Checking in on seven medal-mining Manitobans in Pyeongchang

By Declan Schroeder

There’s gold in Manitoba – mostly up north in the Flin Flon and Lynn Lake areas – and people have been going after it for over 100 years.

A select few, though, have opted to trek east to Pyeongchang in hopes of finding a little more.

We have seven elite athletes representing our fair prairie province at the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. Unfortunately, if you’re like me and have trouble staying up past 10:30 p.m. even at the tender age of 22, the Games can be hard to follow as most events take place during our late evenings or early mornings.

This week, I’m setting aside my usual snark and sarcasm to check in on what our Manitobans have already done and what they’re hoping to do – grab some awesome ore, obviously.

It’s not surprising, given our province’s penchant for occasionally being slightly chilly for short periods of time, that all seven are competing in ice-based sports, six on blades.

They’ve embraced the frozen tundra, unlike me – I only embrace complaining at this time of year. That’s why they’re in South Korea and I’m not.

That’s totally the only reason.

One Manitoban already has a gold. St. Vital Curling Club’s Kaitlyn Lawes, along with John Morris, ran roughshod over their competitors in the quirky, brand new, mixed-doubles curling event. The duo obliterated the Swiss 10-3 in the final draw.

The third thing that’s not surprising that over half play Canada’s game: hockey.

Four athletes, two men and two women, are looking to light the lamp brighter than the 3000 drones that were supposed – key word supposed – to light up the sky during the Opening Ceremony (and also brighter than Intel, who pretended the drones got off the ground.)

The absence of NHL players in men’s hockey has opened the door for comparatively unknown, but still skilled Canadians playing in other leagues, to try and give Canada its third straight gold.

Quinton Howden of Oak Bank – who’s tallied 30 points with Minsk Dynamo of the Kontinental Hockey Leauge this year but has also played 97 games in the NHL – was held pointless as Canada opened the preliminary round with a 5-1 win against Switzerland. He registered one shot and played 5:10.

Morden’s Chay Genoway, a defenseman who’s got 20 points in 54 contests for Tolyatti Lada also of the KHL, didn’t record any points in the contest, but played 16:31 and was +1.

Men’s hockey gold is really anyone’s to win. Genoway, Howden, and the rest of the men’s team will hit the ice again on Friday night against the Czech Republic.

Meanwhile, the powerhouse women’s club has finished their preliminary round. They’ve won four consecutive golds and are in good shape for another – they’ve been perfect so far, crushing the Olympic Athletes from Russia, conquering Finland, and eking out a win against arch rival the United states.

The squad has a trio of ‘Tobans – Bailey Bram, Brigette Lacquette, and Jocelyn Laroque. Lacquette and Laroque each have an assist, while Bram is pointless thus far. There’s no doubt these three will be looking to make a bigger impact in the medal round.

Ice NASCAR – I mean speed skating – is the milieu of our last Manitoban. Winnipeg’s Heather McLean, in her first Olympics, finished 25rd in the 1000 metre qualifiers on Wednesday with a time of 1:17.

I can also skate 1000 metres, but it takes me approximately twenty times longer and a post-skate bag of mini donuts to recover. McLean will also compete in the 500 metre event on Sunday.

So over the next week-and-a-bit, keep your eyes glued to your TV screen. Or, if you can’t keep them open, at least keep your PVR recording and Twitter account logged in.

You’ll want to watch our ‘Tobans as they search for gold, because they very well might be bringing plenty homeward bound.