‘Success Stories at Every Level’ : Sask. Athletes to shine on the international stage in 2022 IG News

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The hockey world has been buzzing over Regina Pats forward Connor Bedard’s record-setting exploits at the recent World Junior Hockey Championships, but he’s not the only athlete putting Saskatchewan on the map.

It has been a banner year for fencers, cyclists and basketball players, along with other hockey players.

“It’s been a pretty amazing time for Saskatchewan athletes,” said Kia Schaller, of Regina, who competed internationally in canoe and kayak and is now manager of athlete services for Sask Sport.

“We don’t have to look very far to find success stories at every level.”

Here’s a look at Saskatchewan Sports highlights of 2022.

hockey hardware

The men’s World Junior Hockey Championships technically began in 2022 and ended a few days ago with a gold medal for Canada.

Regina Pats star Connor Bedard broke several records, and scored the goal of the tournament when he went through three other skaters and the goalie to score the overtime winner in the quarterfinals against Slovakia.

A Canadian hockey player in black takes the puck into the net after beating the Slovakian goalkeeper who is not able to cover the net on the right side of the picture.  A Slovakian defender is also visible in front of the goal but behind the Canadian player.
Center, Connor Bedard beat Slovakia goaltender Adam Gajan in overtime to give Canada a 4–3 quarterfinal victory in the quarterfinals of the World Junior Hockey Championships in Halifax. (Darren Calabrese / The Canadian Press)

Bedard, 17, is technically from Vancouver, but this is his third year playing for the Pats in Saskatchewan.

Saskatoon goaltender Darcy Kuemper was also a key member of the Stanley Cup-winning Colorado Avalanche. He brought the Cup back to Saskatoon this summer.

Another Saskatoon hockey star also brought home some hardware. Back in February, Emily Clarke helped Canada clinch an Olympic gold medal in a dramatic 3-2 win over the US

Canada forward Emily Clarke fights for the puck during a 2-0 loss to the United States at the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship. The 2023 tournament will start in April. (@HockeyCanada/Twitter)

When she arrived home, dozens of fans waved signs and cheered to welcome her at the airport.

hoops and heroines

Clarke wasn’t the only female athlete to find global success last year.

Humboldt’s Paige Crozon and her team won a silver medal at the 3-on-3 basketball world championships in Belgium that summer.

Three basketball players in white jerseys celebrate mid-court.
Michelle Plouffe of Canada, Paige Crozon of Canada and Catherine Plouffe of Canada, seen above at the World Cup in June, are hoping to qualify for 3-on-3 basketball at the 2024 Paris Olympics. (Tom Goyvaerts/Belga Mag/AFP via Getty Images)

He spoke to CBC about his personal journey to success shortly after the winning performance.

“I’m a single mom and work full time and I still want to be a part of basketball, because I love it… It’s been so big for me and my whole family.”

Crozon and his team also won the gold medal later in November at the Championships of the Americas in Miami.

Hurdles, Cycling, Fencing and more

Saskatoon’s Michelle Harrison advanced to the semi-finals of the 100m hurdles at the World Track and Field Championships in Oregon.

And in soccer, 17 of the 45 women selected to play for Team Canada at the World Soccer Championships in Finland were from Saskatchewan. Many of them still play their club football for the Regina Riot or the Saskatoon Valkyries.

And then there’s cyclist Kelly Shaw of Middel, Sask. Back in 2021, she captured Canada’s first ever medal at the Tokyo Paralympics. He won two medals at the Road Cycling World Championships last year.

Another standout result for Paralympians came from Ryan Russell of Asquith, Sask.

Russell flew to the Wheelchair Fencing World Championships in Brazil and captured gold in both the saber and epee competitions.

Ryan Roussel is a wheelchair fencer from Saskatchewan who competed at the Tokyo Paralympic Games. (Provided by Ryan Russell)

Many of these athletes got their start in the provincial youth system.

Last year, Sask Sport gave $1 million to help athletes and coaches grow.

But the Kia Scholar said it’s about much more than money. He said Saskatchewan’s community spirit is visible in the thousands of volunteer coaches and officials in every small town, First Nation and city.

“I think, you know, Saskatchewan has the ability to create resilient people, people who are able to understand their greatness and what their strengths are and really lean into them,” she said.

“And some of those athletes who get their start here come back home in the off-season and give back, and they instill that same attitude and motivation into the next generation of athletes, which I think is key to performance.” encourages inheritance.

She said Saskatchewan athletes are still thriving in traditional sports like hockey and football, but last year showed they can also be successful on the ice, in the pool or on the track – and she hopes to add more names to the list in 2023. .


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