What to watch in Olympic sports this weekend

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One of Canada’s world-title droughts ended last night. Another could go down on Sunday. And Canadians can sweep the World Cup trophies in one of winter’s most dangerous sports. Here’s what to know for an exciting weekend of Olympic sports:

After a great night in Montreal, another Canadian duo goes for gold at the figure skating world championships.

Last night at the Bell Centre, the pairs team of Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps capped off the performance of their lives with an historic victory in front of an enraptured crowd in the city where they live and train.

The Canadian duo built a healthy lead on Wednesday with a personal-best short program, then nailed down their first world title with another PB in the free skate to dethrone Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara. The defending champs took the silver while Germany’s Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nikita Volodin claimed bronze in their first worlds together.

Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps are Canada’s first figure-skating world champions since 2018, and the first Canadians to win the pairs world title since Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford went back-to-back a couple of years before that. Stellato-Dudek, 40, is the oldest woman to win a world title in the history of the sport. “40 is the new 20,” she said. “It’s something I carry with pride.”

Her journey to the top was a long one. As a 16-year-old in 2000, the Chicago native won a singles silver for the United States at the world junior championships. But a chronic hip injury forced her to retire before her 18th birthday. After a decade and a half away from the sport, she came back as a pairs skater without much success before moving to Montreal in 2019 to team up with Deschamps, who’d cycled through eight different partners before her.

WATCH | Stellato-Dudek, Deschamps claim historic victory at worlds in Montreal:

Canada’s Stellato-Dudek, Deschamps capture historic pairs figure skating world title

Canada’s Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps win gold in the pairs competition at the World Figure Skating Championships in Montreal. The 40-year-old Stellato-Dudek becomes the oldest woman to claim a world title.

The new pairing really clicked last season, winning their first Canadian title and their first gold on the Grand Prix tour. They also placed fourth at the prestigious Grand Prix Final and fourth again in their world-championships debut. This season, they took it up a notch, winning two Grand Prix events and a bronze at the Final before repeating as Canadian champs and winning gold at the Four Continents Championships (for non-Europeans). Now they’re world champs. “This is really a dream come true,” Stellato-Dudek said.

Now she’s eyeing an even bigger prize: Olympic gold. But the clock is ticking. Not only will Stellato-Dudek be 42 by the time the 2026 Winter Games in northern Italy roll around, she’ll also need to get Canadian citizenship. Residency is enough to represent a country in most international events, but the Olympics require a matching passport. Stellato-Dudek says she’s confident she’ll land one in time.

Today in Montreal, Canadian ice dancers Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier are looking to follow Stellato-Dudek and Deschamps’ lead by winning their first world title too. Like the pairs team, Gilles and Poirier earned two victories on the Grand Prix circuit this season before taking bronze at the Final and gold at the Four Continents. They won their second world-championships bronze in three years last March in Japan, where they were Canada’s only medallist. Gilles had surgery for ovarian cancer just two months earlier.

The opening stage of the ice dance event wraps up late this afternoon. The medals will be decided in Saturday’s free program, starting at 1:30 p.m. ET. The leaders take the ice last in the field of 24 qualifiers.

WATCH | Gilles, Poirier look back on worlds experience:

Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier reflect on memorable moments at worlds

Take a peek at the duo’s world championship look-book and the time they first met Toller Cranston.

The women’s free skate is tonight at 6 p.m. ET. Japanese star Kaori Sakamoto’s bid for her third straight world title is in danger after she placed fourth in the short program. European champ Loena Hendrickx of Belgium is the leader. Madeline Schizas, the lone Canadian, sits 17th.

The men’s free goes Saturday at 6 p.m. ET. Japan’s Shoma Uno topped yesterday’s free skate, putting him in position for a three-peat. But his American rival Ilia Malinin is close behind in third, and the Quad God’s arsenal of jumps can generate dizzying scores at any time. The top Canadian is Roman Sadovsky in 11th.

You can watch every skate at the world championships live on CBC Gem, CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app. Those platforms will also carry the closing gala on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET. The CBC TV network’s coverage continues tonight at 8 p.m. ET and Saturday at 3 p.m. ET.

