At Sochi 2014, a trio Canadian snowboarders attacked the slopes of Russia in the first-ever Olympic slopestyle and big air competitions.
Their journeys have since greatly differed, but Mark McMorris, Max Parrot and Sebastien Toutant will each be back for their third Games at Beijing 2022.
“The skill is there. And the veteran wisdom and experience is there as well. … You can’t beat that,” said CBC snowboard analyst Craig McMorris, the older brother of Mark McMorris.
In addition to slopestyle and big air, riders will also compete in halfpipe, snowboard cross and parallel giant slalom events. The first medals in the sport will be awarded in women’s slopestyle on Feb. 6, with events running until men’s big air on Feb. 15.
Each event follows a roughly similar format, with qualification runs cutting down competitors ahead of the final.
The majority of Canada’s medal hopes lie in men’s slopestyle and big air. McMorris is a two-time slopestyle bronze medallist while Parrot took silver in the event in 2018. Toutant won big air gold in Pyeongchang.
And yet there’s a feeling of unrealized potential among the trio, who will be joined by 25-year-old Olympic rookie Darcy Sharpe in Beijing.
Entering Pyeongchang, Mark McMorris had just recovered from a near-fatal crash. Even if he wasn’t just happy to be there, the podium appearance was icing on the cake.
The 28-year-old Regina native currently ranks third in slopestyle and fourth in big air, leaving him right on the cusp of an Olympic medal. He won gold in the former while placing fourth in the latter at the recent X Games, though he’s also the reigning big air world champion.
It all means his expectations may be higher than bronze this time around.
WATCH | McMorris lands X Games slopestyle gold:
To prepare for Beijing, Craig McMorris said Sebastien Toutant has been snowboarding less than ever.
“But he’s riding better, which I think as you get older is like kind of a little bit of a secret because it’s so counterintuitive. You think you should snowboard every single day, but sometimes when you get older, you don’t need to.”
Toutant, of L’Assomption, Que., crashed out of slopestyle in Pyeongchang, placing last, before rebounding all the way to the top of the big air podium. The 29-year-old currently ranks fourth in slopestyle after a silver medal at worlds. His big air ranking suffered due to the lack of competition.
WATCH | Toutant takes World Cup gold in Calgary:
Then there’s Parrot, who since his Pyeongchang silver has recovered from cancer in time for another Olympics.
“There’s a lot of lessons I can transfer to snowboarding. … I feel in shape. I feel ready. So of course my goal is to go for the gold, that’s for sure. But I’m really happy as well that if I don’t get the gold, I won’t have any regrets,” Parrot said recently.
Parrot was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma just months after the 2018 Games, but following chemotherapy treatment he returned to competition less than a year later.
He says he’ll be more appreciative of his Olympic journey this time.
“Every time I step on my snowboard, I smile twice as [much] as before,” he said.
WATCH | Parrot snags big air silver at X Games:
Standing in the Canadians’ way is American Red Gerard, the current big air points leader and reigning Olympic slopestyle champion. Craig McMorris pointed to Gerard’s fellow American Dusty Henrickson as “an absolute gold-medal threat.” Norway’s Markus Kleveland also lingers with a top-seven ranking in both disciplines.
On the women’s side, Quebec City’s Laurie Blouin took slopestyle silver in 2018 following a training crash that nearly left her unable to compete.
“Going into Beijing, I just hope I’m not going to repeat what I did in practice, but I want to repeat the medal for sure,” Blouin told CBC Sports.
Blouin, 25, said she’s entering these Olympics the same way she would any other contest. And she’s unbothered by the pandemic-induced restriction on family and friends on site — she didn’t have any in Korea four years ago either, as she says it creates too much stress.
WATCH | Blouin bags slopestyle bronze in Aspen:
Regardless, she’s excited to be an Olympian once again.
“It means a lot. It’s pretty big to represent your country. It’s nice to wear the Canadian flag and Maple Leaf. I’m proud to be Canadian and proud to ride for Canada.”
The women’s field is deep, with returning gold medallist Jamie Anderson (U.S.) and Anna Gasser (Austria) joined by the likes of Japan’s Reira Iwabuchi and Kokomo Murase.
International stars should dominate halfpipe discussion — a pair of Americans, in particular.
Chloe Kim burst onto the scene as a 17-year-old in Pyeongchang, winning a worldwide audience with both her tricks on the course and her food-related tweets during competition.
Wish I finished my breakfast sandwich but my stubborn self decided not to and now I’m getting hangry
Kim went on to win gold, following in the footsteps of compatriot Shaun White, “The Flying Tomato” who took gold at 19 in 2006.
White would add two more gold medals after that, and heads into his fifth Olympics in Beijing ranked ninth.
Canada may be hoping for some teenage magic of its own, as 16-year-old Brooke D’Hondt — the youngest member of Team Canada — hits the slopes in China.
Qualifications for both women and men occur on Feb. 9. Women’s medals will be handed out the following day, while the men’s podium will be established one day after that.
Eliot Grondin was in D’Hondt’s position in Pyeongchang as the youngest member of Canada’s contingent at 16.
