playing Italy at 7 p.m. They’ll play in those same time slots on Sunday against New Zealand and Norway. All of Team Canada’s games will be broadcast on TSN.

Swimming

The Bell Canadian Swimming Trials kicked off in Toronto on Tuesday and will continue through Sunday. The competition will be used to select Canadian teams for the 2023 World Aquatics Championships as well as the 2023 Pan American Games.

The first evening of finals was the scene of a historic moment. Summer McIntosh thrilled the crowd at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre when she set her first senior world record, clocking 3:56.08 to lower the mark in the women’s 400m freestyle by 0.32. The record she took down was held by the reigning Olympic champion, Ariarne Titmus of Australia.

On Wednesday evening, world bronze medallist Joshua Liendo lowered his Canadian record in the men’s 100m butterfly to 50.36 seconds, making him the fastest in the world this year in the event. Also putting up a world’s fastest time this year was Olympic champion Maggie Mac Neil in the women’s 100m butterfly. Several other Olympians have already secured their spots for the world championships.

Who else will qualify? The world championship team will be announced at the conclusion of the Trials while the Pan Am Games team will be revealed next week. You can catch the qualifying sessions streaming on CBC Sports starting at 9 a.m. ET each day, while the finals sessions get underway at 6 p.m.

Judo

Ahead of the IJF World Championships in May, 10 Canadian judokas are competing in the Grand Slam that begins on Friday in Antalya, Turkey.

On the women’s side, keep an eye on Christa Deguchi (57kg) and Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard (63kg). Over the last few months, Deguchi won gold at the Baku Grand Slam and the Jerusalem Masters. She is second in the world rankings to only her fellow Canadian, Jessica Klimkait, who is not competing this week. Beauchemin-Pinard is the reigning world silver medallist and won Grand Slam silver in Tel Aviv in February. She is also ranked second in the world in her weight class.

On the men’s side, Shady El-Nahas will try to follow up last week’s 100kg bronze in Tbilisi with another Grand Slam podium. But there’s another Canadian contender in that weight class. Kyle Reyes is the reigning world silver medallist who won Grand Slam bronze in Tel Aviv in February. We’ll also be watching Arthur Margelidon (73kg) and François Gauthier-Drapeau (81kg). The latter stood on back-to-back Grand Slam podiums in Paris and Tel Aviv.

You can watch all the action live on IJF.org.

Rugby

The World Rugby Sevens Series will make a stop in Hong Kong this weekend. The Canadian men’s team is in Pool A with Argentina, Fiji, and Samoa. The Canadian women’s team will also be in Pool A with New Zealand, Great Britain, and Hong Kong. The group stage will start in the early morning hours on Friday here in Canada.

In the men’s tournament, the top two teams in each of the four pools will advance to the quarterfinals. The top two teams in each of the three women’s pools, along with the two best third place teams, will advance to those quarterfinals.

The Hong Kong Sevens will be live streamed on CBC Sports.

Water Polo

The Canadian Men’s and Women’s Senior National Teams are in Bauru, Brazil for the Pan Am Aquatics Championships taking place April 2-8. At stake are spots at this summer’s World Aquatics Championships, which will serve as the first opportunity to secure Olympic qualification for Paris 2024. The two finalist teams in both the men’s and women’s continental tournaments will advance to the world championships in Fukuoka, Japan.

The women’s team includes five players who competed at Tokyo 2020 while the men’s team has eight holdovers from the 2019 Pan Am Games team.

If you’re wondering what else to keep an eye on during the week, look no further, we offer one more event to watch:

Sailing

Multiple Canadian sailors will compete in the Trofeo Princesa Sofia taking place April 3-8 in Mallorca, Spain. The World Cup Series regatta will be used to select some athletes who will represent Canada at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games and the 2023 Sailing World Championships. Those two events will in turn serve as Olympic quota spot qualifiers for the country for Paris 2024.

In ILCA 6, Sarah Douglas was the champion of the Trofeo Princesa Sofia last year. Can she get her hands on the title again?

Olympians Ali ten Hove and Mariah Millen will compete in the 49er FX. Another Olympian, Will Jones, is in the 49er with crewman Justin Barnes.