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Back to Back: Henderson repeats as Canadian Press female athlete of the year

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There was a quiet poise to Brooke Henderson on that Sunday morning last summer in Regina ahead of her final round at the CP Women’s Open.
She had experienced big moments before: her first LPGA Tour win as a 17-year-old in 2015, her first major vic…


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  • There was a quiet poise to Brooke Henderson on that Sunday morning last summer in Regina ahead of her final round at the CP Women’s Open.

    She had experienced big moments before: her first LPGA Tour win as a 17-year-old in 2015, her first major victory a year later, her first appearance at the Olympics.

    This tournament was different.

    No Canadian had won the national open since Jocelyne Bourassa in 1973. Supporters who crammed the galleries could sense something special was happening.

    Henderson would deliver in emphatic fashion, firing a closing-round 65 for a four-shot victory.

    “The 18th hole, standing on that green, surrounded by family and friends and hundreds of fans and spectators cheering me on — it was sort of a surreal moment,” Henderson said. “To finally hold that trophy that I’ve dreamed about since I was a little girl, it gives me chills just thinking back on it.”

    It was one of two tournament titles and 11 top-10 finishes for Henderson last season. On Wednesday, she was rewarded for her stellar campaign by being named a repeat winner of the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as The Canadian Press female athlete of the year.

    Henderson, who has won the award in three of the last four years, picked up 30 of 54 votes (55.6 per cent) in a poll of broadcasters and editors from across the country.

    “Especially this year being an Olympic year with all the great athletes that competed in the Winter Olympics, it’s a big honour and I’m just really proud to take home this award again,” Henderson said.

    Figure skater Kaetlyn Osmond and short-track speedskater Kim Boutin tied for second place with 10 votes each (18.5 per cent).

    The winner of the Lionel Conacher Award as Canada’s male athlete of the year will be named Thursday and the team of the year will be named Friday.

    With wet weather in the forecast, Henderson had an early start for her final round at the CP Women’s Open. Showing no sign of nerves or timidity, she lashed her opening drive down the fairway and birdied the hole for a two-stroke lead.

    Angel Yin, Sung Hyun Park, Su Oh and others tried to make charges that day but Henderson wouldn’t buckle. In fact, the Canadian found another gear.

    Henderson pulled away with four straight birdies on the back nine and tapped in a birdie putt on the 18th hole to send the crowd into a tizzy. Her seventh career LPGA Tour victory moved her one behind Sandra Post’s record for all-time wins by a Canadian.

    “The blinders were on,” Post said. “She was looking at the finish line and she just looked like it was hers. She wasn’t nervous. It was hers.”

    It was an emotional summer for Henderson and her family. Her maternal grandfather died in early June and her paternal grandfather died in early August.

    Henderson, from Smiths Falls, Ont., remained steady and consistent throughout the year. She won the Lotte Championship last April in Hawaii, earned US$1.47 million over the season and finished ninth in the world rankings.

    “Big performances on the biggest stage amongst stiff competition in one of the highest-profile sports in the world,” said Edmonton-based Postmedia editor Craig Ellingson.

    Henderson was fourth in scoring average (69.99) on the LPGA Tour, eighth in driving distance (268-yard average) and fourth in greens in regulation (74.5 per cent).

    Her short game statistics were middle of the pack. Henderson was 72nd in putting average (29.7 putts per round) and 87th in sand saves (43.7 per cent).

    “It’s easy to get down on yourself when things aren’t going perfectly,” Henderson said. “I feel like I stayed really patient through the majority of the year. When things were not very good, they always turned around. You just have to wait them out and I did that.

    “Even going into the CP Women’s Open, I was in contention a few times and wasn’t able to get the job done. But I feel like I learned from those experiences and then when I put myself in position in Regina, I wasn’t going to let it go that time. I was able to seal the deal.”

    Bobbie Rosenfeld, an Olympic medallist in track and field and a multi-sport athlete, was named Canada’s best female athlete of the half-century in 1950.

    The first winner of the Rosenfeld award was golfer Ada Mackenzie in 1933. Marlene Stewart Streit leads all golfers by taking the honour on five occasions (1952, ’53, ’56, ’57, ’63).

