Canadian athletes: full speed ahead to 2014 

Athletes win four crystal globes, several World Championships

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO - rIddle me This Mike Riddle was one of Canada's World Cup standouts this winter.
  • file photo
  • rIddle me This Mike Riddle was one of Canada's World Cup standouts this winter.

The 2013 World Cup season wrapped up last week, and while the total haul of medals and titles was down slightly compared to 2012, there's also no denying that Canada's future prospects look good.

Vancouver and London both showed how much funding athletes boosts results at the highest level, and on that score Canada has been nothing short of aggressive. In January, the Government of Canada announced a funding boost of $31 million for 11 winter sports organizations in the run-up to the 2014 Games in Sochi, plus another $6.9 million for athletes through Sport Canada's Athlete Assistance Program. That's on top of current funding through Sport Canada and Own the Podium, which contributed $21.7 million to winter sports through the 2012-2013 season.

In Canada, you need to have success to get funding with Own the Podium and others backing sports that have proven medal potential over sports that aren't as developed. As a result the Canadian Freestyle Ski Team got over $2.4 million last season from Own the Podium while Ski Jumping Canada received just $100,000.

Canada has a number of favourites going into 2014. In the overall end-of-season rankings, Canada won four Crystal Globes: mogul skier Mikael Kingsbury won the overall freestyle and moguls globes for the second straight year, Mike Riddle won the men's ski halfpipe globe and Dominique Maltais won the snowboardcross globe.

As well, the women's bobsleigh team of Kaillie Humphries and Chelsea Valois was on the podium at every event last season, winning six races, and had the title in the bag long before the season was even over. On the men's side, the two-man team piloted by Lyndon Rush with various brakemen also ranked first overall.

In ski slopestyle, Kaya Turski continued to dominate on the pro circuit, Dara Howell emerged as a strong medal contender and Pemberton's Yuki Tsubota — in only her second year competing slopestyle — is having a breakout season of all breakout seasons. Coming into the AFP World Championships in Whistler, the three girls are ranked first, second and fifth in the world.

Once again, freestyle was a highlight for Canada, as the team claimed the overall Nations Cup title for the eighth straight year and ninth time in 10 years. In addition to Kingsbury's two Crystal Globes, Alex Bilodeau — the current Olympic champion — caught fire at the end of the season and won the last two contests. In women's moguls, the U.S. team is dominating right now and Japan had its best season, but Canada has four strong prospects with the team that are capable of making the podium — sisters Chloe and Justine Dufour-Lapointe and Audrey Robichaud combined for eight medals.

Aerialist Oliver Rochon struggled the first part of his season, won a bronze medal and then was injured, but Travis Gerrits picked up where he left off and picked up two silver medals this season.

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