Canadian athletes begin push for Pyeongchang with stellar winter season

It was a jam-packed season of high-performance sport around the world, with Canadians landing on the World Cup podium 147 times, sitting third overall in total medals, as well as third in gold-medal wins with 53.

Every one of those medals has a Canadian success story behind it, and here are some of them:

Virtue and Moir complete comeback

Despite a nearly two-year layoff from competition, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were still considered top contenders in ice dance. No one could have predicted how much of an understatement that would be.

The duo won every single event they competed in this year, smashing records while taking the Grand Prix Final title, Four Continents gold and, to cap it off, their third world title.

The other disciplines were also chock full of Canadian medal content. Kaetlyn Osmond and Gabrielle Daleman took silver and bronze, respectively, in the ladies' event at worlds.

Patrick Chan had his share of highs and lows, taking gold at the Cup of China and Skate Canada, and a fifth-place finish at worlds where his lack of quad jumps may have separated him from the top finishers.

In pairs, two-time world champs Meagan Duhamel and (an injured) Eric Radford gutted out a performance at worlds to ensure Canada would have the maximum three spots in Pyeongchang.

Fairytale endings for Gushue, Homan

Brad Gushue and Rachel Homan's seasons can both be summed up with one word: "Finally."

Gushue scored the Brier title that had long eluded the 2006 Olympic champion and did so in his hometown of St. John's. Nothing like a little home-ice advantage.

Gushue is poised to add his first world title after going unbeaten in the round robin in Edmonton.

Ottawa's Homan won her third Scotties title, then added her first women's world championship — and Canada's first since 2008 — by becoming the first skip ever to go unbeaten in the tournament.

Harvey demands, deserves Canada's attention

After becoming the first North American ever to win the 50km freestyle world title, then complaining of getting the cold shoulder from Canadian media, cross-country skiing star Alex Harvey made headlines with his athleticism on home snow.

The Saint Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que., native delighted the crowd at the World Cup final on the Plains of Abraham, landing two medals and coming less than a second from a third.

Harvey began with a gold in the sprint race, added a fourth-place finish in the mass start, and capped off his weekend with a thrilling photo-finish silver medal.

Harvey was also able to carve out third place in the overall World Cup standings.

McMorris hits highest highs, lowest lows

Canada's snowboard team looked primed and ready to attack Pyeongchang, with several World Cup and X Games medals won, until one of it's brightest stars suffered a serious injury after the world championships.

Mark McMorris is facing a long recovery after a backcountry accident near Whistler, B.C., left him with a broken jaw, broken left arm, ruptured spleen, stable pelvic fracture, rib fractures and a collapsed left lung.

In more positive news, Canadian Laurie Blouin captured her first world title this year, winning gold in the slopestyle discipline.

Canadian moguls team still a force

Mikael Kingsbury had another stellar World Cup season, but his performance at worlds may provide some added motivation ahead of the 2018 Olympics.

After adding to his record total of gold medals during the World Cup season en route to his sixth straight Crystal Globe, Kingsbury settled for a solitary bronze at worlds. Still, he and teammate Philippe Marquis (fourth overall on the World Cup circuit) seem pretty proud of what they accomplished this season.

On the women's side, it was a quieter season than usual for the Dufour-Lapointe sisters, Justine and Chloe, who finished third and fifth overall, respectively.

Fellow Canadian Andi Naude continued to find more success on the World Cup circuit, finishing fourth overall.

Guay roars back into spotlight

Montreal native Erik Guay scored his first world title in alpine skiing in 2011, but it seems the now-35-year-old was just getting started.

Guay won this year's super-G world title (sharing the podium with fellow Canadian and bronze medallist Manuel Osborne-Paradis) and added a silver in the downhill, making a huge statement ahead of Pyeongchang… in more ways than one.

Those performances were partially overshadowed by Guay's comments about the Olympic Games, which he believes "don't mean much to ski racers."

"A lot of times we show up at these Olympics and it's supposed to be the greatest event on Earth but in reality it's a little bit of a Mickey Mouse show," Guay said.

Don't (ski) cross Canada

Defending Olympic women's ski cross champ Marielle Thompson was in fine form this past season, wrapping up the Crystal Globe, while teammate Brady Leman placed second overall in men's competition.

Multi-sport athlete Georgia Simmerling suffered severe injuries in a ski cross event in January, but recovered in time to make it back for the final World Cup event of the season at Blue Mountain in Ontario. It was there she showed both her determination and her sense of humour.

Speed skaters hitting their stride

Canada's long track speed skaters had a memorable season. Ivanie Blondin made four podium appearances (including two gold) while the men's team sprint squad — composed of Ted-Jan Bloemen, Vincent De Haitre, Laurent Dubreuil, and Olivier Jean — won the overall title.

Marianne St-Gelais lead the charge in short track, picking up multiple medals on the way to placing second overall at the world championships.

Humphries still searching for a perfect start

The World Cup women's bobsleigh season wrapped up on a high note for one of Canada's pilots in Pyeongchang, while the other was left off the podium and missed the overall title by a mere 14 points.

Alysia Rissling guided her sled and brakeman Cynthia Appiah to a bronze-medal finish on the 2018 Olympic track, while Kaillie Humphries and Melissa Lotholz finished off the podium in fifth place.

Humphries — who came into the final race with a small 27-point lead in the standings — took a fifth-place result, and finished second overall with 1,630 points.

Justin Kripps was the country's top men's pilot, finishing ninth overall in the two-man discipline, and 10th overall in the four-man.

Rahneva a revelation

Mirela (Mimi) Rahneva had quite the rookie season on the senior skeleton World Cup circuit, taking home a gold, a silver and two bronze medals to secure her third-place overall World Cup ranking.

Teammate Elisabeth Vathje was no slouch, either, picking up two gold medals this season.