    ___

    Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter

    Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press


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    Alberta’s Parker Thompson in pole position in first of 2 weekend races! – details and link to live racing here

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  • Photos courtesy – RMAC Motorsports Photography

    Parker Thompson Teams Up with Speedstar Motorsport to Race the Canadian Touring Car Championship

    Parker Thompson has been enlisted by adventurous Canadian race team, Speedstar Motorsport (SSM), to pilot the #1 Audi R8 LMS GT4 race car in the Canadian Touring Car Championship GT Sport class. The season opens this weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park as part of the Castrol Victoria Day SpeedFest. Thompson will start race 1 from pole position after setting the fastest time of any CTCC entrant during Friday afternoon’s qualifying session.

    Speedstar Motorsport has a rich history in the Canadian Touring Car Championship. With connections that extend all around the world, the team has also participated in China Formula Grand Prix, the infamous Macau FIA GT World Cup and recently challenged the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.

    Parker Thompson

    “I want to express my gratitude to Albert Au and Frank Law of Speedstar Motorsport, and Michael Croxon at New Roads Automotive Group for this opportunity. I have a lot of respect for what they have accomplished in racing and look forward to building a relationship with their team. It is a dream of mine to get behind the wheel of an Audi GT car.  I’m excited about my future with the team and manufacturer as I put my mark on sportscar GT racing.”

    Frank Law – SSM Project Director

    “We are thrilled to have Parker joining us for the 2019 CTCC season. We’ve been very keen and have been following Parker throughout his outstanding open-wheel racing career. Ever since our initial conference with Parker, we have been very enthusiastic about the prospect of having him join our team. We have heard great passion from Parker about our team accomplishments and future goals. Additionally, partnering with Parker is in line with our team vision to develop young, talented Canadian drivers within the GT car family. Great to welcome Parker, and have him represent our team, sponsors and manufacturer!”

    ADDITIONAL RESOURCES AND LINKS

    Speedstar Motorsport – https://speedstar.com/motorsport/
    Canadian Touring Car Championship – https://touringcar.ca
    Castrol Victoria Day SpeedFest  – Full Event Schedule (PDF)

    CTCC Event One Schedule at Castrol Victoria Day SpeedFest

    Race 1– Saturday May 18th, 2019, 08:00 – 08:40 EST – LIVE STREAM HERE
    Qualifying 2 – Sunday May 19th, 2019, 09:00 – 09:30 EST
    *Race 2– Sunday May 19th, 2019, 17:35 – 18:15 EST – 
    LIVE STREAM HERE


    About Parker Thompson

    Red Deer, Alberta native Parker Thompson is regarded as one of Canada’s premiere racing drivers. He started racing karts at age 8 and his natural talent and competitive drive quickly elevated him to international level competitions. By age 13 he was ranked 3rd in the world in Rotax Max karts. Now 21 years old, Parker continues his successful career racing on the Road to Indy, and in multiple sports car series.

    About SpeedStar Motorsport (SSM)

    Based out of Markham, Ontario, Speedstar Motorsport has a background in motorsports that dates back to 2006. The team has a winning history in the Canadian Touring Car Championship, Porsche GT3 Cup,  China Formula Grand Prix and Macau FIA World Cup. SSM recently partnered with Belgium based WRT to contend in the Rolex 24hrs of Daytona. The team took their Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo to a 3rd place finish in GTD.


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    The hardest choice of this long weekend: Raptors or ‘Game of Thrones’?

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    TORONTO — As a “Game of Thrones” fanatic who is also a devoted Toronto Raptors fan, Oriana Di Nucci finds herself weighing the pros and cons of what to watch this Sunday when the fantasy saga concludes at the same time her beloved team h…


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  • TORONTO — As a “Game of Thrones” fanatic who is also a devoted Toronto Raptors fan, Oriana Di Nucci finds herself weighing the pros and cons of what to watch this Sunday when the fantasy saga concludes at the same time her beloved team hosts its first home game of the NBA Eastern Conference final.

    Despite the ubiquity of on-demand viewing, watching event programming live on a traditional television is still the preferred mode to experience mammoth meme-able moments, says the pop culture junkie. But she is still kicking herself for switching to “Game of Thrones” last Sunday just before Kawhi Leonard scored an astonishing buzzer-beater in Game 7 of the playoffs’ second round.

    This Sunday will feature a similar double-draw, when the most critical moments of the Raptors’ Game 3 will almost certainly overlap with the first half-hour or so of the “Game of Thrones” 80-minute finale.

    But Game 3 is a much different proposition than a deciding Game 7, says Di Nucci, who will risk missing another Raptor moment to watch “Game of Thrones” live with her family.

