The Australian Open will be my primary focus this weekend as the results of the first major on the 2017 calendar will be decided. Other events I will be watching this weekend are the Winter X Games, the NHL All-Star Game, and the Farmers Insurance Open.
Australian Open Women’s Final—(2) Serena Williams—USA vs. (13) Venus Williams—USA—TSN—12:30 a.m. PT—It could be an historic night in the history of women’s tennis. That is because if Serena Williams of Saginaw, Michigan is victorious, she will have won her 23rd grand slam title and pass Steffi Graf for the most grand slam singles titles ever. However in order to accomplish that feat Serena will need to beat her sister Venus. Head-to-head Serena has the 16-11 advantage including 6-2 in finals. The last time Venus and Serena Williams faced each other in a Grand Slam final was in Wimbledon, 2009, where Serena beat Venus 7-6, 6-2.
World Luge Championships—Women’s singles—www.cbcsports.ca—3 a.m. PT—The world’s best female lugers will be competing this weekend in Innsbruck, Austria for the World Championship. Canada will be represented by Calgary’s Alex Gough and Victoria’s Kimberley McRae. Gough has won two bronze medals for Canada in World Championship singles competition in the past. On the World Cup circuit this season, Gough has one gold medal and two bronze medals, while McRae has a silver medal. The luger to beat is the great Olympic champion, Natalie Geisenberger of Germany.
World Luge Championships—Men’s doubles—CBC—10 a.m. PT—The world’s best doubles lugers will be competing on Saturday from Innsbruck as well. Canada will be represented by Calgary’s Justin Snith and Tristan Walker who are currently ranked 11th in the world. The gold medal favourites will come from two German sleds. Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken along with Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt are ranked first and second respectively in the World Cup standings. Wendl and Arlt are the reigning Olympic champions and have won the last three gold medals in men’s doubles luge at the World Championship.
Winter X Games—Men’s Slopestyle Skiing—ABC—10 a.m. PT—In one of the most interesting events for winter extreme sports on the calendar, the world’s best slopestyle skiers will be competing in Aspen, Colorado. Canada will be represented by Alex Beaulieu-Marchand of Quebec City, Alex Bellemare of St. Boniface, Quebec, and Evan McEachran of Toronto. At the 2015 Winter X Games, Bellemare won the bronze medal. The reigning X Games champion is Jossi Wells of New Zealand and the reigning Olympic champion is Joss Christensen of the United States. Both Wells and Christensen are in the 2017 Winter X Games field.
PGA Tour–Farmers Insurance Open—CBS—12 p.m. PT—For the second consecutive week, Canada’s Adam Hadwin is in contention for a win on the PGA Tour. One week after finishing second and shooting a third round score of 59 at the CareerBuilder Challenge in La Quinta, California, Hadwin is only two strokes back of Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose of Great Britain in the second round of the Farmers Insurance Open. Hadwin looks to be very close to winning his first PGA Tour event. The third round takes place Saturday and the fourth round on Sunday.
Winter X Games—Women’s Slopestyle Snowboarding—ABC—12:15 p.m. PT—The world’s best female slopestyle snowboarders will be competing in Aspen, Colorado on Saturday. It will be interesting to see if Vancouver’s Spencer O’Brien will take part. O’Brien pulled out of the women’s big air snowboarding competition on Thursday because she sprained her ankle after colliding with a course worker during practice. O’Brien won the gold medal in women’s slopestyle snowboarding at the 2013 World Snowboarding Championships in Stoneham, Quebec and is the reigning X Games champion in the discipline.
World Cup Moguls—www.cbcsports.ca—1:15 p.m. PT—The world’s best mogul skiers will be competing at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary this weekend. Last week in Val St. Come, Quebec, the Canadian women swept the podium, with Canadian Olympic gold medalist Justine Dufour-Lapointe of Montreal winning gold, Andi Naude of Regina winning silver and Canadian Olympic silver medalist Chloe Dufour-Lapointe of Montreal winning bronze. Canadian Olympic silver medalist Mikael Kingsbury of Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec meanwhile won the men’s World Cup event last week in Val St. Come, and will be the heavy favourite in Calgary.
Australian Open Men’s Final—(9) Rafael Nadal—ESP vs. (17) Roger Federer—SUI—TSN—12:30 a.m. PT—Just like the women’s final, this is a dream matchup for Australian Open organizers. Nadal and Federer are simply two of the very best tennis players of all-time. Federer has won 17 grand slam titles and Nadal has won 14. Head-to-head in grand slam finals, Nadal has the 6 to 2 advantage with the last matchup coming at the 2011 French Open where Nadal beat Federer 7-5, 7-6, 5-7, 6-1. Both Nadal and Federer are also coming off five set marathon matches in the semi-finals to get to the final. Nadal beat Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria and Federer beat his former doubles partner, Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland.
Winter X Games—Women’s Slopestyle Skiing—TSN2—9 a.m. PT—The world’s best slopestyle skiers will be competing at the 2017 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado. Canada will be represented by Kaya Turski of Montreal, the eight-time Winter X Games gold medalist in the discipline. However Turski has not won the event since 2014. Turski is also the gold medalist in women’s slopestyle skiing from the 2013 World Freestyle Skiing Championships in Voss, Norway.
Winter X Games—Men’s Slopestyle Snowboarding—TSN2—11 a.m. PT—Regina’s Mark McMorris is one of the most highly recognizable Canadian winter athletes at the moment, and will be a gold medal contender in the men’s slopestyle snowboarding and the men’s big air snowboarding at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang. The Canadian team in this event is stacked and could sweep the medals. Other Canadian athletes include three-time Winter X Games gold medalist Max Parrot of Cowansville, Quebec, two-time Winter X Games gold medalist Sebastien Toutant of L’Assomption, Quebec, Tyler Nicholson of North Bay, Ontario, who won a World Cup bronze medal in Laax, Switzerland last week and Michael Ciccarelli of Ancaster, Ontario, who won a World Cup gold medal in Stoneham, Quebec in 2015.
NHL All-Star Game—CBC—1 p.m. PT—The National Hockey League’s best players will be coming together in Los Angeles, California. The Vancouver Canucks will be represented by Bo Horvat. Other players who will play in the game who represent Canadian teams include Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames, Patrik Laine of the Winnipeg Jets, Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Shea Weber and Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens and Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators.
NBA—Orlando Magic @ Toronto Raptors—TSN4—3 p.m. PT—The Toronto Raptors are ice cold at the moment and have lost five straight games heading into their game Friday against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Raptors dearly miss all-star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan who is currently out with a sprained ankle. Still, the Raptors are at 28-18 and lead the Boston Celtics by half a game for first place in the Atlantic Division.
Curling—Alberta Women’s Provincial Championship Final—Sportsnet—4 p.m. PT—The best female curlers in Alberta are competing this weekend for the provincial championship in St. Albert, Alberta. To date, an interesting team is undefeated at 3-0. That team is based out of Okotoks and skipped by two-time Scotties Tournament of Hearts champion Heather Nedohin of Sherwood Park. Nedohin took over an Okotoks-based team last week, when their high profile skip, Canadian Olympic bronze medalist Shannon Kleibrink, injured her back and was forced to find a replacement to skip her squad. In came Nedohin and the team is in first place.