Beijing 2022 ICYMI: Week one in the books

The Aquinian's radio producer, Peter Jewett, is the creator of "Fast Takes," the sports column for 2021-22 academic year. (Aaron Sousa and Peter Jewett/AQ)

As Norway begins to separate itself from the competition in terms of medal count, Canada leads all countries at Beijing 2022 in the most bronze medal count with nine. Canada’s lone gold medal comes from snowboarder Max Parrot in the slopestyle event.

Five of Canada’s 14 medals are from snowboarding events – more than any other country so far. Canadian athletes will look to add to the tally this week as big air gets underway tonight and wraps up by Tuesday morning. After questioning the validity of his teammate Parrot’s gold medal, Mark McMorris aims to claim the first podium-topper of his Olympic career.

Canadians Eliot Grondin and Meryeta O’Dine won a silver and bronze medal in the men’s and women’s snowboard cross events and then teamed up to collect another bronze in the mixed team event. In a memorable moment, Italian rider Caterina Carpano landed on top of O’Dine after a jump, causing the pair to crash on the closing stretch of the course. O’Dine got back up and shuffled her way up the next hill to finish third.

Canadian speed skater Steven Dubois, centre, races for silver in the men’s 1500m final. He also added a bronze last night in the men’s 500m final. (Submitted: Olympics)

Two other Canadians to win multiple medals are short track speed skaters Isabelle Weidemann and Steven Dubois. Weidemann added a silver medal in the women’s 5,000 meters to go along with her 3,000 meters bronze from last week, while Dubois placed third in the men’s 500 meters this morning after winning silver in the men’s 1,500 meters earlier in the week. Dubois also helped Canada’s 5,000 meters relay team qualify for the final on Wednesday morning. If Canada wins a medal, it will be Charles Hamelin’s sixth career Olympic medal, tying him with long track speed skater Cindy Klassen for the most Winter Olympic medals by a Canadian.

Canada is the first North American country since the first-ever Winter Olympics in 1924 to win an Olympic medal in ski jumping. Alexandria Loutitt, Abigail Strate, Matthew Soukup and Mackenzie Boyd-Clowes scored 884.6 points, good enough for third place.

Disappointment and controversy

Freestyle skier Elena Gaskell said she was “absolutely devastated” following a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus on a practice run in Beijing. The 20-year-old was scheduled to compete in women’s big air, slopestyle and halfpipe skiing.

Superstar figure skater, 15-year-old Kamila Valieva, was a crucial part of the Russian Olympic Committee’s gold medal effort in the mixed team event. But controversy clouds the event after a sample from Valieva came back positive for a banned substance. The situation is extremely fluid and difficult to navigate, but keep in mind that medals haven’t been handed out for the event yet. Canada, who finished fourth, is in a position to receive a bronze medal if ROC is stripped of its first place finish.

On the curling sheet, Canada’s mixed doubles team of John Morris and Rachel Homan missed out on a playoff spot. The last shot of their final game in the qualifying round came up a millimetre short, giving Italy the 8-7 win in extra ends. The Italians would go on to win gold in the event. Morris and Homan were unable to find a groove and suffered enough losses that they were unable to defend Canada’s gold medal in mixed doubles from 2018.

Lock in!

One sport I’m looking forward to this week is bobsleigh! Things already got started with monobob last night as Canadians Cynthia Appiah and Christine de Bruin had their first two runs. de Bruin’s first two runs have her in second place behind Kaillie Humphries, the former Canadian athlete now competing for the United States. Appiah is not far behind in 10th  place out of 20 competitors. The final two runs are tonight at 9:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. and medals will be handed out shortly after.

Christine de Bruin, seen above, and Cynthia Appiah are the two Canadians competing in monobob. de Bruin is in position to secure a medal ahead of today’s final two runs. (Submitted: Olympics)

After monobob wraps up, it’s the two-man event on Monday and Tuesday, then the two-woman and four-man events on Friday and Saturday. As ridiculous as four muscular men in spandex look sprinting on ice and then riding a metal bucket at breakneck speeds for less than a minute, it’s impossible to look away once you tune in.

In men’s hockey, things aren’t all sunshine and roses. They opened the tournament with a convincing 5-1 win against Germany on Thursday. The mood behind the team quickly changed on Friday as goalie Eddie Pasquale allowed four goals in the team’s 4-2 loss to the U.S.

Fans from across the country are calling for head coach Claude Julien to make a swap in the net. Youngster Devon Levi is unproven on a stage like the Olympics, but his .948 National Collegiate Athletic Association career save percentage is certainly high enough to warrant some game action. On the bright side, the Canadians took down China 5-0 this morning and will play China again on Tuesday for a spot in the quarterfinals.

In the women’s tournament, the Canadians have cemented their position as the top team in the tournament by going undefeated on the group stage, including a hard-fought 4-2 win over eternal rivals, the U.S. After shellacking Sweden 11-0 in the quarterfinal, they face Switzerland early on Monday morning at 12:10 a.m. for a chance to play in the gold medal game. So forget about the Super Bowl and strap in for what should be another Canadian win. These teams played on Feb. 2 in the preliminary round and Canada won 11-1. I’d say it’s safe to mark Thursday morning at 12:10 a.m. down on your calendar for the gold medal match – likely against the U.S. again.

There’s so much more to come in the final week of these Olympics! Canada’s women’s and men’s curling teams stand a good chance of winning a medal, there’s more figure skating, skiing and speed skating. Check back next week for a recap of Canada’s highlights and lowlights of the games!