From Pyeongchang to Portage la Prairie: Reflecting on the year in sports

The 2018 sporting year took me on some crazy adventures — it was wild, wicked and wonderful.

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In total, I spent about nine months out of the year in taxis, airports, hotels, crowded busses and sporting venues. There were a lot of long days, mostly during the Olympics and Paralympics, but thankfully I was able to maximize my caffeine intake by using cereal bowls for coffee.

I had a front-row seat to some memorable athletic moments over this past year. Here are some of them.

10. Stampeders capture a coveted Grey Cup

There wasn't heartbreak, a fumble or interception  that would leave the Calgary Stampeders wondering what might have been. Having covered their two previous heartbreaking loses, I couldn't really wrap my head around what a third loss would be like.

Fortunately for Calgary they didn't even have to go there. And when they defeated the Ottawa Redblacks in Edmonton to capture the Grey Cup, they partied like I've never seen.

Watch highlights from Calgary's Grey Cup win:

After back-to-back Grey Cup defeats, Bo Levi Mitchell and the Calgary Stampeders rode off to a 27-16 win over Ottawa, avenging their loss to the Redblacks in the 2016 championship game. 2:49

9. Canada's golden bobsleigh duo

This was about riveting as it gets. And hilarious.

Just before the biggest bobsled race of their lives, Justin Kripps sniffed peppermint aromatherapy to sharpen his senses. Alex Kopacz listened to classical music — a Beethoven symphony, to be exact.

Then they blasted down the track. Ice shot into the air as the Canadian sled screamed past the finish line and screeched to a halt — a cloud of crystallized confetti surrounded Kripps and Kopacz.

Their time went up, displaying a stunning result: after four runs, over two days, with their total times measured to the hundredth of a second, the Canadians had tied for the gold medal with Germany's Francesco Friedrich and Thorsten Margis.

Watch Kripps and Kopacz slide to gold:

Justin Kripps and Alex Kopacz experienced a little Canadian deja vu when they won bobsleigh gold, tying with Germany. Pierre Lueders' Canadian sled experienced the same thing 20 years in Nagano. 1:25

8. Ted-Jan Bloemen's shining moment

It was a fall afternoon in late October at the Calgary Olympic Oval leading up to the Olympics. The speed skating season was just starting to ramp up for Ted-Jan Bloemen.

On that day he set an Oval record for the 10,000-metres and told me immediately after that he felt like something special could happen at the Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Then on the biggest athletic stage at the Olympics, Bloemen set a new Olympic record in the men's 10,000 and captured the first-ever Canadian gold medal in the distance.

Watch Bloemen skate into Olympic history:

Bloemen set an Olympic record with a time of 12:39.77 to claim the gold medal in the men's 10,000-metre long track speed skating event. It's Bloemen's second medal of the Games, following his silver-medal performance in the men's 5,000m event. 14:18

7. Canada's breakout Paralympic star

How can any of us forget what Mollie Jepsen accomplished in her first Paralympics? The 18-year-old from West Vancouver skied her way to four medals for Canada.

She was also responsible for claiming the country's first medal at the Paralympics — all part of an historic medal haul for Canada's Paralympic team.

Watch Jepsen capture gold in Pyeongchang:

Jepsen used a strong slalom run to leapfrog Andrea Rothfuss of Germany for the gold medal in the women's super combined. 1:44

6. Mark Arendz's historic performance

The courageous and remarkable effort by Mark Arendz at the Paralympics is something that sticks with me to this day — the Hartsville, P.EI., native won a medal in every event he competed in.

His gold, two silver and three bronze made him the first Canadian to win six medals at a single Winter Games. He was also, deservedly so, Canada's flag-bearer at the Paralympics closing ceremony. His grace and humility was most noticeable throughout it all.

Watch Arendz's perfect race:

Determined to win a Paralympic gold medal, Hartsville, P.E.I. native Mark Arendz finally stood atop the podium after winning the men’s 15 km standing biathlon race. 1:00

5. Vegas is a (winter) sports town now

How else can you explain the coexistence of bonspiels, pool parties and the Stanley Cup playoffs?

The Vegas Golden Knights were competing for the Stanley Cup in their inaugural year and the men's curling world championship was hitting the pebbled ice.

It was bizarre and wonderful to be in Las Vegas for two weeks writing stories from a pool side curling party and a hockey pre-game playoff party in the heat of the desert.

Who would you cast in the inevitable Golden Knights movie?

The Vegas Golden Knights' improbable run to the Stanley Cup Final hits every sports movie trope, so here's a trailer for the inevitable blockbuster. 0:50

4. Kevin Koe's father on his residential school experience

Fred Koe and I were standing in the middle of the curling ice inside the Yellowknife Curling Club one cold winter night when he started talking about his childhood. Not long after he started curling, he was ripped away from his family and placed in a residential school for 10 months.

He opened up about wanting to provide his children with opportunities — then there he was sitting in the stands in Pyeongchang watching his son Kevin skip Canada at the Olympics. And when Kevin made a spectacular shot during one of the games, Fred ran around the concourse draped in a Canadian flag. That was a magical moment.

3. Dio Gama's Little League odyssey

Thirteen-year-old Dio Gama quickly because a household name across Canada because of his journey to the Little League World Series.

He was born in Las Vegas to Mexican parents. Dio's father, Noe Gama, and his wife moved to British Columbia more than a decade ago; the family's immigration process has been complicated.

He nearly wasn't able to join the Whalley, B.C. Little Leaguers in Williamsport, Pa., before Canada's immigration minister granted Gama a temporary resident permit that would guarantee him re-entry into Canada.

The look on Gama's face when he joined his team for battling practice after traveling through the night to join them in the United States at the Little League World Series is unforgettable.

2. Meeting Canada's 'Superwoman'

On Aug. 20, 1988, on a prairie dirt road in rural Saskatchewan, Marie Wright was in a horrific vehicle accident that left her a paraplegic. But she never stopped.

She raised four daughters by herself, she continued to play the sport she loved and finally ended up on Canada's wheelchair curling team at the Paralympics. And Wright couldn't stop smiling on the ice.

Two of her daughters were in the crowd, overwhelmed with emotion watching their "Superwoman." Wright reminded myself and so many other Canadians anything is possible — and to always keep smiling.

Marie Wright flashes her signature "heart" sign during the 2018 Paralympic Games in South Korea. (CBC Sports)

1. Mikael Kingsbury's Olympic coronation

Mikael Kingsbury's lifelong dream was to be an Olympic champion. I'll never forget the night he finally realized it.

Just as he settled in to make his third and final run of the men's moguls final at Bokwang Phoenix Park ski hill that February evening, the snow started to swirl. It created a dreamlike, wintry wonderland.

I watched that golden run with his parents at the bottom of the hill. Their joy when he won it all, followed by the celebration with their son, is my top moment this year.

Watch Kingsbury's gold medal-winning run:

Canadian moguls skier Mikael Kingsbury won Olympic gold to add the only thing missing from his resume. 0:53

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Post Author: martin

Martin is an enthusiastic programmer, a webdeveloper and a young entrepreneur. He is intereted into computers for a long time. In the age of 10 he has programmed his first website and since then he has been working on web technologies until now. He is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of and Online Magazines. His colleagues appreciate him as a passionate workhorse, a fan of new technologies, an eternal optimist and a dreamer, but especially the soul of the team for whom he can do anything in the world.

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