By Frank Giorno
The 2018 Winters Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea will be held February 9 – 25 and Canada promises to once again be upon the medal leaders and will participate in 14 sports fielding a total of 225 athletics including 6 from Northern Ontario.
Residents of Northern Ontario like others across Canada will be cheering for Team Canada and hope that they repeat the success of Sochi where the won 25 medals in 2014 and Vancouver 2010 where they won 26 medals in front of cheering Canadian fans.
At the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics Canada finished first in the medal standings with 26 medals including 14 gold medals, seven silver and five bronze.
At the 2014 Sochi games Canada finished second with 25 medals with 10 gold medals, 10 silver and five bronze.
For residents of Northern Ontario, they will have the opportunity to cheer for six sons and daughters who are from the region.
Tyler Nicholson, 22 years old, is a member of Canada’s snowboarding team who hails from North Bay, Ontario. This will be Nicholson’s first Olympics.
In January 2017, Nicholson captured his first two medals at the X Games in Aspen Colorado, where he won bronze and silver in the slopestyle competitions. In April he underwent ACL surgery and only returned to competition in December 2017
Rebecca Johnston is from Sudbury, Ontario, and has been a force on the Canadian Women’s hockey team having participated in eight Women’s World Championships, and two previous Olympic Winter Games, in Vancouver 2010 and Sochi in 2014. Team Canada won gold at both Olympics.
Johnston has twice led Team Canada in scoring. In the 2011 World Championship, she led the Canadian team with four goals and two assists. She was named one of Canada’s top three players by the coaches. Johnston again was the top Canadian scorer at the 2016 World Championships with two goals and five assists and was named to the all-star team.
Haley Irwin hails from Thunder Bay, Ontario, and has been a member of Canada’s women’s hockey team since 2007.
She competed with the national under-22 team for two years, before making her world championship debut in 2009, when the team won silver. She competed in the gold-winning team at the Vancouver 2010 and the 2014 Sochi games.
Irwin was named to Team Canada for the 2015 World Championships but was unable to compete after suffering a concussion.
Just as it looked like she was ready to return to the ice, a chronic hip injury turned worse, requiring surgery. Away from the national team for almost two years, Irwin returned at the 2016 Four Nations Cup and helped Canada win a silver medal at the 2017 World Championships.
Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford
You can call Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, Northern Ontario’s darlings, as both hail from the region. Despite being from Northern Ontario, the two skaters had never thought about teaming up until 2014 when Duhamel’s previous pairs partner retired.
Meagan Duhamel is from Lively, Ontario and partner Eric Radford is from Balmertown in the Red Lake District Northwest of Thunder Bay. They won world titles in 2015 and 2016 in the pairs competition and became the first Canadian pair to win back to back world championships since Barbara Wagner and Robert Paul won four straight from 1957 to 1960.
Duhamel and Radford won a silver medal at the Sochi Olympics in 2014.
Their first world title capped an undefeated season that included wins at both of their Grand Prix events, the Grand Prix Final and the Four Continents Championships. In December 2017 they won bronze at the Grand Prix Final, the fourth straight year they stood on the podium at that event.
The Team Canada Olympic website explains that Emma Lunder learned to cross country ski when she was only seven years old. But what they don’t mention is that she was living in Timmins, Ontario with her family at the time and learned to cross country ski at the Porcupine Ski Runners Club.
Later her family moved back to their home province of British Columbia where she started with the biathlon. Emma was born in North Vancouver, British Columbia and lived in Vernon, B.C. before settling in Cranmore, Alberta to pursue her biathlon aspirations.
Emma participated in her first international competition at the 2010 Youth World Championships. She also competed at the 2011 and 2012 Junior World Championships, and represented Alberta at the 2011 Canada Winter Games, winning silver in the relay and finishing fourth in the sprint.
Lunder had a career breakthrough at the IBU Cup in Canmore, Alberta in February 2015 finishing second in the sprint for her first international podium in front of family and friends.
Lunder posted her best World Cup result in January 2017 finishing 21st in the 15km individual in Antholz, Italy after hitting 19 of the 20 targets. She also made her world championship debut in 2017 and bettered her career-best World Cup result in December 2017 when she finished 18th in the 10km pursuit in Annecy, France.