Sports·THE BUZZER

What to watch in Olympic sports this weekend

CBC Sports' daily newsletter fills you in on this weekend's key winter Olympic sports events and what's at stake in them.

Canadian curling trials, short track World Cup seasons conclude

Tracy Fleury, the lone undefeated skip at the Canadian curling trials, is one win away from reaching the Olympics. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

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Olympic spots are up for grabs this weekend

Ten weeks from the official opening of the Beijing Games, the winter Olympic sports season has really hit its stride. Here are the key things happening this weekend:

Canada's Olympic men's and women's curling teams will be decided.

Today is the last day of round-robin play at the trials in Saskatoon, and we already know a few things. Tracy Fleury (7-0) has clinched first place in the women's standings and a direct ticket to Sunday's final. She'll face the winner of Saturday's semifinal between Jennifer Jones (5-2) and whoever emerges from the final round-robin draw. It started at 3 p.m. ET (tough timing for us), and reigning Scotties champ Kerri Einarson (4-3) can clinch the final playoff spot with a win over last-place Kelsey Rocque. If Einarson blows this, it gets complicated — there could be as many as four teams tied at 4-4, triggering a Saturday-morning tiebreaker. Defending champion Rachel Homan won't be involved. At 2-5, she's eliminated. Check the live scoreboard here and follow CBC Sports curling reporter Devin Heroux on Twitter for updates.

On the men's side, Brad Gushue and Brad Jacobs are battling for the automatic berth in the final, as expected. They head into the final draw (8 p.m. ET) tied at 6-1 and both guaranteed to advance to the playoffs. Gushue beat Jacobs head to head, so if he defeats Mike McEwen tonight he goes straight to the final. Defending champ Kevin Koe (5-2) has the inside track on the final playoff spot.

The semifinals are Saturday — women's at 3 p.m. ET, men's at 8 p.m. ET. The finals are Sunday — women's at noon ET, men's at 8 p.m. ET. Read more about today's results here. Watch That Curling Show with Devin Heroux and Colleen Jones live each night at 7 p.m. ET on the CBC Sports YouTube channel.

It's the last chance to qualify for the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final.

The way the Grand Prix works is, skaters can enter up to two of the six standard events on the circuit. When they're all over, the top six in each discipline are invited to the Grand Prix Final. Heading into the regular-season finale, which began today in Russia, the only Canadians who had clinched a spot in the Final were ice dancers Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, who are Canada's best hope for a figure skating medal at the Beijing Olympics.

The four Canadian entries in Russia are on the outside looking in. But two of them skated into podium position today. Roman Sadovsky (men's) and Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen (ice dance) both placed third in their opening round. Madeline Schizas was fifth in the women's event, while Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro were seventh in pairs.

Looking beyond the Canadians, this stop is headlined by two sets of Russian reigning world champions — Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov (pairs), and Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov (dance). The women's event is a battle between two Russians: Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, who won silver at the world championships last season, and 15-year-old Kamila Valieva. The latter got a leg up today by posting a world-record score in the short. Read more about today's results and watch highlights here.

The alpine skiing season really gets going in Alberta.

After being wiped off the calendar last year because of the pandemic, Lake Louise is once again hosting the World Cup season's first "speed" races — downhill and super-G, the sport's marquee events. The first of two scheduled men's downhills was cancelled today due to weather. They'll try again tomorrow, followed by a super-G on Sunday.

The women will follow that same schedule next week at Lake Louise. This weekend, they're in Vermont for a giant slalom Saturday and a slalom Sunday. American star Mikaela Shiffrin needs one more slalom victory to match Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark's record for most World Cup wins in a single discipline (he set it in giant slalom). Shiffrin was beaten in back-to-back slaloms last weekend in Finland by Slovakia's Petra Vlhova, who in 2020-21 broke Shiffrin's iron grip on the slalom season title and then captured the overall crown last season. That'll be a fun rivalry to follow at the Olympics. Read about the Canadians to watch at Lake Louise in this story by CBC Sports' Doug Harrison.

Short track speed skating's World Cup season wraps up.

Seems early, but yes, the fourth and final stop on the circuit is taking place in the Netherlands. Canada's Pascal Dion is in position to win the men's 1,000m title. He leads the chase after reaching the podium in each of the first three races. Canada's men's relay team is also in first place following back-to-back victories. On the women's side, Canada's Courtney Sarault ranks fourth in the 1,500 while 2018 triple Olympic medallist Kim Boutin is fourth in the 500.

This World Cup finale is the last chance for Canadian skaters to secure Olympic entries for their country and build their personal case for being selected to compete in Beijing.

The ski and snowboard cross World Cup seasons open on the Beijing Olympic course.

Canada is particularly strong on the ski side, where veteran Brady Leman is the reigning men's Olympic champion and 23-year-old Reece Howden is the defending men's World Cup champ. Kelsey Serwa retired after winning the Olympic women's gold in 2018. The final rounds of the men's and women's events go Saturday at China's Secret Garden resort.

Canada was shut out of the snowboard cross podium at the 2018 Olympics, but a young contender emerged last season. Éliot Grondin was the runner-up in the men's World Cup chase and took bronze at the world championships — all before turning 20. The snowboard cross events at Secret Garden will be decided Sunday.

How to watch:

The curling trials are on TSN. The figure skating, short track, alpine and ski and snowboard cross events are all being streamed live on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem. Those platforms are also carrying this week's bobsleigh, skeleton and luge World Cups. You can also watch many of these sports on the Road to the Olympic Games shows Saturday and Sunday on the CBC TV network. See the full schedule here.

Catching up with Mike McEwen at Olympic trials and looking ahead to Beijing with John Shuster

2 months ago
Duration 38:45
Mike McEwen and John Shuster join That Curling Show to talk Olympics and hosts Devin Heroux and Colleen Jones introduce you to your new favourite thing: the Margarita Curling Club. 38:45

Quickly...

Three Canadian women are up for soccer's most prestigious individual honour. Jessie Fleming, Ashley Lawrence and Christine Sinclair — all of whom helped Canada win Olympic gold last summer in Tokyo — are among the 20 nominees for the women's Ballon d'Or. The award recognizes the best player in the world over the calendar year, as voted on by soccer journalists. It's been around since 1956, though a women's version wasn't added until 2018. The winners will be announced Monday. Read more about the Canadian and top international nominees in this story by CBC Sports' Signa Butler

Either Italy or Portugal will not be playing in the 2022 World Cup. The traditional soccer powers — and winners of the last two European championships — failed to win their qualifying groups, which would have given them a direct ticket to Qatar. Today, they were placed in the same section of the last-chance playoff tournament that will decide Europe's final three qualifiers. So, assuming Italy beats North Macedonia and Portugal gets past Turkey in the semifinals of "Path C," they'll face each other for a spot in the World Cup. Both rounds are single elimination. The semis are on March 24, and the finals on March 29. We also found out today that the do-or-die intercontinental playoff for the team that finishes fourth in Canada's qualifying region will face a team from the Oceania region. There's a good chance that will be New Zealand, which is 70 spots below Canada in the world rankings. That takes some of the pressure off, but the Canadians can avoid the playoff altogether by finishing in the top three. With six matches left, they're in first place. Read more about Canada's potential paths to the World Cup here.

You're up to speed. Have a good weekend.

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