LAKE PLACID, NEW YORK – It was a watershed day for Canadian athletes on Day 4 of the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games, with Canada claiming three medals, the first international medals for each athlete.
Calgary Dinos student-athlete Laura Hall skated to the gold medal in the women’s 3000m speed skating, breaking the Lake Placid track record set at the 1980 Olympics by Norwegian skater Bjorg Eva Jensen.
Joining her on the podium was fellow Canadian and Universite Laval student-athlete Rose-Anne Grenier, who finished third.
“I knew we could do it,” Grenier said of standing on the podium with a fellow Canadian. “To actually experience it is amazing.”
Meanwhile, on the slopes of Gore Mountain, another University of Calgary athlete stepped onto the podium as Liz Filitrault captured the bronze medal in the women’s ski cross, her first international medal and Canada’s first-ever in the FISU ski cross.
Filitrault charged from the back to get onto the podium in ski cross, taking advantage of athlete injuries that narrowed the women’s field down to a final four, where she beat out Czechia’s Klara Kasparova for the bronze medal in the big final.
Her teammate and medal favourite Kiersten Vincett, who also had qualified for the semifinal, pulled out due to discomfort in her leg but was part of a passionate crowd of teammates that cheers Filtrault on to the bronze medal
“It’s been a tough week for us Canadian girls, Filiatrault said moments after the celebration. “I could feel the Czech [Klara Kasparova] right there [in the final], but I was like, ‘I can’t lose this; I can’t let her get this from me.”
On the men’s side of ski cross, Calgary’s Charlie Lang qualified for the small final before finishing eighth, while fellow Dino Jack Morrow failed to qualify for the knockout stages from the round robin.
With five medals on the end of Day 4, the Canadian team has ties with Kransoyarsk 2019 and Grenada 2015 for the most medals at a Games with five, while also making Lake Placid 2023 the sixth time Canada has claimed multiple gold medals, the last time being hockey double gold at Trentina 2013.
Men’s curling heats up, women on the brink
Team Owen Purcell needed sharp shots but found their way to their most impressive day yet, defeating Sweden 6-5 to move to 4-1 in pool play, one game back of the top spot, currently held by Team GB at 5-0.
Purcell brought his best with the game locked at 4-4 in the seventh end, executing a perfect hit and roll freeze to ensure the Swedes only drew a point. In the final end, Team Purcell attempted and hit a long angle-raise double-takeout to sit two and win the game.
“We had a hard time figuring out exactly what we wanted to do there because these guys are such good hitters that you have to make sure when you’re setting up angles you have everything in the right spots,” Purcell said to Curling Canada.
“We put the broom where we thought we needed to hit it, threw it good, and the guys were sweeping well. Jeff called the line good, and we made a beauty, which made Sweden have a tough one on its last.”
After opening the tournament with a loss to Switzerland, Team Owen Purcell of Dalhousie University is heating up, approaching the end of pool play with a playoff spot and a chance to play for a medal within their sights.
It’s a double game day on Tuesday for Team Owen Purcell, facing South Korea at 9:00 am ET and Norway at 7:00 pm ET, two of the stronger teams in the FISU men’s curling competition.
Meanwhile, Canada’s women’s curling team of Team Abby Marks continued to struggle, falling 7-4 to China after a brighter start and ending the day with a 6-2 loss to Sweden. As a result, the University of Alberta Pandas team will be hard-pressed to advance now, needing to win their remaining games and hope for some help from teams ahead of them.
Looking to quickly turn things around, Tem Abby Marks faces Australia at 2:00 pm ET in their only game on Tuesday.
Timmerman leads Canadian alpine combined finishers
Claire Timmerman continued her strong FISU Games on Sunday and Monday with a Canadian best result of 13th in the alpine combined, the event combining the times of a super-G run and a slalom run.
The University of Utah skier finished Sunday’s super-G in the 15th spot, 1.85 seconds behind Spanish leader Celia Abad, before improving her ranking with the slalom on Monday. Abad continued her strong performance to take the gold medal after also reaching the podium in the standalone super-G.
Gabrielle Fafard of Laval University did not finish the alpine combined, leaving Timmerman as the only Canadian woman to post a result.
On the men’s side, University of Alaska Anchorage skier Caeden Carruthers saw his ranking dip after posting 10th place in the super-G before finishing 19th overall after the slalom, with a skill set that is more speed focused.
Rising up the rankings was St. Lawrence’s Aiden Marler, who brought familiarity with the slope to his advantage to sneak ahead of Carruthers in 18th place.
While four Canadian men started the multi-day alpine combined, neither University of Montana skier Dawson Yates nor Pierre-Elliot Poitras of the Montreal Carabins finished both runs.
Jan Zabystran of Czechia picked up the combined bronze medal after winning the super-G, while Spain’s Albert Ortega took combined gold, complimenting Abad’s gold for the Spanish sweep.
However, the alpine events are far from over at Whiteface Mountain, with the women’s GS set for Tuesday, followed by the men’s GS, mixed team event and slalom to round off the FISU Games.
Rousseau can’t replicate in biathlon
After winning gold in the women’s 12.5km to start the Games, uOttawa nordic skier Shilo Rousseau had big expectations to deliver in the single mixed relay, yet couldn’t crack the podium alongside Will Moineau.
The Canadian pair used 14 spares and completed two penalty loops through 18 rounds of shooting, effectively putting themselves out of medal contention. Still, medal opportunities remain in biathlon, with the men’s 10km sprint and women’s 7.5k sprint set for Wednesday before the competition wraps up on Saturday.
It’s a big Tuesday for Canadians as they look to continue the success on the long track, stay alive in women’s curling, and clinch top spots in both men’s and women’s hockey.
Fans can catch Tuesday’s speed skating at 10:00 am ET on TSN5, while the remaining events outside of curling can be streamed for free on FISU TV, with coverage following on 49-sport.com