6 Saskatchewan athletes to watch for at the 2022 Beijing Olympics

·6 min read
Mark McMorris of Regina, seen in a slopestyle competition on Jan. 8 at Mammoth Mountain in California, claimed an X Games gold medal in Aspen, Colo. on Jan. 22. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images - image credit)
Mark McMorris of Regina, seen in a slopestyle competition on Jan. 8 at Mammoth Mountain in California, claimed an X Games gold medal in Aspen, Colo. on Jan. 22. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images - image credit)

Six athletes born in Saskatchewan will represent Canada at the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.

The country is sending 211 athletes to the Olympics, which officially begin with opening ceremonies on Feb. 4 and close on Feb. 20.

In total, 16 people with ties to the province will either compete, coach, or officiate in Beijing. The six Saskatchewan-born athletes include:

  • Adam Cracknell, 36, men's ice hockey

  • Emily Clark, 26, women's ice hockey

  • Graeme Fish, 24, men's long-track speed skating

  • Marsha Hudey, 31, women's long-track speed skating

  • Mark McMorris, 28, snowboard

  • Ben Coakwell, 34, four-man bobsleigh

The honour of representing Canada at the Winter Games is not lost on Adam Cracknell, who is from Prince Albert, about 360 km northwest of Regina.

"It's something I can look back on the rest of my life. It's going to be an amazing experience," Cracknell said.

John Woods/The Canadian Press
John Woods/The Canadian Press

Throughout his career, the right winger has worn 21 jerseys with seven stops in the NHL, 11 in the American Hockey League where he's now the captain of the Bakersfield Condors, Edmonton's AHL affiliate.

In his only year playing abroad, Cracknell signed with the Kontinental Hockey League's Kunlun Red Star in 2019-20 — based in Beijing.

"I know where the Cheesecake Factory is and the grocery store, so I'm good to go," Cracknell joked during a video call from Davos, Switzerland, where the Olympic team is training.

The 36-year-old has worn the Maple Leaf before, winning a silver medal with Team Canada at the 2018-19 Spengler Cup.

He credits his parents and his Prairie upbringing for fostering his lifelong love of the game, recalling fond memories of playing hockey outdoors.

"You'd ride your sled out to the rink and your parents would drop off soup throughout the day and we'd be out there for, you know, seven hours a day, just playing and having fun and pretending we were NHL players," he said.

Cracknell, who now lives in Cranbrook, about 960 km east of Vancouver, said that since the Team Canada announcement, many of his minor hockey teammates and coaches in Saskatchewan have reached out in support.

The Canadian men's hockey team will face Germany first in a preliminary round game on Feb. 10, with the medal rounds scheduled for Feb. 20.

WATCH | Women's hockey team talks about their bubble:

Saskatoon's Emily Clark returns to Canada's Olympic women's hockey team for Beijing 2022.

The 26-year-old scored one goal during the team's run in Pyeongchang 2018. The team came home with a silver medal after a shootout loss to the United States in the final.

Clark began playing hockey internationally for Canada in 2011 with the under-18 team. In 2012 and 2013 she helped the country win gold at the IIHF World Women's U18.

Clark has played in five World Championships since joining the National Women's Team in 2014. In 2021, she helped Canada take home its first world title in almost a decade.

The women's ice hockey tournament starts with preliminary rounds the before the opening ceremonies, with Canada facing Switzerland in Group A on Feb. 3.

Medal games are scheduled for Feb. 16 and Feb. 17, bronze and gold respectively.

Olympic Speed Skating debut

Graeme Fish is making his Olympic long-track speed skating debut in Beijing.

The 24-year-old, from Moose Jaw, about 70 km west of Regina, had a world record-breaking performance in the 10,000 m at the 2020 World Single Distances Championships in Salt Lake City.

Rick Bowmer/The Associated Press
Rick Bowmer/The Associated Press

"We're really happy, really excited for him. This has been something he's been dreaming about doing for many years," said mom Marie Fish.

Like other families of Olympians, Fish's relatives will be watching from home due to COVID-19 precautions at the Winter Games.

Marie said she's already adjusting her sleep to the timezone in Beijing, a 14-hour difference from Saskatchewan. The family, including dad Brian and siblings Alex and Lindsay, will be watching from Moose Jaw — in their famous Fish toques.

"When he's racing, we'll all have our toques on," Marie said. "My sister-in-law paints and she's made signs saying: 'Go Graeme go!' And she's made another one that says: 'Fish can skate!'"

Fish will skate the 10,000 metres on Feb. 11.

WATCH | Graeme Fish speak about his inspiring team:

Saskatchewan's Marsha Hudey is competing in her third consecutive Winter Games in the 500-metre long-track speed skate.

Born in Regina, Hudey grew up just outside the Saskatchewan capital in White City. She now lives in Calgary, where she's been training at the Olympic Oval since 2008.

At the last Winter Games in Peyoungchang 2018, Hudey finished 10th in the 500 metre.

Hudey went on to win her first national title in the distance during the 2018-19 season. She claimed her second in the fall of 2021.

WATCH | Mark McMorris talk about what it's like behind the scenes:

Regina's Mark McMorris is a back-to-back Olympic bronze medallist in men's slopestyle — the same event in which he recently claimed his sixth Winter X Games title in Aspen, Colorado on Jan. 24.

The 28-year-old will also compete in the men's snowboard big air competition, for which he is the reigning world champion.

Qualifying runs for men's snowboard slopestyle are scheduled for Feb. 6, with final runs on Feb. 7. Big air is slated a week later with qualifiers on Feb. 14 and final runs on Feb. 15.

WATCH | Ben Coakwell give a tour of his home gym:

Beijing will mark the third-straight Winter Games for Saskatchewan's Ben Coakwell.

The 34-year-old bobsledder is one of three brakemen — alongside Cam Stones and Ryan Sommer — for pilot Justin Kripps, who tied for Olympic gold in the two-man competition in 2018.

Two years after getting into bobsleigh, Coakwell went to his first Winter Games, Sochi 2014, with Team Kripps. They reunited in 2019 and this Beijing team is considered Canada's best medal chance in the four-man competition.

Training heats for four-man bobsleigh begin on Feb. 16, with the gold-medal event scheduled for Feb. 20.

Coakwell was born in Regina, raised in Moose Jaw and currently lives in Saskatoon.

He mostly played hockey and lacrosse growing up, before getting into football in Grade 12.

From there, he became a running back for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, leading the team in scoring and rushing in 2010 and 2011. He also represented the Huskies in track and field as a sprinter.

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