From tennis courts to ski hills, bicycles to bobsleds, here’s a look back at 10 compelling 2014 Canadian moments in women’s sport:
The 20-year-old tennis star from Westmount, Que., seemed to make Canadian history just about every time she stepped on court in 2014. She was the first to reach a high ranking of No. 5 in the world and she was the only female player to reach the semifinals of three Grand Slams. And she really drew the nation’s attention when she did what no Canadian tennis player, male or female, had done before by stepping on Centre Court at the All England Club to play in the Wimbledon final.
The Brantford runner was 500 metres from the finish line of the national half-marathon championships in Montreal in April when her left leg gave out. The 37-year-old mother of three didn’t know it at the time but an undiagnosed stress fracture had become a full-blown fracture of her femur. Through excruciating pain, she limped her way to the finish line and even managed to finish third. One emergency surgery and seven months of rehab later, she was back to racing with her goal to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympics intact.
She won the top women’s honours in the somewhat obscure world of ultra-marathon cycling. The 54-year-old Torontonian came to this gruelling sport late in life but discovered that a lifetime of pain and suffering from a severe form of arthritis was the perfect training ground for events like the Race Across the West, a 1,400-kilometre bike race across four U.S. states with more than 12,000 metres of mountains to climb. On her way to overall season titles, she became the oldest women to ever finish that race.
The Dufour-Lapointe sisters
To have three sisters, Justine, Chloe and Maxime Dufour-Lapointe, in a single event in the Olympics was unlikely enough. But to have them come home with the gold and silver medal in women’s moguls was one of the most memorable moments of the Sochi Games. The youngest, 19-year-old Justine who won gold, reached out to hold hands with her silver-medal winning big sister Chloe on the podium during the flower ceremony.
The Fabulous Four
Springboard divers Jennifer Abel and Pamela Ware and tower divers Roseline Filion and Meaghan Benfeito have picked up medals all season in individual and synchronized diving events. They were the Canadian darlings at the 2014 Commonwealth Games winning a total of six medals. The four Quebec women are already being touted as medal favourites for next summer’s Pan Am Games in Toronto.
The 24-year-old from Quebec City helped the national team to its first-ever silver medal at the women’s rugby World Cup in Paris and was the first Canadian to be named women’s rugby player of the year by the international federation. That honour was, in part, due to a spectacular try where she ran almost the length of the field, dodging opposing players all the way to score. That game-winning try was the only one by a female player to be nominated for the international try of the year award.
After defending her World Cup title and winning a second Olympic gold medal, this 29-year-old bobsledder from Calgary went on to push the boundaries of sport, itself, by competing against the men. After years of prodding by Humphries, bobsled’s governing body ruled the four-man event would be gender neutral, opening the door for her and American Elana Meyers Taylor to pilot sleds with a male crew. She was awarded the 2014 Lou Marsh Trophy given to the most outstanding athlete.
The mountain bike champion likes to race and win from the front and that’s just where she was on the final lap of the September world championships in Norway. That 43-second lead proved to be a clincher, enabling her to change a terribly-timed flat tire on the final lap and still go on to win for the second time. At this past summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, she kept the Canadian women’s streak going by winning gold.
If there’s a game that Canadians can’t bear to lose, it’s hockey. And this Beauceville, Que., player comes through when it counts most. In Sochi, the Canadians were trailing their American rivals when, with just 54 seconds left, she scored the game-tying goal. Then, after a barrage of American close calls in overtime that had supporters on the edge of their seats, she netted the power play winner to keep the Canadian women’s hockey gold medal streak going.
The national team gave up on this Owen Sound, Ont., ski racer but she refused to quit. When the team dumped her — feeling her best days were behind her after a slow comeback from catastrophic knee surgery in 2009 — she took to boardrooms and chat rooms to raise the $150,000 she needed to keep training for the Sochi Olympics. She made it, finishing 20th to prove she’s far from done. This December at the World Cup opener in Lake Louise, Alta., she raced to a career-high finish of 4th.