While the nation preps to cheer "Go Canada Go" for the start of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Manitobans are clearing their throats for some "Let's Go Toba" chants with eight Manitoba athletes repping the maple leaf for Team Canada at these Olympic and Paralympic Games.
For those of you looking to cheer on your hometown heroes, get used to the names Bailey Bram, Brigette Lacquette, Chay Genoway, Heather McLean, Jocelyne Larocque, Kaitlyn Lawes, and Quinton Howden, as they look to contribute to what we hope to be a strong performance at the Olympics for Team Canada. We're also proud to have Dennis Thiessen representing Canada in the Paralympic Games starting March 8th. You can find profiles of all these athletes on the Team Canada website, but we've got some primers below to keep you in the know!
For the hockey fans out there, Team Canada has medal aspirations for both their women and men squads - with Manitobans offering significant contributions to both.
(Images from olympic.ca)
This isn't Bram's first stint representing Canada on the women's national team (she has one gold and four bronze medals with Canada at the IIHF Women's World Championships),but it's her first time playing for Canada at the Olympics. Bram's made her mark in college hockey at Mercyhurst University, placing in the top-ten for the NCAA female player of the year, and winning the CHA conference championship in her senior year. She's also spent time playing for the Calgary Inferno of the CWHL, where her team won the Clarkson Cup in 2015-16. In the off-season, Bram trains in our Performance Centre with our Sport Performance Specialists in the Canada Games Sport for Life Centre.
2018 will be Lacquette's first time representing Canada at the Olympics, but her experience playing elite hockey is well-documented. Lacquette was part of two silver-medal winning Canadian squads at the IIHF World Championships, won the Clarkson Cup with the Calgary Inferno in 2015-16, and helped her team to gold at the 2013 Four Nations Cup. Most notably, Lacquette is the first First Nations hockey player to be named to Canada's National Women's Team.
Larocque is the lone-Manitoban looking for a repeat gold-medal performance at the Winter Olympics, with this being her second time representing Canada at the Olympics after taking gold in Sochi. Despite her experience representing Canada in the past, these Games will be special for Larocque as she will dawn an "A" on her jersey as Alternate Captain of Team Canada. Along with her Olympic gold medal, Larocque owns five silvers and a gold at the IIHF World Championships, and looks to use that experience to help lead her team back to the podium again in PyeongChang.
Although Chay Genoway spends the season playing pro hockey for HC Lada Togliatti in the KHL, his roots lay strongly in Manitoba. Born in Morden, Manitoba, Genoway is a Team Toba alumni, representing the province at the 2003 Canada Winter Games in New Brunswick. Genoway looks to add a strong veteran presence on the blue-line for Team Canada, as they look to make a mark in Olympic competition for men's hockey.
From Oakbank, Manitoba, the 26 year old Quinton Howden is one of the younger players on the Canadian Men's Hockey team, but despite his age, he holds significant international experience to his name, as the 1st-round NHL draft pick won silver and bronze in the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships. Currently with HC Dinamo Minsk of the KHL, the product of Oakbank has a huge opportunity to contribute to an Olympic medal for Team Canada.
Kaitlyn Lawes is no stranger to Olympic competition, and if you've been watching Olympics in the past her name should certainly be a familiar one. From Winnipeg, MB, Lawes was the third for the Team Canada group that won gold in Sochi in an impressive undefeated fashion. This time, she comes to the Olympics as part of the debut mixed doubles curling event with John Morris, where they'll look to capture Lawes' second career Olympic medal.
Dennis Thiessen comes into PyeongChang already as a Paralympic Games champion, after he helped Canada to gold in Sochi in 2014. Thiessen's also a 2013 World Wheelchair Curling Champion, a 2011 Canadian National Wheelchair Curling Champion, and a three-time Canadian National Curling bronze medalist. Thiessen looks to build upon his already impressive resume with another Paralympic medal in 2018.
From Winnipeg, Manitoba, Heather McLean looks to continue to make noise on the international circuit, but this time on one of the grandest stages of them all at the Olympics. McLean really broke onto the scene in 2015-16 where she won three bronze medals in the World Cup that season. After being diagnosed with anxiety and depression after her breakout year, McLean has been an honest and open advocate of mental health and self-care, and looks to carry out that mindset into the Olympics at PyeongChang.
Ready to cheer on our Manitoba athletes? View the schedule here.