Disclaimer: This was written before February 4th.
The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics officially kick off after the February 4th opening ceremonies, although events began on February 2nd. Over the next few weeks, Canada will look to defend its 29 medals from Pyeongchang, including 11 gold. It may prove difficult to watch your favourite events live given the time difference, but here’s the biggest storylines for Team Canada that you can follow if you’re pulling an all-nighter to finish an assignment and feel the need for some background noise at 3:40am.
After failing to medal in both the men’s and women’s competitions at the last Olympics for the first time in twenty years, Canada’s curlers will look to bounce back. Former gold medallists will be at skip on both teams in Brad Gushue and Jennifer Jones, the 2006 and 2014 Olympic champions respectively. They will be looking to reclaim Olympic glory for Canada, with the men’s first game on February 9th against Denmark while the women will play Korea on February 10th.
On the mixed doubles side, John Morris and Rachel Homan will defend the gold medal that Morris won in Pyeongchang with Kaitlyn Lawes. Their competition has already started with a loss against Great Britain and wins against Norway, Switzerland, and China. Their next game is February 5th against Sweden.
2018 saw the last Olympics for some of the most well-known Canadian figure skaters, including Patrick Chan, Tessa Virtue, and Scott Moir. However, there are still other returning skaters as well as newcomers to defend Canada’s gold medal in the team event. Reigning pairs bronze medallist Eric Radford has come out of retirement to compete with Vanessa James, who will be representing Canada for the first time in Beijing after representing France in the previous three Olympics. Figure skating begins with the team event from February 3rd to February 7th.
Canada has qualified 24 freestyle skiers across all of the events. Leading the team is Mikaël Kingsbury, defending Olympic champion and world champion in the moguls. Also competing in moguls are reigning silver medallist Justine Dufour-Lapointe and her older sister Chloé, known for being the first Canadian sisters to stand on the Olympic podium together in 2014. The freestyle skiing events started on February 3rd with men’s and women’s moguls, which saw both Kingsbury, who placed first, and Justine Dufour-Lapointe advance to the finals. Chloé Dufour-Lapointe has another chance to qualify on February 6th.
Of the ten athletes named to Canada’s short track speedskating team, seven will make their Olympic debuts. The most familiar face to those who only watch speedskating every four years is 5-time Olympic medallist Charles Hamelin, competing at his fifth Olympic Games. Also returning is Kim Boutin, who won three medals in 2018, and Pascal Dion, who won bronze in the 2018 men’s relay. The short track competition begins on February 5th with three events, including the mixed relay.
On the long track, Canada has nine returning athletes, including 10000m Olympic record holder Ted-Jan Bloeman. Bloeman won Canada’s only two medals on the long track in 2018 and will be competing in the 5000m, 10000m, and team pursuit. Other notable athletes are Laurent Dubreuil, who just broke the 500m national record at the World Cup, and two-time women’s mass start world champion Ivanie Blondin. The long track competition also starts February 5th with the women’s 3000m, where Blondin will be one of three Canadians competing.
After a silver medal in Pyeongchang, Canada’s women will look to reclaim gold from the US, which had previously been theirs for four straight Olympic Games. The team has thirteen players returning from 2018, six of which were also on the gold medal-winning team in 2014. They will be led by captain Marie-Philip Poulin, who famously scored the golden goal in both 2010 and 2014, as well as at the recent World Championship. Although this will be her fourth Olympics, it will be her first as captain. One newcomer to watch is 21 year old Sarah Fillier, who scored five goals in the six game Canada-USA Rivalry Series last year and two in her Olympic debut on February 2nd.
All but one member of the women’s team is fresh off of winning gold at August’s World Championship, and they are looking to restore Canada’s dominance in women’s hockey. They opened the tournament with a 12-1 win over Switzerland and will hit the ice next on February 4th against Finland.
After an Olympics without NHL players in 2018, fans were excited in September when the league announced that players would be going to Beijing. However, this excitement was taken away when they went back on that decision on December 20th, citing COVID concerns. As a result, Canada will once again send a team of former NHL-ers that now play in international leagues, including three returning players from 2018.
The biggest name on the roster is longtime NHL center Eric Staal, who went to the Stanley Cup Final with the Montreal Canadiens last year and has played professionally since 2003. Currently an NHL free agent, Staal won gold at Vancouver 2010 and has been named team captain. Other big names are 19 year olds Owen Power and Mason McTavish, the first and third overall picks of the most recent NHL draft. Both were on Canada’s world junior team that had their tournament cut short due to COVID in December. A notable goalie selected is Devon Levi, known for his play at the 2021 World Juniors, where he was named best goaltender and set an all-time tournament save percentage record en route to a silver medal.
With this team, Canada will look for their first gold medal at an Olympics without NHL participation since 1952. They will play in Group A for the preliminary round against China, Germany, and the US, with their first game against Germany on February 10th.
Honourable Mention – Snowboarding: Reigning snowboard big air silver medalist Max Parrot, who beat Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2019, will be competing in the slopestyle and big air events on February 7th and 14th.
You can find the full schedule and results here: https://olympic.ca/beijing-2022-winter-olympic-schedule/
Canada unveils non-NHL Olympic hockey roster with pro experience, young talent: https://www.cbc.ca/sports/olympics/winter/hockey/olympics-team-canada-men-hockey-1.6325564
Moguls star Mikaël Kingsbury leads Canada’s 24-member Olympic freestyle team: https://www.cbc.ca/sports/olympics/winter/freestyle-skiing/mikael-kingsbury-canadian-olympic-freestyle-team-beijing-1.6325326
Olympic watch: Players to look for on team Canada: https://www.tsn.ca/olympic-watch-players-to-look-for-on-team-canada-1.1747631
3 speed skating veterans lead inexperience Canadian Olympic short track team: https://www.cbc.ca/sports/olympics/winter/short-track-speed-skating/canada-short-track-team-speed-skating-beijng-olympics-1.6319095
Speed skating Olympians Blondin, Dubreuil front Canada’s long track team for Beijing: https://www.cbc.ca/sports/olympics/winter/speed-skating/canada-long-track-team-speed-skating-beijng-olympics-1.6317853