2015 Canada Winter Games on TSN and RDS

I have no idea what the Canada Games are. I’m fairly positive I have never ever heard of the Canada Games. It seems a little weird for a country to have its own mini-Olympics. I’m also confused as to why sports such as archery, gymnastics, badminton, squash and judo are in the winter version.

Anywho, TSN and RDS will be covering the 2015 Canada Winter Games. Apparently they’ve been doing this for the past nine events. They will run from February 13 to March 1. All the details below.

TSN and RDS are once again bringing Canadians live coverage of the CANADA GAMES, delivering 40 hours of the action from Prince George, B.C. – host city of the 2015 CANADA WINTER GAMES. Marking the ninth CANADA GAMES to air on TSN and RDS, the 2015 CANADA WINTER GAMES officially get underway with the Opening Ceremony on Friday, Feb. 13 at 10 p.m. ET on TSN2 and RDS2 and culminate with the Closing Ceremony on Sunday, March 1 at 7 p.m. ET on TSN2 and RDS.

Two-time Olympic gold medallist and past CANADA GAMES participant Catriona Le May Doan will be in the TSN Studio to anchor TSN’s live coverage of the 2015 CANADA WINTER GAMES. SPORTSCENTRE’s Paul Hollingsworth will provide play-by-play throughout the CANADA GAMES, including men’s hockey alongside analyst Dave Reid and women’s hockey alongside analyst Cheryl Pounder.

TSN’s broadcast team also features:
Speed Skating: Two-time Olympic silver medallist Susan Auch
Curling: Olympic bronze medallist Melissa Soligo
Badminton: London 2012 Team Canada badminton head coach Ram Nayyar

“We are proud to deliver comprehensive coverage of the 2015 Canada Winter Games,” said Stuart Ballantyne, CEO of the 2015 Canada Winter Games. “Through our broadcast and webcast partnerships, the spirit of the 2015 Games and the northern story will be shared across the nation. From the excitement of the Opening Ceremony to the joy of winning a gold medal, Canadians will be able to journey with us to the 2015 CANADA WINTER GAMES from the comfort of their homes.”

The 2015 CANADA WINTER GAMES brings together more than 2,400 athletes, 1,000 coaches and officials, up to 4,500 volunteers, hundreds of media, and thousands of visitors in Prince George – the first city in British Columbia to host a winter edition of the games. The CANADA GAMES are held once every two years and alternate between winter and summer, representing the highest level of national competition for up-and-coming Canadian athletes.

TSN’s broadcast schedule for the 2015 CANADA WINTER GAMES is below (visit RDS.ca for RDS’s broadcast schedule):

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2013 Alpine Ski World Championships

The 2013 FIS Alpine Ski World Championships begin Tuesday morning in Schladming, Austria. The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi begin a year from this week (more on that later in the week), so this is a great chance to see the best skiers a year out from the Games. Canada’s Erik Guay is the defending champion in the men’s downhill, while Lindsay Vonn, amid rumours of her relationship with Tiger Woods, tries to re-capture a World Championship after finishing with no gold medals in 2011.

Sportsnet and CBC will have coverage of the Alpine Ski World Championships. Sportsnet will show weekday races, while CBC has coverage on the weekend. Brad Fay and Brian Stemmle will call races for Sportsnet. I have not confirmed CBC’s broadcast crew; however, Kerrin Lee-Gartner is their analyst.

Here is the complete broadcast schedule. All races are also streamed live earlier in the day on Sportsnet.ca or CBCSports.ca.

Tuesday 2/5, 2:00pm ET/MT/PT – Women’s Super-G – Sportsnet (encore: 10pm ET on SN1)
Wednesday 2/6, 7:00pm ET – Men’s Super-G – Sportsnet ONE
Friday 2/8, 3:00pm ET – Women’s Combined – Sportsnet East/Ontario (encore: 7pm ET on SN1)
Saturday 2/9, 5:00pm ET – Men’s Downhill – Sportsnet (encore: 7pm ET on SN1)
Sunday 2/10, 2:00pm local – Women’s Downhill – CBC
Monday 2/11, 3:00pm ET/MT/PT – Men’s Combined – Sportsnet (encore: 7pm ET on SN1)
Thursday 2/14, 7:00pm ET/MT/PT – Women’s Giant Slalom – Sportsnet
Friday 2/15, 3:00pm ET/MT/PT – Men’s Giant Slalom – Sportsnet (encore: 11pm ET on SN1)
Saturday 2/16, 4:30pm ET – Women’s Slalom – CBC
Sunday 2/17, 3:00pm local – Men’s Slalom – CBC

The 2012 Tour de France Begins Saturday on TSN and NBC

Ryder Hesjedal is one of the hottest cyclists in the world coming off a victory at the Giro d’Italia. Winning back-to-back Grand Tour races is just about impossible; however, TSN is still hoping more casual viewers will tune in to watch him at the Tour de France. Hesjedal is also representing Canada at the Olympics in London later this month. Here is their press release detailing their coverage of the 2012 Tour de France.