He placed just 36th in his Olympic debut, but Grondin has since evolved into a legitimate medal threat after taking bronze at the most recent world championships and gold at the world juniors.
Grondin, of Sainte-Marie, Que., currently ranks fourth in World Cup standings thanks to two podium appearances.
WATCH | Grondin snares World Cup silver:
Canada’s top performers in the 2018 event, Kevin Hill (eighth) and Zoe Bergermann (13th) will also compete in Beijing.
Canadians had taken medals in each of the previous three Olympics, with Dominique Maltais earning 2006 bronze and 2014 silver around Maelle Ricker’s 2010 gold. Mike Robertson took silver for the men in 2010.
Canada’s Tess Critchlow and Audrey McManiman both currently rank in the top 10.
The women’s races take place on Feb. 9, with the men going a day later.
Parallel giant slalom
Canada has six athletes competing in the event, with four just added following an appeal.
Megan Farrell, ranked 21st among the women, is the country’s best hope for a medal in an event that serves as snowboarding’s answer to alpine skiing.
The entire competition will be played out on Feb. 8.
WATCH | Marie Philip Poulin golden on and off the ice:
Makar gets love from Orr after winning 2022 Norris, Conn Smythe Trophies – NHL.com
Canuck icons Henrik, Daniel Sedin, Sens star Alfredsson lead 2022 Hockey Hall of Fame class – CBC Sports
Henrik and Daniel Sedin entered the NHL together.
The superstar twins then tormented a generation of opponents with the Vancouver Canucks throughout dominant careers that included mesmerizing displays of skill, individual accolades and unprecedented team success.
It’s only fitting the talented brothers will walk into the Hockey Hall of Fame side-by-side.
The Sedins headline the class of 2022 elected Monday, one with a decidedly West Coast and Swedish feel that includes former Canucks teammate Roberto Luongo, fellow countryman and former Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, Finnish women’s player Riikka Sallinen and builder Herb Carnegie.
“It’s not what you think about when you when you play the game,” said Henrik Sedin, who along with his brother and Luongo were in their first years of hall eligibility. “We’ve always just put our head down and tried to put in our work.
“What we were most proud of is that we got the most out of our talent.”
“Truly an amazing feeling,” Luongo added on a media conference call. “It feels surreal.”
WATCH | Daniel and Henrik Sedin have numbers retired in Vancouver:
Alfredsson, who’s has been eligible since 2017, thought he might have to wait at least another year until the phone rang at his home in Sweden.
“It’s such a privilege to be able to play this sport for a living,” he said. “Something I would have played for fun for my whole life without a question.”
“I’m probably the second-best Daniel out of this group,” joked Daniel Sedin, who along with his brother will be 42 when the induction ceremony takes place in November.
“Couldn’t be more honoured.”
Henrik Sedin — selected No. 3 overall at the 1999 draft, one spot behind Daniel — is Vancouver’s all-time leader in assists (830), points (1,070), games played (1,330) and power-play points (369).
The centre won the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP and the Art Ross Trophy as its leading scorer in 2009-10. He added 23 goals and 78 points in 105 playoff games, including the Canucks’ run to the 2011 Stanley Cup final.
If Henrik was the passer on what was one of hockey’s most dangerous lines, Daniel Sedin was the trigger man.
His 393 goals are first in team history, and the winger sits second in assists (648), points (1,041), games played (1,306) and power-play points (367).
Daniel Sedin won the Ted Lindsay Award as the league MVP as voted by NHL Players’ Association members in 2010-11 to go along with the Art Ross Trophy. He added 71 points in 102 playoff games.
“Just watching them work with each other on the ice and literally knowing where they are without even seeing each other was something that always blew my mind,” Luongo said of the Sedins. “They’re great teammates. Everybody loved them, great people.
“Not so great card players, but that’s for another day.”
The hall’s 2020 edition was finally inducted last November after a delay because of the COVID-19 pandemic after officials decided against naming a class of 2021.
The 18-member selection committee met in-person this year for the first time since 2019.
Luongo’s storied career began with Islanders
Luongo started his career with the New York Islanders and wrapped up with the Florida Panthers.
His best moments, however, were on the West Coast.
When he retired, Luongo ranked third in NHL history with 489 wins, a number that’s since been surpassed by Marc-Andre Fleury.
The 43-year-old sits second behind Martin Brodeur in three goaltending categories — games played (1,044), shots against (30,924) and saves (28,409).
Luongo twice won 40 games with the Canucks, including an eye-popping 47 victories in 2006-07, and made at least 70 appearances in four straight seasons.
“He was the difference for us to get the next level,” Henrik Sedin said. “If you’re talking about a winner, he’s the guy.
“Never took a day off.”
A finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top netminder on three occasions, Luongo sat behind only Sidney Crosby in Hart Trophy voting following his 47-win campaign.
The Montreal native won two Olympic gold medals, leading Canada to the top of the podium in Vancouver in 2010 before backing up Carey Price in Sochi four years later.
