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Sports 2020: the year in review

2020 was an up-and-down year for sports, but was still filled with noteworthy accomplishments from local athletes such as Jacob Bernard-Docker, Shane Stewart, and entire Bow Valley contingent at the Alberta Winter Games.

JANUARY

John Morris and Rachel Homan win second annual Qualico Mixed Doubles Classic held at curling rinks in Banff and Canmore. The duo defeated defending champions Korey Dropkin and Sarah Anderson.

Canmore defenceman Jacob Bernard-Docker and Team Canada win gold after a wild 4-3 comeback against Russia in the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Biathlete Emma Lunder has her two best world cup finishes in sprint and mass, finishing seventh and 15th, respectfully.

Canmore Para-Nordic star Brian McKeever and his guide Graham Nishikawa won gold in the six-km skate-ski race at the Para-Nordic Wolrd Cup in Altenberg, Germany.

The sports world remembers former NBA star Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash outside Los Angeles on Jan. 26.

Canmore's Allison Vest wins the crown at Climbing Escalade Canada's Open Boulder Nationals.

Canmore MMA fighter Adam Zekry ground and pounds his way to victory inside two rounds. The welterweight (170 lbs.) defeated Derek Khosa by second round TKO at Fight Night 12 in Lethbridge, improving his amateur record to 2-0.

 

FEBRUARY

Feb. 14: The 2020 Alberta Winter Games (AWG) begin in Red Deer, Airdrie and Canmore.

Cross-country

Local skiers were big winners at the AWG, winning 19 combined medals (13 individual, six team) to wrap up the three-day (Feb. 15-17) sporting event at the Canmore Nordic Centre.

Canmore's Sabine Comeau, 14, was the standout local athlete at the games, winning two gold medals (U16 female sprint and relay) and a silver (classic).

Isabel McLurg, Theo Fradette and Kaisa Lemyre also brought in three medals each. McLurg won gold (U16 female relay), silver (sprint), and bronze (classic), Fradette won bronze three times (sprint, classic, U16 male relay), and Lemyre won three silver medals (U14 female relay, sprint, classic).

Teo Wadsworth (silver, U14 male classic), Tasmin Munro (bronze, U14 female sprint), Jordy Munro (silver, U12 male sprint), Lincoln Meekins (bronze, U12 male sprint), and Gabrielle Tessier (bronze, U12 female sprint).

In relay, the U16 female team, the Blackbucks, consisting of Sabine Comeau, Isabel McLurg and Heidi Bryant won gold. The Pronghorns (Kaisa Lemyre, Charlotte Wilson and Aria Grandi) won silver in U14 female, and Springbok (Tasmin Munro, Lucia Baergen and Jewel Weighell) won bronze.

The Blue Wildebeasts (Teo Wadsworth, Ben Field and Torin Comeau) won silver in U14 male. The Greyhounds (Theo Fradette, Felix Clement and Kai Perron) won bronze in the U16 male. In the U12 mixed relay, the Cheetahs (Lincoln Meekins, Gabrielle Tessier, Sonija Rapcewicz and Jordy Munro) won silver.

Biathlon

Shooting on home soil, local biathletes brought in five medals at the AWG.

Ben Dreger (gold, Dev. 2 boys individual), Larix Hallet (gold, air rifle 2 male sprint; silver, air rifle 2 mass start), Rylan Chevalier (silver, air rifle 2 male sprint), and Fraser Gleig (bronze, Dev. 1 male mass start).

Gymnastics

Canmore Illusions gymnast Ellie Sucharda stepped on the podium twice winning won gold in beam and bronze in bars. Her teammate, Kayden Crowe finished fourth on floor.

Futsol

Both the Zone 2 male and female futsal teams took home silver at the AWG. On the female squad was Canmore’s Mary Huggill, and three local boys competed on the male team (Asher Betts, Alex Bohnet and Johann Bohard).

Hockey

The Zone 2 male hockey team won bronze after defeating Zone 4, 7-5. Three locals were on the team (Leo Johnson, Tyler Deakos and Connor MacKenzie).

