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Powerhouse Canada back on glory trail

China Daily | Updated: 2022-01-25 09:40
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Having competed at every Winter Olympic Games since 1924, and always returning home with at least one medal, Team Canada is primed to repeat its long history of success in Beijing.

Pyeongchang 2018 was Canada's most successful Winter Olympics to date, with the country winning 11 gold medals and 29 in total.

However, sports data provider Gracenote forecasts that Canada's tally will drop to 23-six gold, six silver and 11 bronze-in Beijing.

Predicting results at the Games has been made extra difficult by the pandemic, with countries potentially losing athletes due to positive COVID-19 tests.

In the field of winter sports, Canada is perhaps best known as an ice hockey powerhouse.

Since being added to the Olympic program in 1998 in Nagano, women's ice hockey has been dominated by Canada, with the country claiming four gold and two silver medals since then.

Canada's 2022 squad features 13 returning Olympians who will bid to better their silver-medal performance in Pyeongchang. Their closest rival is defending champion Team USA.

Meanwhile on the men's side, the withdrawal of National Hockey League (NHL) players means Canada will likely miss out on gold and possibly a medal of any sort.

Freestyle skiing has also been a happy hunting ground for Canada. Since 2010, Canadians have won 10 out of 26 events in the sport, including four in 2018. Defending men's moguls champion Mikael Kingsbury is strongly favored to retain his title in Beijing.

There are also high expectations in women's ski cross, with three Canadians in the top five of the 2022 World Cup standings. Marielle Thompson, the 2014 gold medalist, and 2018 silver medalist Brittany Phelan are Canada's best hopes of upsetting world No 1 Sandra Naeslund of Sweden.

Snowboarding should yield at least one gold medal for Canada. In men's Big Air, Maxence Parrot and Mark McMorris are looking to better their second- and third-place finishes from 2018. Parrot is returning from a battle against cancer in 2019.

Canada is tipped to collect three speed skating titles in Beijing. Men's 500m world champion Laurent Dubreuil and Ivanie Blondin (women's mass start) are the favorites to capture gold in their disciplines. Blondin is projected to win a second gold in the women's team pursuit.

Dutch-born Ted-Jan Bloeman is expected to be in the medal mix in the 10,000m and 5,000m, where he won gold and silver respectively in Pyeongchang.

In short-track speed skating, Canada will hope to at least match the five medals it won at the 2018 Games.

The most notable name is 37-year-old Charles Hamelin, who will participate in his fifth and final Olympics. The five-time medalist will be looking to become Canada's most decorated Olympian when he goes in the men's 5,000m relay.

On the women's side, Canada is led by Kim Boutin, who took home three medals (1,000m silver, and bronze in both 500m and 1,500m) in her Olympic debut in Pyeongchang. The 27-year-old has continued to add to her accolades, especially in the 500m distance where she captured the 2019-20 World Cup season title and was runner-up in 2021-22.

Despite winning the mixed team curling gold in 2018, Canada failed to reach the podium in the men's and women's tournaments.

Brad Gushue, the 2006 Olympic champion, will skipper Canada's men's curling squad in Beijing. The Canadians are expected to face tough competition from Britain, led by Bruce Mouat.

On the women's side, Canada is relying on Jennifer Jones' team, which hopes to repeat its triumph from the 2014 Games in Sochi.


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