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Canada’s Gushue defeats Japan’s Yanagisawa at world men’s curling championship

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OTTAWA — After an uneven opening weekend at the world men’s curling championship, Brad Gushue’s Canadian team delivered a vintage performance at an ideal time.

Gushue and vice Mark Nichols displayed their shotmaking mettle Monday and the front end of Geoff Walker and E.J. Harnden also delivered in a 6-3 win over a plucky Japanese side at TD Place.

“I think it was a must-win and I think we’re in that position for a little while now,” Gushue said. “The next probably two or three games I think are all in that boat.

“You don’t want to get too far behind the 8-ball knowing some of the teams that we have left.”

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Canada (3-2) avoided falling below the .500 mark and remained in the top six — right at the playoff cutline — in the 13-team field after seven sessions.

Gushue’s St. John’s, N.L.-based side struggled mightily in an opening loss to Switzerland on Saturday before rebounding with a win over Italy. Another split followed Sunday with a win over New Zealand and loss to Norway.

The so-so start to the nine-day competition has put some added pressure on the host side. Gushue wasn’t fazed as he prevented a big score in the second end by freezing against three to force Japan to a single.

“To make it as perfect as we did was definitely a confidence boost,” he said.

A tap for two in the third end gave Canada a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. Another pair was tacked on in the seventh and a couple of highlight-reel shots came in the eighth to essentially ice it.

Nichols wowed the partisan crowd with a triple-takeout to sit four and Gushue followed with a double that set up a force.

“Two good end-saving shots because we got ourselves into a bit of trouble that end with some of our rock positioning early on,” Gushue said.

Canada ran Japan out of rocks in the 10th. Five of the eight players — including both skips — shot over 90 per cent.

The 16th-ranked Japanese side — which includes 16-year-old Takeru Yamamoto at second — has risen exponentially up the rankings after winning four titles this season.

Vice Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi is the only player on the team with world men’s championship and Olympic experience.

“What I’m happy about is they’re playing well,” said coach Bob Ursel. “We weren’t too concerned about the wins and losses, we really wanted to get some experience and play well and that’s what’s happened.”

Entering the evening draw, Japan (3-1) was in a third-place tie with Scotland’s Bruce Mouat and Switzerland’s Yannick Schwaller.

Reigning world and Olympic champion Niklas Edin of Sweden won both of his games Monday to improve to 5-0. Norway’s Magnus Ramsfjell is also unbeaten at 4-0.

Italy’s Joel Retornaz was alone in seventh place at 2-2. Round-robin play continues through Friday night and medal games are scheduled for Sunday.

Canada will next play Lukas Klima of the Czech Republic (1-3) on Tuesday before beginning a run of three straight two-game days.

Gushue still has to play American John Shuster — the 2018 Olympic champ — as well as both Scotland and Sweden, who met in last year’s final at the Winter Games.

Gushue, the world No. 4, settled for silver in his last two world championship appearances. His lone world title came in 2017 at Edmonton.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 3, 2023.

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

 

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Sail Canada says coach fired because lack of money, not pregnancy

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Lisa Ross wants her job back.

The two-time Olympic sailor for Canada was named to the national sailing team’s coaching staff three years ago.

Nine days after telling Sail Canada in March she was pregnant and would take maternity leave later this year, Ross was fired.

Ross was in Andora, Italy, where she’d been coaching Canadian sailors at the European championship. She was about to head to Spain for more competitions and training camps.

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The 46-year-old from Mahone Bay, N.S., said during the March 17 video call with Sail Canada’s chief executive officer Don Adams and high-performance director Mike Milner, she was told to pack her bags and return to Canada.

“It was strange and shocking,” Ross told The Canadian Press. “It was a five-minute phone call where I was fired, basically, without cause.

“I was in Europe. I was in the middle of a planned six-week trip.”

Sail Canada said lack of money, and not Ross’s pregnancy, was the reason for her firing.

“Sail Canada terminated Lisa Ross’s contract for financial reasons which had nothing to do with Lisa Ross being pregnant,” the organization said in a statement to The Canadian Press.

“Discussions and the decision to terminate Lisa Ross’s contract took place well before she verbally informed Sail Canada high performance director that she was pregnant.

$80,000 annual salary

Sail Canada said Ross’s salary was supported by Sport Canada Gender Equity funding, which was eliminated at the end of the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

“Sail Canada was able to maintain Lisa Ross’s position in the next fiscal year through the Return to Sport funding program but, unfortunately, that funding is no longer available in 2023-2024,” the organization said.

Ross’s annual salary was $80,000. The federal government renewed its funding for gender equity in sport in October with a commitment of $25.3 million over three years.

“This is not available at present, but we have been informed it may be some time in the future,” Sail Canada said in a statement. “We do not know if female coaching will be part of the areas of funding.

Sail Canada said it made its decision to fire Ross “because of financial reasons based on the information available at the time of budget finalization.”

I would have liked the opportunity, if funding was the issue, to visit any possibility of ensuring I can continue in my role …— Former Sail Canada coach Lisa Ross on her firing

“With the 2023-2024 Olympic season fast approaching, and in order for Sail Canada to prioritize Olympic hopefuls and maintain a balanced budget, Sail Canada has to make drastic cuts to its high-performance budget.”

Sail Canada said it sought a Nova Scotia labour lawyer’s advice on Feb. 21 to vet the decision to dismiss Ross.

