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HIGH ACHIEVERS WEEKEND WRAP: Local athletes open Ontario Winter Games with 10 gold, 39 medals

By Martin Cleary

Ottawa’s deep, athletic talent pool showed its versatility and excellence by winning 39 medals in seven sports during the first of two weekends at the Ontario Winter Games.

The 10 gold, 11 silver and 18 bronze rewards came from individual or team competitions, mixed doubles, mixed team relays and players from existing teams drafted to form new teams for the Games.

The Games will resume Thursday and end Sunday in the Renfrew County region with alpine skiing, badminton, biathlon, five-pin bowling, cross-country skiing, karate, kickboxing, para ice hockey, squash, weightlifting, wrestling and wushu.

Here’s a sport-by-sport breakdown on the Ottawa medallists. Artistic swimming results were unavailable.


Ottawa curlers won four of the nine available medals in the girls and boys’ fours and mixed doubles finals, including two gold in the fours event.

Manotick Curling Club’s Sonny DiFranco scored one in the eighth and final end for a 6-5 victory over Kamdyn Julien of Horne Granite Curling Club of New Liskeard in the boys’ fours championship game. The DiFranco rink is completed by third Hunter Leclair, second Philip Burgess and lead Jacob Pierunek.

Ava Acres and her RCMP Curling Club rink of third Aila Thompson, second Liana Flanagan and lead Mya Sharpe started strong and finished even stronger to win the girls’ fours final 10-8 over Amanda Smith of Dundas Valley. Emily Rest of the Rideau Curling Club earned the bronze medal.

Acres sprinted into a 5-0 lead, counting four in the second end, but needed to record three in the seventh and steal two in the eighth to break an 8-8 tie for the gold medal.

Team Acres will have a double-Games month as they soon head to the Canada Winter Games in Prince Edward Island.

In the mixed doubles gold-medal game, Dominique Vivier and Owen Henry of the St. Catharines Golf and Curling Club scored one in each of the first five ends, which sparked a 6-2 win over Navan Curling Club’s Jacob Clarke and Paige Bown.


Ottawa Fencing Club’s Desmond Waller and Mary-Jane Xia joined Vango Toronto’s Adrian Cheuk Lok Ho, Lincoln Fencing Club’s Nicole Zhang and Honor Fencing Club’s Eric Zhao to capture the gold medal in the mixed three-weapon team relay.

Lucy Marshall of Ottawa Fencing was on the bronze-medal team.

Ottawa Fencing athletes also earned four bronze medals in the individual events: Waller (men’s epee), Xia (women’s foil), Marshall (women’s sabre) and Chenghan Huang (men’s foil).


The Ottawa Valley Titans charged into the boys’ U14 championship game on a four-game winning streak.

But the gold medal went to the Sun County Panthers with a 4-1 decision over the Titans, who reached the final with a 7-2 semi-final victory over the Niagara North Stars.

In the round-robin, the Titans defeated Toronto Marlies 3-2, Cornwall Colts 4-2 and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 13-4.


Ottawa Judo Club’s Lauren Ardis and Uplands Judo Club’s Aryanna Godin did double duty in their respective girls’ weight classes.

Ardis won the U16 48-kilogram competition gold medal and the U18 silver medal, while Godin was silver medallist in the U16 70 kg division and U18 70+ kg class.

The other girls’ medallists were Takahashi Dojo athletes Alythea Karseras and Philippa Champion, who were silver and bronze winners respectively in the U18 70 kg class, and East Region’s Erwin Marshall, who took the U16 48 kg bronze.

The East Region’s boys’ U16 medal winners were George Farnsworth (gold, 55 kg), Ronin Hashimoto (silver, 48 kg), Ilay Feterman (silver, 50 kg), Alon Raichlin (silver, 60 kg), Leo Buklin and Jacob Luka Bassett (both bronze, 55 kg) and Tristan Nolan (bronze, 73 kg).

In the boys’ U18 66 kg competition, Xavier Robidas and Connor MacLennan were the bronze medallists.


Seven of the 12 players on the West Ottawa Wild girls’ U19AA team earned Ontario Winter Games medals.

