What to watch in Olympic sports this weekend

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A pair of world championships and a near-major golf tournament highlight this weekend’s slate for Canadian athletes on the world stage. Here are the key events:

Curling: Women’s world championship

After defeating Jennifer Jones in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts final last month in Calgary to capture her fourth Canadian championship, Ottawa skip Rachel Homan will try to end a vexing dry spell for her country. Despite being home to most of the planet’s best curlers, Canada has not won a world or Olympic title in any of the mainstream events (women’s, men’s and mixed doubles) in six years.

Homan might be just the one to halt the gold drought. She and Miskew (Homan’s longtime third) won the world title in 2017, and with Fleury and Wilkes now on board the team looked nearly unstoppable at the Scotties. They went 11-0 to boost their record to a sparkling 49-5 this season, and they’re No. 1 in the world rankings.

Homan’s rink will have the support of a partisan crowd in Sydney N.S., which is hosting the women’s worlds for the first time starting Saturday and running through next weekend. But they’ll have to get past the likes of Swiss skip Silvana Tirinzoni, who’s going for her fifth consecutive world title, and 2018 Olympic gold medallist Anna Hasselborg of Sweden.

Short track speed skating: World championships

Several Canadians should contend for the podium in the Netherlands, where sold-out crowds are expected for the medal events on Saturday and Sunday in the cradle of long track skating. There are individual 500m, 1,000m and 1,500m races for both men and women, plus men’s, women’s and mixed relays.

Canadian skaters won 35 medals over the six short track World Cup meets this season. Jordan Pierre-Gilles and William Dandjinou finished atop the men’s 500m and 1,500m standings, respectively, while Steven Dubois was the runner-up in both the 500m and 1,000m. Felix Roussel placed third in the 500m, but he’s been scratched from the worlds after suffering an injury in training yesterday. Pascal Dion was fourth in the 1,500m.

Dubois won a medal of each colour at the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, and he was the top Canadian man at last year’s world championships in Seoul, taking silver in the 500 and bronze in the 1,000.

Canada’s women had a tough World Cup season, with no one cracking the top six in the standings for an individual distance. But the relay team placed third, and Kim Boutin’s return offers some upside. The four-time Olympic medallist skipped the first four meets of the season to focus on her studies before capturing a 500m bronze at last month’s season finale in Poland. Boutin and Courtney Sarault each won a solo and a relay bronze at last year’s worlds.

Watch Saturday’s races live starting at 8:30 a.m. ET and Sunday’s at 9 a.m. ET on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.

Golf: The Players Championship

You might not think of golf as an Olympic sport, but this year it is. Sixty players will qualify for the men’s tournament in Paris in August based on the world rankings on June 17 — the day after the U.S. Open is completed.

Canada is likely to get two spots, and the competition for them is fierce. As many as seven golfers have a shot, led by Nick Taylor (currently ranked 25th), Adam Hadwin (46) and Corey Conners (50).

The bigger the tournament, the more world-rankings points are up for grabs. And they don’t get much bigger than the Players Championship. The “fifth major” offers a larger purse than any of the actual majors ($25 million US total, including $4.5M to the winner) and features all of the world’s top players except for the handful who jumped ship to LIV Golf. A strong finish this weekend at TPC Sawgrass (home of the famous island 17th green) could boost a Canadian’s chances of making the Olympics.

At our publish time, Conners was tied with world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler and others for fourth place at 8-under after shooting back-to-back 68s. Taylor was tied for ninth at 7-under early in his second round. The Canadian Open champion fired a 6-under 66 on Thursday.

Everyone will be trying to catch Wyndham Clark this weekend. The reigning U.S. Open champ opened up a five-shot lead at 14-under with his second straight 65. Here’s an updated leaderboard

Other sports to watch

Snowboard cross: Canada’s Eliot Grondin has owned the men’s World Cup tour this season, reaching the podium in all eight events and winning five gold medals. His lead in the standings is so large that if he just finishes 19th or better in his two races this weekend in Austria, Grondin will clinch his first World Cup title before next week’s season finale in his native Quebec. That’ll pair nicely with his two Olympic medals from 2022.

Alpine skiing: The World Cup finals in Austria begin this weekend with the men’s and women’s slalom and giant slalom season finales, followed by the downhills and super-Gs next week. Swiss star Marco Odermatt has already clinched his third consecutive men’s overall and giant slalom titles and is looking to add the downhill and super-G crystal globes. On the women’s side, Switzerland’s Lara Gut-Behrami is the leader for those same four titles but hasn’t clinched any of them yet. Canada’s best medal hopes at the finals are men’s downhill and super-G specialists Cameron Alexander and Jack Crawford. Watch a finals preview here. Stream all of the races live on CBC Sports’ digital platforms. Here’s the schedule.

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