TSN and TSN2 deliver live Canadian coverage of cycling’s most prestigious event, the TOUR DE FRANCE, beginning on Saturday, June 30 at 8 a.m. ET on TSN2. Canada’s Sports Leader will broadcast 70 hours of live TOUR DE FRANCE coverage as Canadian Ryder Hesjedal looks to make his mark in the 99th running of the gruelling race. In addition to live race coverage, TSN and TSN2 will feature daily TOUR DE FRANCE RECAP SHOWS in prime time (see complete broadcast schedule below).

TSN and TSN2 will feature NBC Sports broadcast coverage of TOUR DE FRANCE with acclaimed voices of cycling, Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen calling all the race action.

SPORTSCENTRE will feature daily highlights and updates of all stages of the race, including TOUR DESK REPORTS from on-site host Liam McHugh alongside former cyclist and TOUR analyst Bob Roll.

The demanding three-week event will feature 22 teams of the best cyclists in the world of racing, cycling through France in pursuit of the yellow jersey. The TOUR DE FRANCE covers a grand total of 3,497 kilometers and this year features nine new stage towns, along with three of the 20 stages having riders race alone against the clock: Stage 1 (6.4 km), Stage 9 (41.5 km) and Stage 19 (53.5 km).

Canada will be represented by Victoria, B.C. native Ryder Hesjedal, returning to his sixth TOUR DE FRANCE and headlining Team Garmin-Barracuda this year. Hesjedal has had an impressive season so far, as he won Giro d’Italia last month and was named to the Canadian Olympic road cycling team to represent Canada at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Hesjedal will compete against 2011 TOUR DE FRANCE winner Cadel Evans, along with brother-duo Andy and Frank Schleck, who finished second and third. Racing fans will be able to track Ryder’s attempt to make history and be the first Canadian to win a TOUR DE FRANCE title with TSN.ca tracking his progress after each stage with The Ryder Report. TSN.ca also has daily video highlights along with a live interactive race tracker and bios of cyclists competing in the event.

Continue after the break for a complete broadcast schedule for TSN and NBC. All times are Eastern.

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2012 Cycling on Sportsnet Schedule

Sportsnet and the Canadian Cycling Association, has released details of its summer 2012 cycling programming. Sportsnet will show all four major UCI World Championship events (Mountain, Road, BMX and Track), as well as the Giro d’Italia, Vuelta Espana, Quebec Grand Prix and other tour events.

Here is the press release.

Canada’s emerging cycling success will be on display this season thanks to unprecedented television coverage of cycling races on Sportsnet this summer.

Sportsnet will broadcast cycling races from around the world featuring Canadian riders, including the 2012 UCI Track Cycling World Championships, the 2012 UCI BMX World Championships, the 2012 UCI Road World Championships and the 2012 UCI Mountain Bike and Trial World Championships, as well as a large portion of the 2012 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup tour.

“This is a significant step in the right direction as we are moving ahead with our Vision 2020 plan to become a leading competitive cycling nation by 2020 and beyond. Our Canadian cyclists are enjoying international success in all disciplines, and this television coverage will put these performances at the forefront of the Canadian sports and media scene,” declared Greg Mathieu, Chief Executive Officer for the Canadian Cycling Association.

In addition to the broadcast of UCI properties, Sportsnet will carry coverage for many professional cycling races for the UCI World Tour and the UCI America Tour.

Here are coverage details of the UCI events:

2012 UCI Track World Championships (Melbourne, AUS)
– May 1 – 12noon-2pm (Sportsnet One)
– May 2 – 12noon-2pm (Sportsnet One)

2012 UCI BMX World Championships (Birmingham, GBR)
– June 5 – 12noon-2pm (Sportsnet One)
– June 6 – 12noon-2pm (Sportsnet One)

2012 UCI Road World Championships (Limburg, NED)
– September 20-23 – Sportsnet One (Time TBD)

2012 UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships (Leogang/Saalfelden, AUT)
– September 8-9 – Sportsnet One (Time TBD)

2012 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup
– April 30th – 4pm
– May 28th – 4pm
– June 4th – 4pm

Sportsnet One will also show the Giro d’Italia (May 5-27), Tour of California (May 13-20), Vuelta a Espana (August 18-September 9), Quebec Grand Prix and Tour of Beijing (October 6-10).