Before the Games, players from the six qualifying teams across Ontario were drafted to form new teams, which were identified by the colours and shades Blue, Red, Orange, Purple, Black and White.

Mia Fioravanti, Molly Cadieux and Lucy Wojcik skated for the Orange team, which won the gold medal with a 5-4 decision over Red in the championship match.

Fioravanti scored two goals and added one assist in the Orange victory. She finished the six-game competition with four goals and five assists.

Isabelle Coe played for Red and received a silver medal.

In the bronze-medal game, Katelyn Barteaux scored the game-winning and insurance goals as Black downed Blue 3-1. Barteaux scored six goals and contributed two assists at the Games.

Twin sisters Alexis and Jaidyn McGuire also played for Black, while Hannah McMillan and Olivia Weylie wore Blue jerseys.


The relay races were the most productive for the Ottawa short-track speed skaters, who helped their teams, which were identified by colors and shades, win four gold, one silver and four bronze medals.

The gold medallists were Sherise Gratton (Red, group 1 mixed relay), Grace Hansen (Light Blue, group 1 women’s relay), Chloe Boudreau (Dark Blue, group 2 women’s relay) and James Cousineau (Light Blue, group 1 men’s relay).

The lone Ottawa silver medallist was Parnian Kariman, who helped the White team to a second-place finish in the women’s group 2 relay.

Earning bronze medals were Charlotte Babin (Red, group 2 women’s relay), Abby Karcher (Grey, group 2 women’s relay), Ian Milne (Red, group 1 men’s relay) and Toby Bettez (Grey, group 2 men’s relay).


The Polar Vortex relented Saturday afternoon and Chelsea Nordiq’s Tory Audet took full advantage of warmer temperatures to win two gold medals at the Eastern Canadian cross-country ski championships at the Nakkertok Nordic Ski Centre.

After missing the Canadian world junior team trials because of injury, Audet rebounded to claim the women’s overall and junior titles in both the sprint race Saturday and the mass-start classic 10-kilometre test Sunday.

Audet won the sprint in three minutes, 21.04 seconds for a 5.25-second victory on the 1.3-kilometre course over Nakkertok’s Shilo Rousseau, who won three medals in biathlon at the recent FISU World Winter University Games in Lake Placid, New York.

Rousseau, a University of Ottawa student/athlete, also was the U23 and university winner.

Nakkertok’s Addison Frank was the girls’ U18 champion in 2:54.15, while clubmate Evelyn Davies was second in the girls’ U16 race in 2:56.47.

“First was my goal, but I wasn’t sure how it would go because it was very cold,” Audet said. “It was a great race, though. I usually do better in the sprints.”

Audet also did well in the mass-start 10-kilometre classic, winning the overall and junior races in 34:51.0.

Nakkertok’s Katya Semeniuk, who trains at the Alberta World Cup Academy, was second in the women’s senior race in 34:55.2, while clubmate Bronwyn Williams was third in 35:20.2.

Frank and Davies were silver medallists in their respective women’s U18 and U16 classes in 36:53.7 and 37:15.8. Isabelle Haag of Chelsea Nordiq finished second in the women’s U20 division in 35:48.2.

Chelsea Nordiq’s Mikayla Kennedy won the girls’ U14 five-kilometre race in 18:25.9.

Kanata Nordic’s Aidan Kirkham, who recently represented Canada at the World Winter University Games, was second in the men’s overall and the top intercollegiate racer during the men’s mass-start classic 10-kilometre in 29:44.2.

Nakkertok’s Mats Halvorsen was fourth in 30:18.8 as well as seventh in the sprint.

Kai Samm of Chelsea Nordiq won the boys’ U14 five-kilometre race in 16:53.6 and Skinouk’s Marc-Antoine Daoust was third in 17:22.6.

Owen Siderius of Nakkertok placed second in the boys’ U16 10-kilometre race in 32:06.3.

Mathieu Lacasse of Skinouk was second in the boys’ U18 one-kilometre sprint in 2:23.50.


The world U23 and junior cross-country ski championships concluded Saturday in Whistler, B.C., with Canada registering two sixth-place results in the mixed relay.