“It’s a really, truly humbling experience,” Luongo said before adding of the Sedins: “And the best part of the whole thing is that I get to go in with two of my favourite teammates of all time and two of the greatest people I know.”
Best line in hockey <br><br>Luongo-Sedin-Sedin
Alfredsson scored 444 goals in 18 seasons
Alfredsson put up 444 goals, 713 assists and 1,157 points during his 18 NHL seasons.
The face of the Senators for a generation in the nation’s capital won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year in 1996, and added 100 points in 124 playoff contests.
“We looked up to the way he plays hockey and what kind of person he is,” Henrik Sedin said.
Alfredsson, who won Olympic gold with the Sedins in 2006 and led Ottawa to the 2007 Cup final, thanked Senators fans for helping him get over the hall hump, including a social media campaign this spring that included boosts from the organization and former teammates.
“Really special with the support I’ve had from Ottawa throughout my career from the beginning until this day,” said the 49-year-old, who owns the franchise record for goals, assists and points. “They’ve been a real big supporter of mine and trying to help me get into the Hall of Fame.
“They’re behind me all the way … it goes both ways.”
Sallinen played 16 seasons with the Finnish women’s national team, winning Olympic bronze in both 1998 and 2018.
She added a silver at the 2019 world championships to go along with six third-place finishes. In all, the 48-year-old scored 63 goals and added 59 assists in 81 games for her country.
Hall of Fame selection committee chair Mike Gartner, who was inducted in 2012, said on the media call that Sallinen had yet to be informed of the honour, but quipped she should pick up the phone and dial in if she was listening.
Carnegie, who died in March 2012 at age 92, has often been mentioned as the best Black hockey player to never play in the NHL.
Following a long career in senior hockey where he faced racism that kept him from achieving his ultimate dream, Carnegie founded Future Aces, one of Canada’s first hockey schools, in 1955.
He was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2001, the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 2014, and was also named to the Order of Ontario and the Order of Canada.
“This is so important to so many people out there who believed in my father,” said Herb Carnegie’s daughter, Bernice. “Whether he was golfing or whether he was in business or whether he was working with thousands upon thousands of young people, it always came back to hockey and how his how he learned so much from the game.
“I am so proud.”
Report: Nets’ Kyrie Irving opting into $37M player option for 2022-23 season – Sportsnet.ca
NEW YORK — Kyrie Irving has decided to exercise his $36.9 million option for the coming season and will remain under contract with the Brooklyn Nets, two people with knowledge of his decision said Monday.
The people spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the Nets had not confirmed the decision publicly.
The Athletic first reported Irving’s decision. “Normal people keep the world going, but those who dare to be different lead us into tomorrow. I’ve made my decision to opt in. See you in the fall,” the outlet quoted Irving as saying.
On Twitter, Irving posted a separate statement: “I know who I am,” was the message there.
For now, that still means a member of the Nets.
The seven-time All-Star averaged 27.4 points and 5.8 assists this past season for the Nets, with whom he has spent the last three seasons. He’s about to enter the final season in a four-year, $137 million deal with Brooklyn.
Irving had until Wednesday to inform the Nets of his opt-in decision. It closes one element of the ongoing saga regarding Irving’s future, which has been one of the biggest storylines as the league prepares for the start of free agency later this week.
He appeared in only 29 regular-season games this past season, largely because of his decision to not be vaccinated against COVID-19. That made him ineligible to play in most of Brooklyn’s home games, until getting an exemption to New York City’s mandate in the spring.
The Nets entered this past season thinking they would have a core of Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden. It didn’t work out anywhere near as planned; Irving wasn’t with the team for the majority of the season, Harden ended up getting traded to Philadelphia, the Nets needed to survive the play-in tournament just to make the playoffs and wound up getting swept in the first round by eventual Eastern Conference champion Boston.
Back in March, Irving was asked if he was planning to return to Brooklyn for next season. He gave no indication otherwise.
“I love it here,” Irving said at the time. “Once that summertime hits, I know that we’ll have some conversations. But there’s no way I can leave my man 7 anywhere.”
Summertime hit. The conversations apparently didn’t go as first planned.
And “my man 7” — that meant Durant, who wears jersey No. 7 for the Nets — may have been seeing his point guard departing, a move that certainly could have led to Durant pondering his own future in Brooklyn.
But with Irving presumably back, and with Ben Simmons — who didn’t play at all this season and was acquired by the Nets in the Harden trade — set to team up alongside Irving and Durant this coming season, Brooklyn could quickly return to contender status.
Irving could have made this all go away over the weekend, or at least turned the full boil down closer to simmer, when asked by Complex News at the BET Awards if he still wants to play for the Nets. He declined to answer. He wasn’t rude about it, did it with a smile, but didn’t provide so much as a hint.
A tiny one came Monday when the clip was posted to Instagram and Irving was among those to comment.
“When I smile like that, it means there’s more to the story,” Irving wrote Monday, several hours before his opt-in decision was revealed. “I’ll have my time to address things.”
NBA free agency opens Thursday at 6 p.m. ET.
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