Year in review: The sports moments that resonated with Canadians
From the Olympics to the World Cup, it was a scintillating year in sports
We don't have to pretend that 2022 was the greatest sports year ever.
But after two years in which the pandemic single-handedly tore sports schedules worldwide to shreds, maybe an average year was just what the doctor ordered.
And in a perfectly normal year, sports proved it remains the greatest reality show on earth.
Let's break it down with the most memorable event for Canadians of each month:
January — Tennis foreshadowing
Down in Australia, Felix Auger-Aliassime clinched Canada's first ATP Cup title over Spain, completing the series sweep after a Denis Shapovalov win earlier in the day. A similar scene would play out 11 months later at the Davis Cup.
Soon after, the Canadians were stopped in the Australian Open quarter-finals by eventual finalists Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev. It would be the farthest either Canadian would go at any major in 2022. Nadal went on to claim the trophy with a thrilling comeback from down two sets to none, securing his men's record 21st major title in the process.
But some would argue that it was really his *21st title, because just days before the first round, unvaccinated pre-tournament favourite Novak Djokovic was deported from the country. Nadal and Djokovic would continue to steal tennis headlines in 2022 — one for his dominance, the other for his absence.
WATCH | Nadal wins Australian Open:
February — Scandal and stardom at the Olympics
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear Beijing 2022? Perhaps it's China's COVID-zero policy that produced an eerie-feeling Games. Maybe it's the revelation of 15-year-old Russian Kamila Valieva's positive doping test, which led to a heartbreaking free skate featuring the teenager in tears. You may also recall a spat between Canadian snowboarders over a judging error.
But I'm here to remind you of the good. There was another classic Canada-U.S. women's hockey gold-medal game, and of course Canadian captain Marie-Philip Poulin scored yet another title-clinching goal, the third of her career at the Olympics and the fourth gold-medal game in which she's found twine. Poulin would go on to win the Northern Star Award as Canada's top athlete of the year.
WATCH | Canada beats U.S. for Olympic women's hockey gold:
How about Isabelle Weidemann? The speed skater burst onto the scene by winning three medals, including a stirring team pursuit gold. And Charles Hamelin called it quits on his Olympic career with one final medal, a relay gold that equals Cindy Klassen's Canadian record of six Winter Olympic medals.
Honourable mention: Rams beat Bengals to win Super Bowl LVI
WATCH | Canada wins dramatic women's team pursuit gold medal:
March — A Canadian legend skis into the Paralympic sunset
The remarkable Brian McKeever. If 20 medals across six Paralympics didn't speak for itself, then consider that 16 of those are gold. Only one other man has ever won that many Winter Paralympic titles. And if that's still not enough, the Canmore, Alta., cross-country skier was even selected to the Canadian Olympic team in 2010, though he did not ultimately compete.
In Beijing, McKeever announced he'd be competing in his final Paralympics — and he went out in style, collecting three final gold medals.
WATCH | McKeever wins final individual race:
The Paralympics also arrived in the shadow of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the first event in which Russian and Belarussian athletes were banned. The response of Ukraine's athletes was incredible: seven medals on Day 1 and 29 overall, a record for the country and the second most in Beijing.
Honourable mention: Canada clinches spot at men's World Cup for first time since 1986 with 4-0 win at Jamaica
WATCH | Canada confirms place at men's World Cup:
April — The Cat comes back
It was at once totally unbelievable and completely believable to see Tiger Woods teeing it up at Augusta National just 14 months after a car crash that had the 15-time major champion contemplating leg amputation. That Tiger made the cut was just icing on the cake.
But the 2022 Masters, won by Scottie Scheffler despite a final-round four-putt on 18, served also as a harbinger for a messy year in golf. Phil Mickelson's inauspicious absence after referring to the Saudis as "scary motherf-----s" eventually morphed into LIV Golf, a breakaway league funded by those same Saudis that splintered the sport by attracted big names like Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka with even bigger guaranteed money.
Honourable mention: Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski retires after loss to archrival UNC in Final Four
WATCH | Tiger's masterful 1st round at Augusta:
May — The Battle of Alberta
For the first time in 31 years, the Flames and Oilers faced off in a playoff series — and Game 1 lived up to the hype, with Calgary finding its way to a 9-6 victory despite blowing a four-goal lead. It would stand as the Flames' lone win of the series, as the Oilers rebounded for four straight victories while Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl asserted themselves as the most dominant forward duo in the league.
Edmonton would fall to eventual Stanley Cup champion Colorado in the following round as the Canadian NHL title drought reached 32 years.
Honourable mention: Rap star J. Cole joins the CEBL's Scarborough Shooting Stars
WATCH | Goals galore in Game 1 of Battle of Alberta:
June — Summer's summer
I hope you're not tired of the well-worn summer of Summer pun, because with another world championships next, um, summer and the Olympics in 2024, get ready to hear the name Summer a lot. At just 15 years old at June's worlds, Toronto's Summer McIntosh captured two gold medals, one silver and one bronze while smashing multiple Canadian records in the process.
WATCH | McIntosh swims to first gold medal at worlds:
McIntosh was the star of a loaded Canadian team, which also featured Penny Oleksiak capturing her national-record ninth world championship medal, Josh Liendo becoming the first Black Canadian to reach the podium at a major swim meet and Kylie Masse adding three more medals of her own.
