Sports·THE BUZZER

What to watch in Olympic sports this weekend

CBC Sports' daily newsletters previews a very March mixture of winter and summer events that includes world championships in curling and track and field.

Winter meets summer as curling, track and field worlds collide

A casual-looking Damian Warner competes in the shot put leg of the heptathlon event at the world indoor track and field championships in Belgrade. (Maja Hitij/Getty Images for World Athletics))

This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, which is CBC Sports' daily email newsletter. Stay up to speed on what's happening in sports by subscribing here.

Winter meets summer this weekend

March is a weird month. Is it spring? Is it winter? Is it nice? Is it nasty? Depends on the day. Pro sports are a mixed bag this time of year too. While the boys of summer go through spring training, the end of winter brings the dog days of the hockey and basketball seasons. 

Olympic sports are also a strange brew right now. As skiing and snowboarding seasons wrap up this weekend, there are world championships happening in both curling and track and field, somehow. Here's a quick guide to what's going on:

Track and field: World indoor championships

This quirky meet tends to fly under the radar, but this year's edition in Belgrade is a prelude to an interesting outdoor season that will feature the world championships in Oregon in July. It's also a warmup for the Diamond League season, which starts in mid-May in Doha.

Canada's headliner at the three-day world indoors is Damian Warner. The Olympic decathlon champion led the seven-event heptathlon after winning today's 60m dash and long jump legs and placing fourth in the shot put. The high jump was still in progress at our publish time. Warner will try to nail down his first world indoor title when the heptathlon concludes Saturday with the 60m hurdles, pole vault and 1,000m.

None of the other three Canadians who won an individual track and field medal at last summer's Olympics — sprinter Andre De Grasse, distance runner Moh Ahmed and race walker Evan Dunfee — are competing in Belgrade. Gabriela DeBues-Stafford, who finished fifth in the women's 1,500m in Tokyo, placed fourth in the 3,000m today. Marco Arop, who won two Diamond League 800m races last season and competed in his first Olympics, will run in the 800 final on Saturday at 2:15 p.m. ET.

An interesting showdown looms in the men's 60m, between Olympic 100m champion Lamont Marcell Jacobs of Italy and 100m world champ Christian Coleman of the United States, who was banned from the Tokyo Olympics for missing multiple drug tests. Assuming they survive the heats and semifinals, Jacobs and Coleman will battle in the final Saturday at 4:20 p.m. ET.

Watch a preview of the world indoors here. Read more about Warner and the other notable Canadians competing here. Watch CBC Sports' live streams of every event here

Curling: Women's world championship

The era of Canadian curlers dominating the rest of the world is over. Another reminder of that came at the Beijing Winter Olympics, where a bronze by Brad Gushue's men's team was all Canada had to show for three events. In the last six Olympic curling tournaments, Canadians have won just two medals — and no golds in the four-person events. The world championships have been rough too. Canada hasn't won a men's title since 2017, a women's since '18, and it missed the podium altogether in both tournaments last year in the Calgary bubble.

Kerri Einarson's team will try to put Canada back on top when the women's worlds open Saturday in Prince George, B.C. The winners of three consecutive Scotties titles lost in the first playoff round at last year's worlds and didn't get to compete in 2020 because the event was cancelled due to the pandemic. Their competition includes Switzerland's Silvana Tirinzoni, who's going for her third straight world title, and Sweden's Anna Hasselborg, who won Olympic gold in 2018 and bronze this year. Beijing Olympic champion Eve Muirhead is not competing because the Scottish national championships were held too close to the Olympics for her to make it. Read a preview of the women's worlds here

Meanwhile, it's free agency season in curling as players shuffle in and out of lineups with an eye toward the next Olympics. Jennifer Jones made the boldest move, breaking up the squad she competed with in Beijing to join Mackenzie Zacharias' 2020 world junior champion rink. Jones, 47, will now skip a group of players who are all less than half her age. High-end Canadian teams skipped by Tracy Fleury, Kevin Koe and Brad Jacobs also announced breakups. Read more about the changes here

Skiing and snowboarding: season finales

Mikael Kingsbury won the final World Cup men's moguls event today in France to capture the season-long title for the 10th time in 11 years. The Beijing Olympic silver medallist will finish out with the dual moguls competition on Saturday.

The alpine skiing season is also ending this weekend with the men's and women's slalom and giant slalom races at the World Cup finals in France. American Mikaela Shiffrin has already clinched her fourth women's overall title. Her boyfriend, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde of Norway, wrapped up the men's downhill and super-G season titles earlier this week, while Switzerland's Marco Odermatt secured his first men's overall crown.

CBC Sports' live streams this weekend include the alpine, moguls and ski and snowboard cross season finales. See the full schedule here. This weekend's Road to the Olympic Games shows on the CBC TV network feature skiing, snowboarding and the indoor track and field worlds. Watch them Saturday from 1-6 p.m. ET and Sunday from 2-5 p.m. in your local time.

WATCH l Previewing the world indoor athletics championships:

Previewing the 2022 World Indoor Championships | The Breakdown

9 months ago
Duration 5:32
Bring It In's Morgan Campbell joins Jacqueline Doorey to preview the biggest storylines heading into the 2022 World Indoor Championships in Belgrade.

Quickly...

Alphonso Davies appears likely to miss Canada's World Cup qualifiers next week. Bayern Munich manager Julian Nagelsmann said today that the Canadian star, who's recovering from a mild heart condition following a bout of COVID, "probably will be back in about three to four weeks." That would rule Davies out for Canada's final three matches in regional World Cup qualifying: on Thursday in Honduras, March 27 in Toronto vs. Jamaica, and March 30 in Panama. With Canada on the verge of securing its first men's World Cup berth since 1986, losing its best player for this stretch is obviously not good. But the team won all three of its matches without Davies in the previous window, so it can probably finish the job without him. Read more about Davies' status here

Canada's head swimming coach is out. Ben Titley, who guided Canadian swimmers to 12 medals over the last two Olympics, has parted ways with the program after 10 years. In addition to his Olympic role, the Englishman was head coach of Swimming Canada's high-performance centre in Toronto, where he worked with seven-time Olympic medallist Penny Oleksiak and Kylie Masse, who has won four Olympic medals and a pair of world titles since 2016. Tokyo Olympic gold medallist Maggie Mac Neil, who swims for the University of Michigan, did her final preparation for the Games at the Toronto centre. Titley is joining the Spanish national team's coaching staff. Read more about his departure from the Canadian program here

Canadian Olympic swimmer Taylor Ruck will face Lia Thomas in a U.S. collegiate championship race tonight. Thomas made history last night when she won the women's 500-yard freestyle to become the first known transgender athlete to capture an NCAA swimming title. Thomas competed for the University of Pennsylvania men's team before her transition, which began in 2019. She has complied with NCAA rules restricting the testosterone levels for trans athletes competing in women's events, but Thomas' dominance this season has sparked a lot of controversy — and become the latest flashpoint in the so-called culture wars in the United States. A small group of protestors gathered outside the arena last night, and some inside held signs reading "Save Women's Sports." For tonight's 200-yard freestyle final, Thomas is seeded second behind Ruck, who swam the top time in the heats. Read more about Thomas and the controversy surrounding her here.

You're up to speed. Talk to you tomorrow.

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