Ten Canadians to watch at the Sochi Olympics

February 5, 2013, 12:06 PM

THE CANADIAN PRESS

It seems like only yesterday that Vancouver was in the spotlight as the host city of the Winter Olympics. The focus has shifted to the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia. Now that we’re one year away, here are 10 Canadian athletes to watch:

Kaillie Humphries — Her resume is loaded and she’ll be a good bet to reach the top of the podium again in women’s bobsled. Humphries has dominated the World Cup circuit over the last year and successfully defended her title at the recent world championships. What’s unclear is who will join her in the sled in Sochi. Will current brakewoman Chelsea Valois get the job or will Humphries reunite with Heather Moyse, who pushed her to gold in Vancouver?

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Mark McMorris — The 19-year-old snowboarder has been a dominant force in the slopestyle discipline, which will be making its Olympic debut in Sochi. He successfully defended his slopestyle title at the X Games last month. McMorris has no fear on the slopes and has shown he’s not intimidated by snowboarding icon Shaun White. Their budding rivalry may just climax at the Winter Games.

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Sidney Crosby — If NHL players participate at the Olympics, you can count on Crosby being the anchor of the Canadian team. He scored the Golden Goal in Canada’s overtime win over the United States at the 2010 Games in Vancouver. Crosby is just 25 and in his prime. He just needs to stay healthy. The Pittsburgh Penguins superstar has been hampered by concussion and neck issues the last two seasons.

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Kaetlyn Osmond — Patrick Chan and ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are expected to lead a strong Canadian figure skating team into Sochi. But Osmond is a good bet to make her Olympic breakthrough in Russia. The 17-year-old skater isn’t afraid of the big stage. She upset a strong field at Skate Canada International in October in her first-ever Grand Prix appearance. Osmond followed it up with her first Canadian women’s title last month.

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Christine Nesbitt — The long-track speedskater has picked up where she left off after a tremendous 2011-’12 season. Nesbitt won gold in the 1,000 metres at the world sprint championships last month and has been a regular on the World Cup podium for years. She also thrives in the Olympic spotlight. Nesbitt won silver in the team pursuit at the 2006 Games in Turin and took the gold in the 1,000 at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.

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Rosalind Groenewoud — The freestyle skier from Calgary is expected to lead Canadian hopes in the women’s halfpipe competition, another debut event at the Sochi Games. She took an interest in moguls as a youngster before making the transition to freestyle. Now Groenewoud is the reigning world champion. She also won the X Games title last year.

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Mikael Kingsbury — Kingsbury has been a force on the World Cup moguls circuit. He reached the podium at 19 straight events before his ski popped off in a quarter-final last weekend in Utah. The defending World Cup champion gives Canada an impressive 1-2 punch with Alex Bilodeau, who won Canada’s first gold medal at the Vancouver Games. Kingsbury was named FIS rookie of the year in 2010 and won the Crystal Globe last year.

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Kelsey Serwa — Canada’s Ashleigh McIvor put skicross on the map by winning gold in the sport’s debut at the 2010 Vancouver Games. Serwa just missed the podium that year but is a good bet to pick up some hardware in Sochi. With McIvor now retired, Serwa is the anchor of the Canadian women’s skicross team and has shown that she’s back in form after a knee injury. Serwa is currently third in the overall standings.

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Devon Kershaw — After a near-miss in 2010, Kershaw is poised to reach the Olympic podium in Sochi. He was fifth in the men’s classical 50-kilometre race in Vancouver, finishing just 1.6 seconds behind gold medallist Petter Northug of Norway. Kershaw, a two-time Olympian, finished second overall on the World Cup circuit last year and was fourth at the 2012 Tour de Ski.

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Charles Hamelin — The veteran speedskater is not only a threat to reach the short-track podium on his own, he’ll be a key cog in the men’s relay event as well. The Sochi ice agrees with him. Hamelin won back-to-back gold medals at last week’s World Cup stop in the 2014 Olympic host city. He also won gold in the 500 metres and men’s relay at the Vancouver Games.

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