Honourable mentions: Iga Swiatek claims French Open title with 35th straight win; Nadal wins recording-extending 22nd Grand Slam title after capturing 14th French Open crown; Canadian Andrew Wiggins helps Golden State Warriors to fourth championship in eight years; Cale Makar takes home Conn Smythe as Avalanche win Stanley Cup
WATCH | Avalanche win Stanley Cup:
July — Canada's rollicking relay win
The 4x100-metre track relay is an exact science — and at the world championships in Eugene, Ore., Canada's men found the perfect formula. Racing to a season-leading time of 37.48 seconds, Canada edged the Americans as Andre De Grasse caught Marvin Bracy on the final leg and beat him to the finish by less than one-tenth of a second to secure the gold medal.
It was the first time in 25 years that Canada won the event, another notch in what's proven to be a golden track age for the country.
WATCH | Canada's men win 4x100m relay gold:
Honourable mentions: Brooke Henderson captures Evian Championship to become first Canadian golfer to win multiple majors; Djokovic wins Wimbledon after Nadal withdraws with injury; Cam Smith comes from behind to beat Rory McIlroy at The Open Championship, defects to LIV soon after
WATCH | Henderson claims Evian Championship title:
August — Hockey Canada scandal clouds pair of gold medals
Canada won the men's world juniors in a flurry of craziness, stopping Finland's potential winning goal at the goal line before going the other way to end it. Canada's women beat rival U.S. to pair its Olympic gold from earlier in the year with a world gold (somehow, Poulin didn't score in the 2-1 win — though she picked up an assist).
But it all felt empty in the throes of the Hockey Canada scandal, which revealed multiple alleged instances of sexual abuse (including one featuring the 2018 world junior team) and a slush fund financed by youth playing fees that went toward settling the ensuing lawsuits. Hockey Canada eventually uprooted its board, but the fallout of a story that reverberated coast to coast is far from over.
Honourable mention: Canada wins third-most medals at Commonwealth Games in England
WATCH | Canada wins world juniors in wild fashion:
September — Tennis icons say goodbye
Serena Williams and Roger Federer largely defined tennis this millennium. Each played the final competitive matches of their career in September. Serena went out at the U.S. Open with an entire crowd behind her, winning two matches — including an upset of second seed Anett Kontaveit — before bowing out in the third round.
WATCH | Williams stuns Kontaveit:
Federer went out with longtime frenemy Nadal, playing doubles together at the Laver Cup, an international tournament pitting Europe vs. the world. The event concluded with the inevitable tears — but from Nadal, who's now lost his forever foil.
Honourable mention: Aaron Brown surges to two medals at Diamond League Final; Becky Hammon leads Las Vegas Aces to WNBA title in first season as coach; At only 19, Spanish tennis phenom Carlos Alcaraz wins U.S. Open title
WATCH | Federer plays final point of career:
October — Blue Jays' wild-card woes
The 2022 Toronto Blue Jays, a trendy pre-season World Series pick, never quite found their mojo. Still, 92 wins was enough to win the top wild-card slot and a best-of-three series all at home against the Seattle Mariners.
Despite the rocky season, the Jays were a popular choice to advance. In Game 1, a dispiriting 4-0 loss put Toronto on the brink. Game 2 promised an electric pitching matchup — the Mariners' Robbie Ray, who won the Cy Young as a Blue Jay the year before, vs. Kevin Gausman, the guy signed to replace him.
The Blue Jays took a 9-1 lead into the sixth inning. But a controversial decision to pull Gausman in the sixth opened the floodgates to an epic collapse, and Seattle would go on to score nine unanswered runs to win the game and the series. A fitting end to a season that never truly got on track.
WATCH | Fans in disbelief after Jays collapse in defeat to Mariners:
November — Canada's men's World Cup moment
It would be hard for Canada to do worse than its lone previous appearance at the men's World Cup in 1986, when it lost three straight without managing so much as a goal.
Canada's first game, against No. 2 Belgium, provided hope as it generally looked like the better team despite a 1-0 loss — a missed Alphonso Davies penalty kick ultimately proved the difference.
WATCH | Davies scores historic goal for Canada:
When Davies finally buried one just over a minute into Canada's second game against Croatia, it felt like anything was possible. Instead, eventual semifinalist Croatia responded with four straight markers to eliminate Canada. A loss in its final group-stage match against Morocco means Canada will still be searching for its first men's World Cup points ever in 2026 when it co-hosts with the U.S. and Mexico.
Honourable mentions: Auger-Aliassime's three-tournament win streak ends, but he caps year with decisive win in Canada's first-ever Davis Cup victory; Argos beat Blue Bombers in Grey Cup with blocked field goal; Astros beat Phillies in World Series
WATCH | Canada wins 1st Davis Cup:
December — Brittney Griner comes home
The nearly yearlong saga was resolved just before the holidays when Brittney Griner, a WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medallist, was brought home from Russia in a prisoner exchange.
Griner, who also played professionally in Russia, was arrested in February in Moscow when she was allegedly found with vape cartridges and hash oil. A guilty plea still landed her a nine-year prison sentence though a trial seen by some as a sham in which Griner was merely a political pawn.
Griner was eventually transported to a penal colony in Siberia. Thankfully, she didn't spend much time there before landing back on American soil. Griner recently announced her intent to return to the WNBA in 2023.
Honourable mention: Lionel Messi and Argentina win men's World Cup over Kylian Mbappé, France in instant classic
WATCH | Fans react to all-time World Cup final:
To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.
By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.
Become a CBC Account Holder
Join the conversation Create account
Already have an account?