Many of these events serve as warm up events for the 2012 London Olympic Games. TSN and RDS will show the Tour de France, while RDS has additional coverage of other major European races this spring and summer.

Amateur Sports Reporter Randy Starkman Has Passed Away

Starkman was popular with Canadian athletes, including Canada's aerials team. (photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star)

I could hardly believe the news I came home to yesterday. Randy Starkman, an amateur sports writer (actually THE amateur sports writer, there was no other like him) for the Toronto Star had passed away. Starkman was only 51 years old. I knew he was in hospital with pneumonia, but I had no idea he was as sick as he was. I never met Randy. I can’t even remember for certain if I ever conversed with him on Twitter. But from the tributes that have poured in from his peers and those he covered alike show how well-liked he was by those who knew him.

I grew up with an interest in Olympic sports. There is nothing like athletes who do a sport because they love it, even if it means not having as much money as they could have with a full-time job. Very few journalists have given those athletes time of day over the years. There’s always been Scott Russell and Brian Williams on the television side, then there was Starkman in print media. He knew multiple amateur sports better than most beat writers know the one team they cover. He had opportunities to move to higher profile gigs, yet like the athletes he covered, he loved what he did so much he didn’t want to do anything else.

He may best be known from breaking the news that Ben Johnson had tested positive for steroids in 1993. It was the second time Johnson had failed a drug test. But he was more than that. He was the reporter that gave skiing, swimming, athletics and countless other sports a voice alongside the Leafs and Jays in the Toronto media.

Like I said, I’d never spoke to him. I’m not the best person to speak about him as a result. Instead, I suggest you read these articles by CBC’s Scott Russell (Starkman was frequently on a CBC panel of amateur sports reporters in recent years), kayak Olympic gold medallist Adam van Koeverden, Clara Hughes, Dave Stubbs and Kristina Groves. Each has their own unique memory to share of Randy. And those aren’t the only ones.

Rest in peace Randy. There will be a big void for myself and many others when reading London Olympic news this summer.

CBC’s 10% Cuts Hit CBC Sports

Most of us figured it was only a matter of time before the government’s 10% cut in funding for CBC/Radio Canada  hit CBC Sports. After all, just about every other department at the public broadcast had already taken its share of the burden. Last week CBC’s documentaries, news, radio and original programming sectors all took cuts to reduce funding. Yesterday, CBC executive vice-president Kirstine Stewart announced CBC Sports will have to cut $4 million from its annual budget. All things considered, it could be worse. CBC News will have to cut $10 million annually.

Amateur sports will take a particularly hard hit. CBC will cut the amount of amateur sports programming on the weekend. The flagship program, CBC Sports Weekend, will only air in the winter now. Sports like alpine skiing and figure skating, which get respectable ratings and good sponsors, will likely stay. Others, especially those in the summer, are less certain. CBC has already lost rights to Skate Canada’s figure skating package and World Cup bobsleigh in the past year.

I think CBC should focus its sports broadcasting on hockey and high performance, amateur, Olympic level sports. For years CBC has televised the Rogers Cup. While it is great to give it a high-profile, it is now the only tennis event on free TV in Canada. With all four Grand Slams on cable, I don’t think it would be a major loss to put it on Sportsnet or TSN. There is no reason a private broadcaster can’t show this event. The same goes for the Calgary Stampede, Spruce Meadows show jumping, the Canadian Women’s Open and the Queen’s Plate. CBC does Olympic sports better than anyone else. These events could air anywhere and get good TV coverage (and yes I know show jumping and golf are Olympic sports).

That would leave CBC with its winter sports, as well as Diamond League athletics. I think CBC should keep the Diamond League. Use the international commentary feed (great way to save money, by the way). Air it in a 1 or 2 hour block on Saturday or Sunday afternoon during the summer. It wouldn’t need very much production on the CBC end. There are events almost every week. It would make for great, cheap, summer sports programming.

Hockey Night in Canada is unaffected by the cuts. It is self-sufficient and actually makes money to fund other CBC programming. Having said that, there are ways it could cut its budget to create a higher surplus. I’d start by eliminating Don Cherry. They don’t have to fire him, just don’t re-new his contract. Nobody tunes into hockey for the intermission show. There’s no reason to spend so much money on a guy who is on TV for 5 minutes a week.

