The 2017 World Speed Skating Championships from Gangneung, South Korea will be my primary focus this weekend. The event can be seen online at www.cbcsports.ca. On Saturday, the four events that will take place are the men’s and women’s 1000 metres as well as the women’s 5000 metres and men’s 10000 metres. On Sunday, it will be the mass start competitions for men and women as well as the men’s and women’s 1500 metres. The competitions start at 12:30 a.m. PT on Saturday and 1 a.m. PT on Sunday.
Canada will be represented by Ivanie Blondin of Ottawa in the women’s mass start and Ted-Jan Bloemen of Calgary in the men’s 10 000 metres. At the 2016 World Speed Skating Championships in Kolomna, Russia, Blondin won the gold medal and Bloemen won the silver medal. Another Canadian to watch out for is Vincent De Haitre of Ottawa, Ontario who won a men’s 1000 metre World Cup event in Astana, Kazakhstan on December 3 and is third in the World Cup rankings.
In a footnote, I am still steamed and livid that the World Alpine Skiing Championships from St. Moritz, Switzerland are not being shown by any Canadian media source. On Wednesday it was one of the greatest days in the history of Canadian skiing. Erik Guay of Montreal won the gold medal and Manuel Osborne-Paradis of Vancouver won the bronze medal in the men’s super giant slalom from Innsbruck, Austria. It was the first time ever that two Canadians landed on the same podium at the World Alpine Skiing Championships, and no Canadian in Canada saw it because the Canadian sports networks simply failed Canadians! This is why we need an amateur sports network ASAP!
Here are the other events I will be watching this weekend.
Saturday—World Cup Big Air Snowboarding—www.cbcsports.ca—2 p.m. PT–The final stop of the 2016-17 International Ski Federation Big Air Snowboarding Super Series takes place this weekend on Canadian soil, specifically Quebec City. Canada will be represented by Mark McMorris of Regina, Saskatchewan, Maxence Parrot of Cowansville, Quebec and Tyler Nicholson of North Bay, Ontario. Earlier this year, McMorris and Parrot finished first and second in a World Cup in Alpensia, South Korea.
Saturday—NHL—Tampa Bay Lightning @ Winnipeg Jets—Sportsnet—4 p.m. PT—Two teams on the outside of a playoff spot at the moment battle in southern Manitoba. The Lightning are six points back of the Boston Bruins and the Jets are six points back of the Nashville Predators. The Lightning are led by Nikita Kucherov, who has 49 points (21 goals and 28 assists) in 47 games. The Jets are led by Mark Scheifele, who has 25 goals and 28 assists for 53 points in 53 games.
Saturday—NHL—Chicago Blackhawks @ Edmonton Oilers—CBC—7 p.m. PT—The Edmonton Oilers will be playing their first National Hockey League game since Super Bowl Sunday when they beat the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 in a shootout on a goal by Leon Draisaitl. The Blackhawks will be playing their second game of a back-to-back as they are in Winnipeg on Friday.
Sunday—World Cup Slopestyle Snowboarding—www.cbcsports.ca—7 a.m. PT—The best World Cup slopestyle snowboarders compete this weekend in Quebec City. Parrot is currently sixth and McMorris is currently eighth in the World Cup standings. On January 20, Parrot, McMorris and Nicholson swept the podium in Laax, Switzerland. Canada’s top female slopestyle snowboarder is Laurie Blouin of Stoneham, Quebec. Blouin won a World Cup silver in women’s slopestyle snowboarding in Seiser Alm, Italy on January 27 and is currently ranked fifth in the World Cup standings.
Sunday—World Cup Slopestyle Skiing—www.cbcsports.ca—10 a.m. PT—Canada will be strongly represented in the men’s World Cup slopestyle skiing competition in Quebec City this weekend. Of the 16 athletes participating, there are five Canadians. They are Teal Harle of Mount Washington, British Columbia, Mark Hendrickson of Calgary, Evan McEachran of Toronto, Alex Bellemare of St-Boniface, Quebec and Alex Beaulieu-Marchand of Quebec City.
Sunday—NBA—Detroit Pistons @ Toronto Raptors—TSN—3 p.m. PT—The big question for Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujuri is what to do before the NBA Trade Deadline on February 23. The Raptors identity is that they are a two-man team with a below average supporting cast. There is no doubt that Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are the Toronto Raptors but will need some help to get by the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics in the playoffs.
Sunday—Curling—Boston Pizza Cup Final—Sportsnet—4 p.m. PT—The best men’s curlers from Alberta will be playing against each other in Westlock. The top two Alberta teams are skipped by Brendan Bottcher of Edmonton and Charley Thomas of Calgary. Bottcher is coached by the legendary Kevin Martin, and has Kevin’s son Karrick as his lead. Thomas meanwhile has Craig Savill as his lead. Savill missed most of last season with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He won two World Men’s Curling Championships with Glenn Howard in 2007 and 2012. In an interesting story, Bottcher no longer has Pat Simmons as his third. Bottcher and Simmons parted ways in January.
Sunday—NHL—Montreal Canadiens @ Boston Bruins—Sportsnet—4:30 p.m. PT—The Atlantic Division leading Montreal Canadiens will be traveling to Boston on Sunday to take on the Bruins. Montreal is at 31-17-8 and will face a Bruins team that is 27-23-6. The Bruins made headlines this week when they fired head coach Claude Julien and replaced him with Bruce Cassidy, who has prior head coaching experience with the Washington Capitals.