The first Sunday of the 2018 Winter Olympics is a busy one and Canada could collect several medals.
Here are five things to watch:
Speedskater Ted-Jan Bloemen holds the world record in the men’s 5,000 metres and is among the medal favourites in the event Sunday. Bloemen is native of the Netherlands, where speedskating is a way of life. But he moved to Calgary in 2014 and through his father, who was born in New Brunswick, he was able to compete for Canada. The shift has been a good fit. He says the intimate culture of Canada’s long-track team at the Olympic Oval suits him better than the hypercompetitive hothouse back home.
The Canadian men’s ski team suffered a blow just prior to the Games when world champion Erik Guay was forced to withdraw due to a back injury. But teammate Manuel Osborne-Paradis of Invermere, B.C., showed he shouldn’t be counted out for Sunday’s downhill when he posted the fastest run in Thursday’s training. He says the field is so tight, it “really is a coin toss within the top five to 10 guys who gets to be top three at any given race.”
Canada kicks off defence of its gold medal in women’s hockey with a game against the “Olympic Athletes of Russia.” The Russian women are not allowed to compete under their country’s flag. The International Olympic Committee had banned Russia because of a massive doping scheme at the 2014 Sochi Games, but gave athletes the chance to apply for admission to compete. Regardless of who’s on the Russian roster, Canada should come away with a comfortable win. Russia was sixth in Sochi, where Canada won gold.
Snowboarder Max Parrot goes into the men’s slopestyle event with high expectations now that he’s no longer an Olympic rookie. Parrot finished fifth four years ago in Sochi when he was just 19.
He’s a medal favourite this time around – not only in slopestyle but also in the big air event – after reaching the top three in 10 of 15 events this season. He feels like he’s at the top of his game, recently saying he’s reached the level where he’s the one “who is pushing the limits.”
SISTER ACT 2
Defending moguls gold medallist Justine Dufour-Lapointe of Montreal booked her spot in the final on Friday but her sister Chloe, who won silver four years ago, didn’t qualify and will need to go through a second round before Sunday’s final. The Dufour-Lapointe sisters won the hearts of Canadians at the 2014 Sochi Games when they shared the podium. Their older sister Maxime also competed in Russia but didn’t qualify for the Pyeongchang Games.