Sports·Canadian Trail

Taylor Henrich makes ski jumping history

Taylor Henrich of Calgary became the first Canadian woman to claim a World Cup ski jumping medal with a third-place finish Sunday at Oberstdorf, Germany, while Regina's Mark McMorris made his mark again, winning the X games slopestyle crown.

Mark McMorris adds 2nd X games title

Taylor Hendrich became the first Canadian woman to land on a World Cup ski jumping podium by finishing third in Oberstdorf, Germany on Sunday. (Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

Taylor Henrich of Calgary became the first Canadian woman to claim a World Cup ski jumping medal with a third-place finish Sunday at Oberstdorf, Germany, while Regina's Mark McMorris made his mark again, winning the X Games slopestyle crown.

Those were the top stories Sunday on our Canadian Trail marking the achievements of this country's hihg-performance athletes on the world stage.

Henrich builds to bronze

Henrich began her ascent earlier this season with a pair of medal finishes in Continental Cup competition in Falun, Sweden. Then, on Friday, Henrich became the first Canadian woman to win a World Cup qualification round.

On Saturday, in the first of two World Cup events, she was fifth. Sunday, she made her break-through.

McMorris on the mark in Aspen

McMorris is much more used to winning at the highest levels. At 21, he's already a Winter X Games legend. He opened his long weekend in Colorado with gold in the big air event and added another gold medal in Sunday's slopestyle snowboard event.

McMorris was fourth after the opening round but came through with flying colours in round two by scoring 96 points. That huge score was enough to give him yet another X Games title. Sebastien Toutant (aka Seb Touts) would end up in fourth place.

Fourth place was the result for Spencer O'Brien in the women's slopestyle competition.

D'Artois has perfect performance

Whistler native Simon d'Artois earned Canada's first X Games gold medal in the men's ski superpipe event. In his second X Games appearance, the 22-year-old scored 93.00 points in his third run for the victory.

This result was an incredible improvement on his 14th-place finish in last year's Winter X Games. D'Artois qualified for the 2015 finals in fourth place, so Sunday's runs far exceeded his expectations. 

McKeever defends Sochi gold

In his first appearance since sweeping the Paralympic cross-country events in Sochi, Brian McKeever earned another gold medal on the international stage.

The 35-year-old took the 20-kilometre visually impaired race at the IPC Nordic World Championships in Cable, Wisconsin, edging out his competition by two seconds. 

Here's a rundown of other results on the Canadian Trail, beginning with Sunday's events:

Fifth place was the best Canadian result at the freestyle ski and snowboard world championships in Kreischberg, Austria. Brady Leman won the ski cross small final to finish fifth overall.

  • Marielle Thompson qualified for the small final as well but did not race because of injury to claim eighth place.
  • Four Canadian men raced in the World Cup cross country event in Rybinsk, Russia. Alex Harvey of St. Ferreol, Que. made the top 10 with a ninth place showing, followed by Banff's Ivan Babikov, in 19th. Sudbury's Devon Kershaw was 34th, while Graeme Killick, was 40th.
  • In biathlon relay races in Antholz, Italy, Christian Gow, Brendan Green, Scott Gow and Nathan Smith combined for a ninth place finish for Canada. For the women, Megan Heinicke, Julia ransom, Rosanna Crawford and Audrey Vaillancourt produced a 10th place result.

Sharpe again Saturday at Kreischberg

Thanks big sister, I'll take over in the spotlight.

That may have been the sentiment expressed by Darcy Sharpe, 19, of Comox, B.C. who won a snowboard big air silver medal Saturday at the freestyle and snowboard world championships in Kreischberg, Austria, two days after his sister Cassie, 22, won silver in freestyle ski slopestyle.

Darcy made his world championship debut Wednesday in the snowboard slopestyle event and just missed the podium, finishing fourth. He narrowly missed gold Saturday in the big air when he was surpassed by the final attempt by Roope Tonteri of Finland. 

Here's the story on the big air competition which had a women's division for the first time in world championship history.