CBC would have to replace Don Cherry, of course. They have hired Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau and Carolina coach Kirk Muller as guest studio analysts during the playoffs. Both probably have long coaching careers ahead of them, but who knows. My choice, however, would be Bobby Holik. He speaks his mind, and as a relative unknown to broadcasting, he wouldn’t require top dollar.

I’ve always liked CBC’s sports offerings. But if these cuts have to happen to CBC Sports, I’d like to see amateur sports coverage remain intact at the expense of other events.

TSN playoff commentators… For those wondering which games TSN’s commentators will call, here it is. Gord Miller and Ray Ferraro will do all of Flyers-Penguins (there are no NBC simulcasts this year). They will also do game 3 of Panthers-Devils, games 4 and 6 of Coyotes-Blackhawks and game 5 of Sharks-Blues.

Chris Cuthbert and Mike Johnson are based on the west coast and will call games 1, 2, 3 and 5 of Blackhawks-Coyotes and games 3, 4 and 6 of Blues-Sharks.

TSN will use simulcasts for the other games. Get used to FS Florida’s Steve Goldstein and Bill Lindsay. Canadians will hear them three times in the first round. We will also get to see two of NBC’s cable broadcasts (commentators still to-be-confirmed).

NBC playoff commentators… NBC has remained tight-lipped about their playoff commentators. Neither Fang’s Bites or Puck the Media has reported anything as of this morning. Dave Strader & Brian Engblom will call the entire Predators-Red Wings series. Pierre McGuire will do all of the Penguins-Flyers series (presumably with Mike Emrick) and some (or most) of Bruins-Capitals. John Forslund and Brian Heyward will call Canucks-Kings in the US.

Canada Qualifies Swimmers for London This Week

Ryan Cochrane was Canada's lone swimming medallist in Beijing.

Canadians will get a little advance taste of the 2012 Olympic Games this week as the Canadian Olympic Swimming Trials take place Montreal. The swimming trials are the first major Canadian championship in 2012 to qualify athletes for the London Olympics. All of Canada’s top swimmers are in Montreal in hopes of making the team. The winner of each “A” final will automatically clinch a spot in London for that event. Canada can also qualify a second place finisher in each event, if they hit the pre-detirmined qualifying time.

Ryan Cochrane, the 1500m freestyle bronze medallist in Beijing, leads a strong group of Canadian swimmers into the trials. Cochrane won silver in the same event at the World Championships last year. He is also competing in the 400m freestyle.

Brent Hayden is among the other Canadians who have medal hopes in London. Hayden finished second at the World Championships in the 100m freestyle last year. He won gold at the same event in Melbourne at the 2007 World Championships.

Mike Brown is former World Championship silver medallist (2005 in Montreal) and Commonwealth Games gold medallist (2006 in Melbourne) in the 200m breaststroke. He competed in Beijing in the 100m and 200m breaststroke events. He set a Canadian record in the 200m final, finishing just out of the medals in fourth.

Martha McCabe was a surprise to win bronze at the 2011 World Championships in the 200m breaststroke. At 22 she is one of Canada’s up and coming stars in swimming. Annamay Pierse is also a force in the 200m breaststroke. She won silver at the 2009 World Championships in Rome and is the defending Olympic Trials champion from 2008. This is the marquee event at the 2012 Trials; the final is on Saturday night.

Audrey Lacroix is among the hometown favourites in Quebec. She won silver in the 200m butterfly at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Julia Wilkinson (who writes an excellent blog on CBC.ca) won two individual bronze medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. She will try to qualify in multiple disciplines this week.

Sportsnet and Radio- Canada will broadcast coverage of the 2012 Trials. Rob Faulds, who called swimming at the 1992 Olympics for CTV (and is calling rowing in London) will work play-by-play alongside CTV’s London 2012 swimming analyst Joanne Malar. Catriona Le May Doan will host the broadcasts and report poolside.

Here is Sportsnet’s broadcast schedule. There are repeats later in the evening on the various Sportsnet channels.

Tuesday March 27 from 7-8pm ET on One/East
Wednesday March 28 from 7-8pm ET on One/East/Ontario
Thursday March 29 from 7-8pm ET on One
Friday March 30 from 10-11pm ET on One
Saturday March 31 from 8-9pm ET on One (repeat at 9pm local on regional channels)
Sunday April 1 from 7-8pm ET on One/East/Ontario/Pacific