Quebec women take to the world stage in 2022


From hockey and speed skating to freestyle skiing and tennis, Quebecers are set to make a splash for Canada in the coming year.

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As the National Hockey League lets the Beijing Winter Olympics go by, the Canada-U.S. Rivalry in women’s hockey is poised to garner attention.

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Canada and the United States have dominated the competition since women’s hockey made its debut at the 1998 Nagano Games in Japan. Canada won four of six gold medals and finished second behind the United States on the other two occasions, including at the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Before it was interrupted by the pandemic, the Rivalry series, a barnstorming tour of North America, had produced standing-only crowds as well as strong television ratings. When Marie-Philip Poulin of Beauceville scored in overtime on December 18 to give Canada a 4-2 lead in the series, there were more fans watching women on TSN than the two NHL games on TSN and Sportsnet.

The challenge of women’s hockey is to capitalize on the interest generated by the Olympic Games to offer the best players in the world the opportunity to make a living from hockey.

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“Our goal is to create a league that will allow women to play hockey without having to have a full-time job outside of hockey,” said Jayna Hefford, quadruple Olympic gold medalist and women’s hockey operations consultant. professional. Players’ Association (PWHPA). “We’re not talking about million dollar contracts, but we need a sustainable league that offers reasonable wages, benefits and insurance.”

The best players on both sides of the Canada-US border have come together in an effort to make this dream come true. The PWHPA has partnered with Secret deodorant, Sonnet Insurance and other sponsors to create the Dream Gap Tour which recently completed its 2021 program.

Hefford said the PWPHA is working on dates for the Dream Gap Tour 2022 to take advantage of the interest in the Olympics, but the ultimate goal is to have your own league and that might require NHL support, who deals with their own issues in the era of COVID-19.

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Team Canada captain Marie-Philip Poulin skates between Team USA Jincy Dunne and Hannah Brandt during their exhibition game in Maryland Heights, Missouri on December 17, 2021.
Team Canada captain Marie-Philip Poulin skates between Team USA Jincy Dunne and Hannah Brandt during their exhibition game in Maryland Heights, Missouri on December 17, 2021. Photo of JONATHAN ERNST /REUTERS

The women’s hockey tournament won’t be the only spectacle in town during the Olympics. Several Quebec women are ready to win medals in Beijing.

Kim Boutin, a native of Sherbrooke who trains at the national short track speed skating training center at the Maurice Richard arena, is the favorite in the 500 meters and will lead the relay team. Boutin won a silver and two bronze medals at the 2018 Olympics. She was unbeaten last year in the 500-meter and is the only woman to go under 42 seconds in that event. Canada will seek revenge in the relay, an often chaotic affair that can resemble roller derby. In 2018, Canada failed to win a medal in this event for the first time after being pushed around by hosts South Korea.

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Brittany Phelan, of Mont-Tremblant, showed she recovered from a devastating knee injury when she finished second in a World Cup ski cross event in Val Thorens, France, at the start of December. Phelan, who won a silver medal in ski cross in Pyeongchang, makes a comeback after several surgeries to repair damage she suffered in an accident during a competition in Megeve, France, in 2020 .

Her major competition in Beijing will come from Marielle Thompson of Whistler, BC, who is also returning to form after knee surgery.

The Dufour-Lapointe sisters of Montreal are on the verge of gaining more equipment in the mogul event in freestyle skiing. Justine, the youngest of the three to represent Canada at the Olympics, won the gold medal in Sochi in 2014, finishing ahead of her older sister Chloe. Justine added a silver medal in 2018.

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Olivia Asselin, a 17-year-old from Lac-Beauport, will participate in the big air slopestyle event. Her best years may be ahead of her, but she has been a member of the national team since the age of 15 and has finished in the top 10 on the World Cup circuit several times.

For two decades from the 1980s, Canada dominated acrobatic jumps and was led by a group dubbed the Quebec Air Force, but there are only two Quebecers on the current national team, Lewis Irving of Quebec and Marion Thénault from Sherbrooke. Thénault, 21, has made steady progress since being discovered at an RBC Training Ground event in 2017. A former gymnast and trampolinist, Thénault won a World Cup competition last winter in Kazakhstan, has finished third overall at the World Cup and was Rookie of the Year.

Moving away from the Olympics, teenage tennis star Leylah Fernandez is looking to capitalize on her success after winning her first WTA title and reaching the US Open final last year. The Laval native has the standings and the money to play in all major events and the only possible hurdle is another shutdown caused by a pandemic.

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