Rachel Homan’s team can end the great Canadian curling drought.

The Ottawa skip and her teammates Tracy Fleury, Emma Miskew and Sarah Wilkes clinched the top playoff seed at the women’s world championship in Sydney, N.S., with an 8-2 drubbing of Scotland this afternoon. The Canadians’ 27th consecutive victory ran their record in the tournament to 11-0 heading into their round-robin finale tonight vs. playoff-bound South Korea.

Canada gets a bye to Saturday night’s semifinals along with whoever finishes second in the round robin. Defending champion Switzerland, Italy and the South Koreans (all 9-2) are in contention for that spot. Sweden (7-4) and Denmark (6-6) round out the six-team playoffs, which start Saturday morning. The gold- and bronze-medal games are on Sunday.

Homan, a four-time Canadian champion who won gold at the worlds in 2017, silver in ’14 and bronze in ’13, is trying to capture Canada’s first major curling world title in six years — a maddening drought considering the country is home to most of the sport’s best players. To do so, she’ll have to end the reign of Swiss skip Silvana Tirinzoni, who’s gunning for her fifth straight world title. Here’s the latest on today’s results.

Canadians can pull off a near-sweep of the ski and snowboard cross World Cup titles.

Today in Sweden, Canada’s Brittany Phelan and India Sherret won gold and silver in the penultimate women’s ski cross World Cup competition of the season. Canada’s Marielle Thompson placed fifth to maintain her lead in the standings after winning five of the previous seven events. The former Olympic and world champion will try to secure her fourth World Cup title in the season finale on Saturday at 7 a.m. ET. Phelan ranks third in the season-long points chase, Canadian Hannah Schmidt is fourth and Sherret is sixth.

Canada’s Reece Howden still has a chance to win his third men’s World Cup crown in four years after taking bronze today. He trails Sweden’s David Mobaerg, who won the race, and Switzerland’s Alex Fiva heading into Saturday’s finale.

Ski cross is the sport where athletes race elimination-style in heats of four down courses featuring a treacherous array of twists, turns, rollers and jumps. High-speed wipeouts are pretty commonplace.

Ski cross’ not-quite-identical twin is snowboard cross. Last week, Canada’s Eliot Grondin clinched his first World Cup title in Austria despite missing the podium for the first time in nine events this season, a run that included five gold medals. On Saturday and Sunday at noon ET, the double Olympic medallist will try to cap the season with another win or two at Mont-Sainte-Anne in his home province of Quebec. No other Canadian men or women are in the top 16 of the World Cup standings.

Watch all of this weekend’s ski and snowboard cross season finales live on CBC Sports’ digital platforms.

Also this weekend:

* The alpine skiing World Cup season wraps up with the final women’s and men’s downhills on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Today in Austria, Switzerland’s Lara Gut-Behrami and Marco Odermatt added the season-long super-G titles to the overall and giant slalom championships they’d already clinched. This weekend, they can add the downhill Crystal Globes by protecting their leads in the standings. No Canadians are in contention for either title, but Cameron Alexander and Jack Crawford are capable of winning medals for the final race.

* The Para alpine World Cup finals are happening in Italy, where Canada’s Kalle Ericsson and his guide Sierra Smith won slalom gold today in the men’s visually impaired category. It was their second win of the season and sixth medal.

* The bobsleigh World Cup season concludes in Lake Placid, N.Y., with the two-woman and four-man events on Saturday. Today, Cynthia Appiah took bronze in the women’s monobob for Canada’s first medal in any bobsleigh event this season. Mirela Rahneva won a gold and a bronze on the concurrent skeleton World Cup tour before sitting out yesterday’s finale. She finished 12th in the standings — one spot behind 19-year-old Canadian Hallie Clarke, who last month became the youngest person ever to win gold at the skeleton world championships.

You can watch the bobsleigh and alpine season finales live on CBC Sports’ digital platforms. For start times and other streams available this weekend, see the full schedule.

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