    “I’m really bad at accidentally spoiling things a lot. It’s not good for me and my friends who hadn’t watched it yet,” she explains, expecting both social media and traditional media to be awash with GoT details Sunday night and Monday morning.

    Despite pronouncements that event television is dead, Di Nucci believes the fear-of-missing-out drives many to the tube, often with friends and family in tow.

    And anyway, the advent of time-shifting and on-demand viewing has addressed remote control battles that would have split family viewing just a few years ago, adds sports fan Keith Morris.

    “I’m in my thirties and I remember back then Dad would have been downstairs watching the game and somebody else that was into the show would have been upstairs,” he says, noting screens are also more likely to run simultaneously in the same room.

    “But now with technology you can kind of do it all.”

    This Sunday, Morris will be at his friend’s condo with about 10 others for what’s primarily considered a GoT finale party. But the game will be on, and he expects most guests to trickle in during the second quarter.

    It’ll be especially hard to avoid Raptors fever when they return home Sunday, even with a “Game of Thrones” finale, he predicts.

    “The city is definitely on fire. We have a chance this year,” says the Missouri-born Morris, also devoted to watching the St. Louis Blues chase the NHL’s Stanley Cup.

    Raptors fan Heba Habib of Pickering, Ont., says the choice isn’t hard for her, since Crave makes “Game of Thrones” available as soon as it airs on HBO at 9 p.m. ET. Generally speaking, she ignores linear broadcast.

    “I’ve never really watched television live. I normally watch on-demand, or I watch whenever I have the time. It’s only live games that I normally watch (live),” says Habib, who’ll join a dozen friends to watch Sunday’s game, followed by “Game of Thrones.”

    She says her parents will stay home to focus on the game. 

    Indeed, the proliferation of mass media has actually made the notion of mass consumption less and less the reality, says York University film professor John McCullough.

    “That’s the contradictory thing,” he chuckles. “It seems we have more mass media at our disposal nowadays but in fact the way that mass media (and) content is produced is actually (encouraging) fragmented audiences.”

    That was certainly the case last week for Di Nucci, who watched the Raptors with her sister and parents on the living room TV until she and her father commandeered the set for “Game of Thrones.”

    Her mom and sister were relegated to an upstairs bedroom to finish the game between the Raptors and visiting Philadelphia 76ers. Di Nucci soon realized that was a mistake “based on their yelling and running around.”

    “The timing was not great, right? sighs the 21-year-old.

    “I wish I saw Kawhi’s last shot live. I wish I saw it in the moment, but it happens. It happens. I’ll be there for the next one. I’ll be there for the next big win.”

    Bell Media says “Game of Thrones” has been averaging 2.5 million viewers each week in its Sunday 9 p.m. ET time slot, with no indication that fans delayed viewing habits for the Raptors.

    Sportsnet says last Sunday’s Game 7 attracted an average audience of 2.2 million viewers, a big jump over a typical game. A peak audience of 3.8 million tuned in to catch Leonard’s buzzer-beater.

    If Di Nucci had another screen available at the time, she expects she would have caught Leonard’s shot but she was using her phone to text a friend during “Game of Thrones,” which was being streamed to the television via her laptop.

    There’s no escaping spoilers when a popular entertainment juggernaut captivates social media, says Meg Wheeler of Toronto. For that reason, “Game of Thrones” trumps all viewing, and did so last Sunday when she convinced her partner to switch from Game 7 to watch the series live.

    “We are both so active on Twitter that we know it’ll get spoiled if we don’t watch it live,” says the 28-year-old, admitting to some regret for missing Leonard’s shot.

    “I don’t feel it was that big of a deal — I’ve seen it now so many times replayed — but there is something special about seeing it happen live. It’s one of those things where you would remember where you were when it happened.”

    Habib, meanwhile, has worked out key house rules for watching a delayed “Game of Thrones”: “Nobody can go on social media.”

    “We’re good. As long as it’s not a blowout, we will always watch Raptors first,” she says.

    Being respectful is key, adds Morris, citing past experience in asserting the difficulty of reading online leaks without spoiling the fun for others.

    “If they’re searching through Twitter or people are live tweeting and they’re reading it and they’re getting spoiled, you can kind of read on their face what’s going on,” he says.

    “That’s when we decided to say: ‘Everyone put your phones on the table and turn them over and for 20 minutes let’s just watch the rest of this game and be present in this Toronto moment.'”

    Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press


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