Speed skating

Evan Beamish (fourth, 13-14 male team pursuit; 11th, 13-14 male individual) and Lili Wilz (fourth, 13-14 female team pursuit; fourth, 13-14 female individual).

Figure skating

Paige Domenico (fifth, juvenile women’s singles) and Kimberley Dearing (ninth, Star 6 women’s singles).

Feb. 17: The AWG ends. In all, Bow Valley athletes won 29 medals.

Canmore climber Alex Vanier is named to Climbing Canada's National Youth Squad.

Canmore climber Becca Frangos finished fifth at the Pan American Continental Championships. The result doesn't qualify her for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

At the 2020 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games, two local athletes hauled in medals at the competition in Thunder Bay, Ont. Figure skater Meg Ohsada won gold in level 3 competition, and cross-country skier Shane Stewart won one silver and three bronze in individual and team relay.

MARCH

Canmore's alpine racer Caleb Brooks won two gold and two silvers at the Sporting Life Series 3 at Sunshine Village.

Junior Canadians make history after winning the nation's first ever team relay medal at a major cross-country skiing event. Led by Canmore's Xavier McKeever, the team of Tom Stephen, Remi Drolet, and Olivier Léveillé raced to silver in the four by five-kilometre men's relay at the Nordic World Ski Championships in Oberwiesenthal, Germany.

Canmore judoka McKenzie Morgan won gold in men's -90 kilogram category at the 2020 Edmonton International.

March 11-12: COVID-19 strikes the sports world as leagues and organizations suspend play or shut down including the NBA and NHL.

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo are postponed until 2021.

The 2020 COOP FIS Cross-Country World Cup in Canmore is cancelled.

The AJHL playoffs are cancelled.

 

APRIL

Canmore's Chandra Crawford, gold medallist of the ski sprint at 2006 Winter Olympics, is inducted into the Canadian Ski Hill of Fame.

 

MAY

Canmore's Jan Ullmark, a decorated figure skating coach, is inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.

Canadian Emily Nishikawa, two-time Olympic cross-country skier, retires from competition.

Golf returns in a big way. In May and June, golf courses across the country start opening and see record numbers of golfers flocking to the links over the spring, summer and fall.

Cross-country skier Katherine Stewart-Jones is welcomed back to the National Ski Team for 2020-21 after appealing Nordiq Canada's decision that excluded the top Canadian athlete.

Banff Hockey Academy is sold and relocates to Dunmore, Alta. The program is now called the South Alberta Hockey Academy.

Local multi-sport companies, such as Grizzly Mountain Events, fight to stay alive amid the pandemic and event cancellations. However, some companies, such as Banff Marathon and 5 Peaks Adventures begin laying out virtual racing events, where participants can run wherever and whenever, and time themselves on the course they signed up for.

 

JUNE

Canmore and Banff high schools virtually hand off 2019-20 athletic awards.

OLS junior and senior athletes of the year: Justin Hughes, Adrianna Domingo, Finn McLaughlin and Cassie Lang.

BCHS athletes of the year: Catrina Dang and Logan House.

CCHS athletes of the year: Ryan Brunet and Trinidy Spiess.

Canmore figure skater Meg Ohsada is awarded the 2020 Jamie Salé Special Olympics Skater Achievement Award.

Canmore's Britt Richardson is named to Alpine Canada's NextGen Program, which recognizes the next generation of top alpine skiers on track to potentially wear the Maple Leaf one day.

 

JULY

Canmore Minor Soccer returns to the pitch with training sessions.

The Town of Banff pitches to council to potentially retrofit one of its ice rinks at the Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre into a year-round field house. The controversial pitch, which received blow back from the local winter sports community, was shot down by council in October.

Canmore road cyclist Sara Poidevin is named to Cycling Canada's Olympic squad.

 

AUGUST

Olympic hockey champ Therese Brisson takes over as CEO and president of Alpine Canada.

The 2020-21 Lake Louise FIS Alpine Ski World Cup, scheduled for November and December, is cancelled. In a unified decision, it was announced the entire world cup season would be exclusively held in Europe due to COVID-19.

Alberta high schools sports are authorized to return in fall, but restrictions on inter-school competitions and in-school practices are in place.