Ross departed for Europe at the end of February and had no inkling her job was on the chopping block until she was sacked March 17.

“I just would have liked the opportunity, if funding was the issue, to visit any possibility of ensuring that I can continue in my role as one of the more senior coaches on the staff,” Ross said.

Sail Canada said it waited until after the European championship March 10-17 to fire her “so that it would not become a distraction for the athletes.”

Another female hired on contract basis

Ross was the only woman on Sail Canada’s technical staff of a high-performance director and coaches.

Since her dismissal, Rosie Chapman was hired on a contract basis.

Chapman is partially subsidized by athletes and costs 20 per cent of a full-time salary, Sail Canada said.

Ross competed for Canada in 2004 in Athens in women’s three-person keelboat and 2008 in Beijing in women’s dinghy.

She coached laser sailor Brenda Bowskill at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Ross was named the Canadian sailing team’s development coach in 2020, but she coached the senior men’s laser team that year.

Ross didn’t coach at Tokyo’s Olympics in 2021. She was on maternity leave with her second child.

She was coaching the 49er FX women’s development team when she was fired. Her third child is due Sept. 1.

She’d planned to continue coaching until August when she could no longer fly.

Ross intended to be back with the athletes in time for January’s world championship and to help prepare them for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. She says she communicated that plan to Sail Canada the day she told the organization she was pregnant.

Milner replied that same day: “You should also know Rosie and I have been talking on and off for more than a year on joining our team and I think this is a great opportunity for the girls while you are on mat leave.”

Lawsuit not filed against Sail Canada

Milner also wrote in that email to Ross that his “initial thought” would be to have Chapman become the international coach after April’s Princess Sofia or Hyeres regattas “and focus you on domestic training.”

Ross has filed claims with Nova Scotia’s Labour Standards Board and Human Rights Commission but has not sued Sail Canada.

“I’m not asking for a massive amount of money,” Ross said. “I’m asking for my job back.”

The World Sailing Trust recently launched a half-dozen recommendations under an initiative called Project Juno to “support better maternity policies in sailing.”

While Sail Canada insists her pregnancy did not cost Ross her job, it says the organization has pregnancy and parental leave policy “that is in keeping with the Ontario Employment Standards Act” and subject to Sport Canada’s Athletes Assistance Program policies and procedures.

Ross says she has never seen that policy.

She hasn’t filed a complaint with the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC), which was established almost a year ago to administer Canadian sport’s universal code of conduct. Sail Canada is a signatory to OSIC.

“I want my job back, so I want to focus on that,” Ross said. “I want to be a part of the sport system that I’ve been a part of since I was 17.

“I went to my first Pan Am Games when I was 17. It’s been a scary process to go through, just even with my relationship with Sail Canada because that’s been a huge part of my life and I want that to continue.”

 

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Jubilant Latvians given national holiday after shock ice hockey win over USA

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Latvians woke up to go to work Monday morning, only to find they didn’t have to. Their parliament had met at midnight to declare a holiday after the national ice hockey team chalked up its best result at the world championship.

Latvia, where hockey is hugely popular, co-hosted the men’s championship with Finland, and the country’s 4-3 overtime victory over the United States for the bronze medal on Sunday was greeted with jubilation.

A plane bringing the team home from Finland flew at low altitude over central Riga on Monday to greet thousands of fans who had gathered to welcome the squad.

At quarter to midnight on Sunday, members of parliament, sporting red-and-white national team jerseys, convened for a 10-minute session to unanimously declare the holiday.

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It was “to strengthen the fact of significant success of Latvian athletes in the social memory of the society,” according to the bill’s sponsors.

The bill was introduced by a smiling member of parliament with her face painted in the colors of the national flag. Another giggled while trying to read out the names of absent parliamentarians, to laughter from many in the hall. There was an ovation from everyone present after the final vote.

But as dawn broke, there was confusion about who was working and who was not. Court hearings were canceled and schools and universities were closed, but national exams for high school students went ahead, with staff paid at holiday rates. Several hospitals chose to stay open to honor doctor appointments.

Businesses found themselves in some disarray, with Aigars Rostovskis, the president of the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, telling public broadcaster LSM: “It will be chaos for many.”

Canada won the gold medal, the team’s record 28th world title, by defeating Germany 5-2 on Sunday.

 

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Kamloops Blazers rout Peterborough Petes 10-2 in Memorial Cup

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KAMLOOPS, British Columbia — Logan Stankoven had a goal and four assists, Connor Levis had a goal and two assists and the Kamloops Blazers routed the Ontario Hockey League champion Peterborough Petes 10-2 in the Memorial Cup on Sunday.

The win came after Kamloops defenseman Kyle Masters was taken off the ice on a stretcher after he was hit and fell backward into the corner boards with less than seven minutes remaining. There was no immediate word on Masters’ condition.

Ryan Michael, Fraser Minten, Ashton Ferster, Matthew Seminoff, Dylan Sydor, Jakub Demek, Matthew Seminoff and Ryan Hofer each scored goals for the Blazers, who bounced back from an 8-3 loss to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Quebec Remparts on Friday night.

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Caedan Bankier and Olen Zellweger also added two assists each for the Blazers, who scored four power-play goals and improved to 1-1 in the four-team, 10-day tournament.

Peterborough dropped to 0-2 and must beat Quebec on Tuesday to advance.

 

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