Ottawa skiers played vital roles in the two impressive finishes. The first two skiers in the relay used the classical style, while the final two racers brought it home using the skate technique.

Jasmine Lyons of Nakkertok and the University of New Hampshire went stride-for-stride with the world’s best in her five-kilometre, opening leg of the women’s U23 relay before passing off to Remi Drolet of Rossland, B.C.

Canada finished in 51:40, which was 32 seconds off the podium. France took the gold medal in 51:05.

“It was definitely hard,” Lyons said. “I did everything I could to stick with them. I wanted to maintain as much contact as possible to set Remi up with a good leg. I’m happy with how it went overall.”

By contrast, Nakkertok’s Luke Allan of Dartmouth College skied the anchor leg in the mixed junior relay as Canada stopped in 53:18. Norway grabbed the gold in 51:32.

Allan started the final five-kilometre segment in seventh, but passed an American skier to move into sixth.

“This is a super, awesome result for such a young team in a deep field,” Allan said.


The Carleton University Ravens basketball program celebrated a double victory Friday during the Capital Hoops Classic at The Arena at TD Place.

The Ravens women’s team won its 10th straight OUA game by defeating the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees 66-60 in the opening game of the doubleheader.

Emma Kiesekamp turned in a strong double-double with 18 points and 15 rebounds, while Kali Pocrnic had 17 points, four rebounds and three assists. Nadine Katumbayi scored 15 points for the Gee-Gees and Natsuki Szczokin added 14 points.

The Carleton men’s squad won its third game in a row as guard Aiden Warnholtz continued his hot shooting with 25 points, which included hitting five of eight three-point attempts, and adding six rebounds. Connor Vreeken had 16 points and seven rebounds.

Kevin Otoo paced the Gee-Gees with 22 points, while Cole Newton added 13 points.

The Gee-Gees travelled to Kingston on Saturday, where the men’s team overwhelmed the Queen’s University Gaels 82-52, but the women’s team fell 59-52.

Otoo and Guillaume Pepin sparked the Gee-Gees with 17 points apiece, and Newton put up 13 points, five assists and four rebounds.

Oksana Gouchie-Provencher had a strong game for the Gee-Gees women’s side with 15 points, seven assists and four rebounds.

The Gee-Gees women’s squad is in third place in the OUA East at 15-4, while Queen’s is on top at 17-1 and Carleton is second at 16-2.

The top three men’s teams in the East are Ottawa at 15-4, Queen’s at 14-4 and Carleton at 14-3.


The National Capital Region is represented by two boys’ and two girls’ rinks at the Canadian U18 curling championships in Timmins, ON.

Ontario champion Katrina Frlan of the Huntley Curling Club defeated Emma De Schiffart of Alberta 4-3 in her opening girls’ match. Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club’s Emilie Padbury conceded her first two outings to New Brunswick’s Marlise Carter 5-2 and Nova Scotia’s Rebecca Regan 10-3.

In the boys’ round robin, Quebec champion Raphael Tremblay of Des Collines in Chelsea has a 2-1 record, after defeating Ontario’s Nicholas Rowe of the Ottawa Hunt 5-3 and Manitoba’s Ronan Peterson 6-5 before losing 7-6 in the eighth end to Nova Scotia’s Nick Mosher.

Rowe is at 1-2 in pool play, after defeating Northwest Territories’ Jullian Bowling 7-3, but losing 8-4 to Alberta’s Jaxon Hiebert.


· Pilot Pat Norton of Ottawa and teammates William Ashley, Kenny-Luketa M’Pindou and David Caixeiro placed 20th in the men’s four-man competition during his first world bobsleigh championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

· Toronto Metropolitan University Bold defeated Queen’s University Gaels 6-5 to win the bronze medal at the OUA women’s curling championship and advance to the U Sports nationals. Emilie Lovitt Sansoucy of Vankleek Hill, ON., is a member of the Bold team.

· Filipe Duarte of the Ottawa Bicycle Club represented Canada at the 2023 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in The Netherlands, finishing 62nd in the junior men’s event.

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the High Achievers “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at

Martin can be reached by e-mail at and on Twitter @martincleary.

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