Stories of redemption: Canada adds Olympic medals in halfpipe, speed skating and curling

BEIJING — Cassie Sharpe has described her devastating injury and subsequent recovery as going back and forth to hell. Now the Canadian has another Olympic medal to show for a tumultuous year that has taken physical and mental toll.

BEIJING — Cassie Sharpe has described her devastating injury and subsequent recovery as going back and forth to hell.

Now the Canadian has another Olympic medal to show for a tumultuous year that has taken physical and mental toll.

Just over a year after suffering a serious injury at the Winter X-Games, Sharpe won silver in the women’s freeski halfpipe at the Beijing Olympics on Friday ahead of friend and teammate Rachael Karker, who won won bronze.

None of the Canadians could match Chinese sensation Eileen Gu, who won gold for her third medal in Beijing.

Speed ​​skater Laurent Dubreuil added to Canada‘s medal tally later by winning silver in the men’s 1,000 meters after Brad Gushue beat the United States to take bronze in men’s curling.

For a while, it looked like Sharpe wouldn’t even have the chance to defend his freeski halfpipe gold medal at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.

The 29-year-old from Calgary broke his femur and tore ligaments in his left knee in an accident in January 2021. Reconstructive surgery followed by nine months of physical rehabilitation meant Sharpe was just four months of skiing to prepare for Beijing.

“Exactly a year ago I had reconstructive ACL surgery where they fractured my femur,” she said. “It was just a crazy experience going through this and the first three, four months after the operation I didn’t know if I would make it here.

“To be able to turn around and get on the snow just under four months ago and get to the Games and get a podium, I’m extremely proud and quite happy with my performance.”

The weeks following the operation were among the most difficult of Sharpe’s life.

“The first six weeks after the operation I went through hell and luckily I have a very supportive family who helped me through it, got me back on track and kicked me in the butt,” she said.

On Friday at Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou, Sharpe held on to the silver medal behind Gu for all three runs clocking 89.00 and 90.00 on her first and second runs respectively. She scored 90.75 in her third run to take silver.

Karker, of Erin, Ont., scored 87.75 in his first run in his Olympic debut.

“It was amazing,” she said. “Cassie and I have shared so many podium finishes over the years and I’m so happy we were able to land this one as well.”

A few hours later, Canada increased its medal count to 24 when speed skater Laurent Dubreuil won silver in the men’s 1,000 metres.

Skating in the final duet, the 29-year-old from Lévis, Que., crossed the finish line 0.40 seconds behind gold medalist Thomas Krol of the Netherlands.

Haavard Holmefjord Lorentzen of Norway won bronze.

It was a sort of redemption for Dubreuil, who narrowly missed a medal in the 500 meters earlier in the Games when he finished three hundredths of a second behind third.

At the Ice Cube, Canada beat American John Shuster 8-5 in the match for third place, a day after losing in the semi-finals to Sweden’s Niklas Edin.

Canada scored twice in the eighth end and stole two more in the ninth for the win from behind.

“Today and the last two days was about fighting and trying to give yourself a chance to win,” Gushue said. “We had a chance last night (against Sweden) that was tough and we just missed it. And today we got a break in the ninth inning with a steal of two that put the game out. of range.”

It was a second Olympic medal for Gushue and third Mark Nichols, who won gold at the 2006 Torino Games. It was the first Olympic medal for second Brett Gallant and lead Geoff Walker.

It was Canada’s only curling medal in Beijing after the women’s and mixed doubles teams failed to reach the playoffs.

Back in Zhangjiakou, a quartet of Canadian skiers failed to live up to expectations in men’s ski cross.

Brady Leman of Calgary, the defending champion, came the closest. The 35-year-old lost in the semi-finals before finishing second in the small final for sixth place overall.

Leman won ski cross gold at Pyeongchang in 2018.

“I would have loved to follow up with a medal or win again, but I’m really proud of this race,” he said. “I’ve had such a tough last two years, with so many injuries and so many obstacles, and there have been so many times when I didn’t think I had a chance to defend that medal and I did.”

Canada was heavily favored to take the podium at the event.

Reece Howden of Cultus Lake, B.C. won a Crystal Globe for the 2020-21 season. Toronto’s Kevin Drury had won the Crystal Globe the previous season. And Jared Schmidt of Ottawa won bronze at two World Cup events last year.

All three were eliminated in the quarter-finals.

Later Friday, figure skaters Vanessa James and Eric Radford performed in the duo’s short program alongside compatriots Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on February 17, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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