2023-24 Team Canada Winter Preview: Ski Jumping, Cross-Country Skiing, Biathlon – Team Canada

With summer training and competition behind Team Canada athletes, the focus is on the winter season, particularly now for Canadians competing in Nordic sports at the highest level.

Medals have not always been easy to obtain for Canadians competing in ski jumping, cross-country skiing and biathlon. But the 2023-24 season presents exciting potential after Canada’s current generation of northern sports athletes posted some of their best results in 2022-23, shocking some of the world’s powerhouses.

As the World Cup season approaches, Team Canada is preparing you to take on the athletes you need to watch during the winter months in ski jumping, cross-country skiing and biathlon.

Ski jumping

Who to watch:

Following the Beijing 2022 Games, Canada became a leading nation in ski jumping – something it had not seen since the 1980s.

With the ski jumping hills at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary no longer operational, Canada’s best ski jumpers have their second home in Europe, training in select ski jumping hotbeds and rising at the top of the world.

  • 2023-24 Team Canada Winter Preview: Ski Jumping, Cross-Country Skiing, Biathlon – Team Canada
  • Alexandria Loutitt mid-ski jump with her V-shaped skis against a black night sky
  • Alexandria Loutitt screams with excitement after seeing her score

On the women’s side, Canada has two of the best 19-year-old players. Alexandria Loutitt and Abigail Strate, 22 years old. The two Calgarians were part of Canada’s historic team bronze medal finish at Beijing 2022 before bursting onto the international scene last season.

Loutitt, who began jumping at the age of nine after watching the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver at the age of six, became Canada’s first-ever ski jumping world champion in 2024, a crowning achievement in a year that allowed him to win two World Cups. podiums – including the first ever victory by a Canadian ski jumper.

LEARN MORE: A story of kindness: Alexandria Loutitt

She won her first career World Cup gold medal in Zao, Japan, adding a second place in Lillehammer, Norway, in March. A proud Indigenous athlete from the Gwich’in First Nation, Louttit also won gold on Canadian snow when she won the world junior title in Whistler, British Columbia.

She continued her momentum this summer, finishing third overall on the Grand Prix circuit with four bronze medals against some of the elite competitors she will face this winter.

Meanwhile, Strate is also among the sport’s best, reaching an individual World Cup podium for the first time in January when she finished third in Hinterzarten, Germany. She placed in the top five three times during the Summer Grand Prix series to finish sixth overall.

Alongside the top two women are Nicole Maurer, 23, and veteran Natalie Eilers, 25, both of whom have been competing in World Cup events since 2017.

On the men’s side, four-time Olympian Mackenzie Boyd-Clowes revealed via Instagram that he was taking a break from competition after more than a decade as Canada’s top men’s ski jumper.

Although Canada will not host any major events in 2024-24, the FIS World Cup season begins on November 24 in Ruka, Finland and continues until mid-March.

Cross-country skiing

Competitions in Canada:

Who to watch:

Canada’s young group of cross-country skiers is hoping to take the next step in their development in 2024-24, after seeing positive progression last season.

Antoine Cyr and Graham Ritchie, both 25, achieved an excellent result by finishing fourth in the team sprint freestyle at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, building on their fifth place at the Winter Olympics in 2022 a year ago.

Individually, Cyr will be looking to make the podium after securing a career-best fourth place finish in January’s 15km classic mass start at Val Di Femme, Italy, a stage of the famous Tour de Ski.

Olivier Léveillé, 22, and Xavier McKeever, 20, will join them for the first stages of the World Cup. This quartet teamed up to finish fifth in the 4x10km relay at the 2023 FIS World Championships, Canada’s best finish in the event since 2009.

After reaching the podium at the Junior World Championships in 2021, Léveillé has enjoyed promising results since becoming a full-time member of the World Cup team, including his first individual top 10 on the Cup circuit of the world in March 2022.

McKeever starts his first World Cup opener. He continues to gain experience as a senior competitor, having only competed in a few World Cup stages towards the end of the last two seasons. But he has a lot of support behind him, including his parents, Robin McKeever and Milaine Theriault, who are both Olympians.

On the women’s side, Canada’s leader will be Olympian Katherine Stewart-Jones. The 28-year-old scored her first individual top 10 on the World Cup circuit last season and plans to use that as a launching pad for other top results. For the first stops of the season, she will be accompanied by Amelia Wells, a World Cup debutant.

Canada’s best cross-country skiers will have the chance to compete on domestic snow as the World Cup circuit takes place in Canmore, Alberta, from February 9-13. There will be nine stages before that, starting on November 24 in Ruka, Finland. From December 30 to January 7, skiers will also compete in the annual Tour de Ski, which includes three World Cup stages.

Retirement Overview::

For the first time since 2015, the Canadian contingent present at the opening of the World Cup will not include Dahria Beatty. The two-time Olympian retired after her fourth appearance at the Senior World Championships in 2024. She made 95 World Cup starts throughout her career.


Competitions in Canada:

World’s Championships::

  • IBU World Championships – February 7-18, 2024 – Nove Mesto Na Morave, Czechia

Who to watch:

Led by Emma Lunder, Canadian biathletes have taken big steps to rank among the best in the world for the first time in a generation.

To start last season in Kontiolahti, Finland, Lunder finished fourth in the 7.5 km sprint before finishing fifth in the 10 km pursuit. Towards the end of the season, she achieved another career best result, placing fifth in the 15 km individual event in Oestersund. In the meantime, she finished seventh in the 12.5 km mass start at the IBU World Championships, her first individual top 10 entry at the world championships.

She is accompanied for the first quarter of the World Cup season by Nadia Moser. The 26-year-old was the only other Canadian to make the top 50 in the World Cup rankings last season. She teamed up with Lunder, Adam Runnalls and Christian Gow for an eighth-place finish in the mixed 4x6km relay at the 2023 World Championships.

Runnalls and Gow will form Canada’s main men’s World Cup team. At just 25 years old, Runnalls achieved the best result of his career last season when finishing 13th in the 10km sprint in Antholz. It was the first time he reached the top 15 as an individual.

At 30 years old and with two Olympic participations behind him, Gow is the veteran. He has finished in the top 10 before, most recently at the start of the 2021-22 season. He then finished 12th in the sprint at Beijing 2022.

In what could be a breakthrough season for Canadian biathletes, they can look forward to the final World Cup event on the calendar taking place March 14-17 in Canmore. There will be eight World Cup stages before that, from November 25 to December 3 in Östersund, Sweden, as well as the IBU World Championships in Nove Mesto Na Morave, Czechia in February.

Alec Dittman

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