Kaillie Humphries wins Canada Athlete of the Year

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Olympic bobsled champion Kaillie Humphries won the Lou Marsh Trophy, awarded to Canada’s Athlete of the Year.

The award, named after the former Toronto Star sports editor and columnist, was voted on by Canadian sports journalists on Wednesday.

The other finalists were tennis players Eugenie Bouchard and Milos Ranoic, hockey player Drew Doughty and lacrosse player Johnny Powless, according to the Canadian reports.

In Sochi, the tattooed Humphries became the first woman to repeat as an Olympic bobsled gold medalist. Women’s bobsled has been on the Olympic program since 2002.

Humphries is expected to make her four-man bobsled World Cup driving debut on Dec. 20 in Calgary. Four-man bobsled was made gender neutral by the international bobsled federation starting this season.

She’s the first bobsledder to win the award.

Other top Canadian athletes this year were Olympic champions Alex Bilodeau and Justine Dufour-Lapointe (moguls), Marielle Thompson (ski cross) and Marie Philip-Poulin (hockey).

Bouchard won 48 percent of votes in the first 2,500 votes of a Toronto Star public poll that did not officially factor into the selection. Humphries was second in that poll of 14 athletes with 17 percent. Sidney Crosby had less than 1 percent.

Canadian Football League running back Jon Cornish won the award last year.

Hockey is Canada’s sport, but Crosby is the only hockey player to win the Lou Marsh Trophy since Mario Lemieux in 1993. Crosby won in 2007 and 2009 (but baseball player Joey Votto won in 2010, the year Crosby scored Canada’s golden goal to win the Vancouver Olympics).

From 1984 through 2008, every Lou Marsh winner in an Olympic year was an Olympic or Paralympic champion.

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Sam Girard, Olympic short track champion, surprisingly retires at age 22

Sam Girard
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Sam Girard, who avoided a three-skater pileup to win the PyeongChang Olympic 1000m, retired from short track speed skating at age 22, saying he lost the desire to compete.

“I leave my sport satisfied with what I have accomplished,” Girard said in a press release. “This decision was very well thought through. I am at peace with the choice that I’ve made and am ready to move onto the next step.”

Girard and girlfriend and fellow Olympic skater Kasandra Bradette announced their careers end together in a tearful French-language press conference in Quebec on Friday.

Girard detailed the decision in a letter, the sacrifices made to pursue skating. Notably, moving from his hometown of Ferland-et-Boilleau, population 600, to Montreal in 2012. His hobbies had been of the outdoor variety, but he now had to drive an hour and a half from the training center just to go fishing.

In PyeongChang, Girard led for most of the 1000m final, which meant he avoided chaos behind him on the penultimate lap of the nine-lap race. Hungarian Liu Shaolin Sandor‘s inside pass took out South Koreans Lim Hyo-Jun and Seo Yi-Ra, leaving just Girard and American John-Henry Krueger.

Girard maintained his lead, crossing .214 in front of Krueger to claim the title. He also finished fourth in the 500m and 1500m and earned bronze in the relay.

“My first Olympics, won a gold medal, can’t ask for more,” he said afterward.

Though Girard was already accomplished — earning individual silver medals at the 2016 and 2017 Worlds — he came to PyeongChang as the heir apparent to Charles Hamelin, a roommate on the World Cup circuit whom Girard likened to a big brother. Girard earned another world silver medal this past season.

Hamelin, after taking individual gold in 2010 and 2014, left PyeongChang without an individual medal in what many expected to be his last Olympics. However, he went back on a retirement vow and continued to skate through the 2018-19 season.

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Maia, Alex Shibutani extend break from ice dance competition

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Brother-sister ice dance duo Maia and Alex Shibutani will not compete next season, the Olympic bronze medalists announced via U.S. Figure Skating on Friday.

“We’re healthier and stronger than we were after the Olympics, and we’re continuing to push ourselves,” Maia Shibutani said in a press release.

“We’ve continued to skate a lot, and we feel like we’ve benefited from some time away to create in different environments and focus on experiences that can help us grow,” Alex said.

The “Shib Sibs” won the U.S. title in 2016 and 2017. They won their first world medal in 2011 (bronze) before reaching the world podium again in 2016 and 2017 with silver and bronze, respectively.

They most recently competed at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, where they earned bronze both individually and in the team event.

Maia and Alex Shibutani are now the second ice dance medalists from PyeongChang to announce they’ll sit out at least part of next season. Gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada will tour instead this fall and are not expected to return to competition.

The siblings haven’t stayed away from the ice entirely in their break from the sport, though — they’ve also been touring and performing in shows.

The Shibutanis became the second set of siblings to earn Olympic ice dance medals after France’s Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay in 1992.

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