Canmore speed skating coach David Gilday is inducted as a sports builder into the Speed Skating Canada Hall of Fame.

The Canmore Golf and Curling Club crowns winners for its annual club championships. Ben Bagley won the junior boys; Mila Tresidder won the junior girls; Alex Large won the men's division; Lori Hogarth took home the women's and senior women's crowns; and Louise Schultz won the super senior women's title.

 

SEPTEMBER

Changes for the upcoming winter season are announced at local ski hills including mandatory masks at Sunshine Ski Village and Nakiska, and only if necessary at Mount Norquay and Lake Louise ski resorts.

After five seasons with the Canmore Eagles, assistant coach and assistant general manager Evan McFeeters departs the AJHL hockey team. McFeeters, from Canmore, joins rival the Brooks Bandits' coaching staff.

The IBU cancels the 2020-21 junior cup season, but moves forward with the World Cup.

The Masters World Cup for cross-country skiing, scheduled for March 2021 in Canmore, is postponed until 2022.

The Terry Fox Run goes virtual across the country.

Melissa's Road Race, Banff's biggest race, goes virtual.

Local ultra runners spend summer crushing the Bow Valley's Fastest Known Times. In all, there were at least 23 new top-times over the summer.

 

OCTOBER

Canmore Eagles alumni Alex Young is selected by the San Jose Sharks in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. The 19-year-old centre was picked in the seventh round (196th overall) by the California-based club.

Stoney Nakoda goalie Triston Bearspaw signs with the Tier II Junior A club the High Prairie Red Wings.

Canmore goalie Jay Thomson signs with the West Kelowna Warriors of the BCHL.

After a rumour circulated that the NHL was looking to play an outdoor game at Lake Louise, Parks Canada confirmed they had not received a proposal from the league to play at the world famous lake.

Paralympian great Brian McKeever announces the 2022 Beijing Winter Paralympic Games will be the end of his legendary cross-country ski career.

Canmore cross-country skiers Tabitha Williams and Luke Fricker are selected to the Alberta Ski Team.

Nordiq Canada's National Ski Team criteria, which many called for a reform, is now being revised under new CEO Stéphane Barrette.

As more people look to social distance, there's a high demand for Nordic skiing and equipment this winter.

Team Kevin Koe is upset by young guns Team Jeremy Harty at ATB Banff Classic at the Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre. The veteran curling team, which included John Morris, lost 8-4.

Mount Norquay Ski Resort has its earliest opening day in 95-year history on Oct 24. Just five days later (Oct. 29), Lake Louise Ski Resort also welcomes guests to the slops for its earliest opening day.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Mt. Norquay (@mtnorquay)

 

NOVEMBER

Canmore's Shane Stewart is awarded Special Olympics Alberta's male athlete of the year.

Local rugby star Holly Phillips signs with the Bristol Bears Women of the English premiership for the remainder of the 2020-21 season.

Quebec skiers are included among positive cases of a COVID-19 outbreak in Canmore. Eleven cases were linked "within the Canmore regional training environment."

Nordiq Canada bows out of world cup competition until 2021.

Construction of new bouldering gym, Canmore Climbing Gym, gets underway.

NHL draftee Alex Cotton signs with the Canmore Eagles. The blueliner, selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2020 Entry Draft, is on loan from the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the WHL.

After winning its first two games, the Canmore Eagles go into mandatory quarantine after a COVID-19 outbreak spreads to at least 14 players and staff.

The AJHL pauses league action as new provincial restrictions come into play.

 

DECEMBER

Canadian triathlete Paula Findlay wins the PTO 2020 Championship and $100,000 grand prize in Daytona Beach, Florida. Findlay spent three months training in Canmore in high-altitude prior to flying to Florida for the event.

Canmore alpine skier Erik Read scored two 10th places in giant slalom at the Audi FIS Ski World Cup in Santa Caterina Valfurva, Italy, resulting in a personal best, and near podium finish.

Canmore defenceman Jacob Bernard-Docker, a 2018 Ottawa Senators draft pick, kneels during the national anthem at his North Dakota Fighting Hawks game in support of racial equality.