The Canadian National Skating Championships were underway this weekend in Kingston, Ont. On Saturday, Nam Nguyen of Toronto won his first Canadian senior men's figure skating championship beating Jeremy Ten of Vancouver who claimed the silver.

Gabrielle Daleman of Newmarket, Ont., won her first senior women's title. The 17-year-old Daleman had a near-flawless performance to win gold with 186.02 points.

Meagn Duhamel and Eric Radford finished first in the senior pair's competition with a score of 230.19 points. They blew away the competition, with the second place team of Lubov Ilyushechkina and Dylan Moscvitch finishing way behind with 187.85 points.

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje won the senior dance competition finishing ahead of Piper Giles and Paul Poirer. Weaver and Poje finished with 187.88 points.

Olympic gold medallist Dara Howell of Huntsville, Ont., won bronze in slopestyle skiing at the Winter X Games on Saturday. Alex Bellemare of Saint-Boniface, Que., took bronze on the men's side.

In the ski big air, Vincent Gagnier of Victoriaville, Que., won gold with a combined top score of 91 points. Gagnier scored 47 points on his best run and 44 in his second best.

Among other Canadians competing on the international stage, Calgary's Taylor Henrich, who became the first Canadian to win the qualification round at a World Cup ski jumping event, finished a strong fifth Saturday in Oberstdorf, Germany, only 10 points back of a bronze medal position.

Henrich, 19, has another World Cup jumping competition on Sunday, which will be streamed live at at 10 a.m. Eastern.

In bobsled, Kaillie Humphries and her brakeman Melissa Lotholz, both of Calgary, were 7th in their race in St. Moritz.

  • Chris Spring, Calgary & Alexander Kopacz, London, Ont. 17th
  • Justin Kripps, Summerland, B.C. & Bryan Barnett, Edmonton, 19th

​In another sliding sport, Canada;s fortunes did not improve in Winterberg, Germany where a World Cup luge men's singles race was held. Calgary's Sam Edney was a disappointing 14th in Saturday's race. Canada's men's team did not compete earlier because of a training injury suffered by Justin Snith, who hurt his foot while trainng in the gym. Another member of the team Mitch Malyk returned to Canada after coming down with mononucleosis.

On the slopes, here are the Canadian alpine results from Saturday:

  • Ben Thomsen, Invermere, BC, 17th in the downhill at Kitzbuhel
  • Larisa Yurkiw, Owen Sound, Ont,, 19th in the downhill at St. Moritz
  • ​Marie-Michele Gagnon, Lac Etchemin, Que, 44th
  • Valerie Grenier, Quebec City, 52nd

World Cup cross country skiing took place in Rybinsk, Russia with freestyle sprint races. Alex Harvey of St. Ferreol, Que. was the only Canadian to qualify for the top 30 and placed 28th.

Productive Friday for Canada

Friday was a super day for Canada on the winter scene with five medals, including four from the X Games in Aspen, Colorado. Both Mark McMorris of Regina and Kevin Hill of Vernon, B.C. captured gold medals at the X Games in the Big Air and snowboard cross events, respectively.

McMorris, a bronze medallist in Sochi last February, was also the top qualifier for Sunday's slopestyle final, along with Sebastien Toutant of Montreal who qualified fourth. Read about McMorris's Friday win here

Hill won his Friday snowboard cross, sliding away from the field, right out of the starting gate.

Also Friday, Dominique Maltais of Petite-Riviere-St-Francois, Que., a two-time Olympic medallist, picked up a silver in the women's snowboard cross behind Lindsay Jacobellis of the U.S.

Alex Massie of Barrie, Ont. won a bronze medal in the adaptive snowboard for riders with a disability. Arnprior, Ont.'s John Leslie was right behind Massie in fourth place,

In World Cup skeleton at St. Moritz, Switzerland, Calgary's Elisabeth Vathje, added her third medal of her rookie season, at the birthplace of the sliding sport. Vathje slid to second place behind Austria's Janine Flock. It was the 20-year-old's second silver of the year to go along with her first victory in Canada earlier this season.

With files from Matt Ingram, Amy Cleveland