Hockey - Canada's Best Sport on Ice
We start off with the most hard fought rivalry and controversial choice when it comes to the best Canadian sports where the country has the edge over the United States. Both countries are very into ice hockey, and once the Cold War was over and the Soviet Union was gone as the major international sporting rival, Canada and the USA looked to one another as the big beast to beat. Both contribute teams and the vast majority of players to the National Hockey league (NHL).
Speaking of which, many of the greatest players in NHL history are Canadian and include The Great One who is arguably the most well known Canadian champion. Bearing in mind the different population sizes (roughly 38 million in Canada versus 331 million in the United States) the fact that both countries are into hockey yet Canada is better is a serious feather in the northern nation's sporting cap. Wayne Gretzky is widely considered the greatest ever hockey player, having scored more than 200 points in a season on four occasions (nobody else has done it even once) and amassing a laundry list of records. Gretzky is, of course, Canadian. One of his few competitors for the title of greatest ever hockey player is the talented (but sadly injury-prone) Mario Lemieux, also a Canadian powerhouse. In both the 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympics the two national teams battled it out for gold. And who won both times? Canada. In 2002, Salt Lake City hosted the Winter Olympics. It was also a Canada-USA final, and the northern nation took the triumph that time too. It's the fiercest rivalry on this list but, sadly for Americans, Canada has the edge and then some. Not bad for a country with a population nearly 300m smaller than the USA.
The Petrolhead Pendulum Swings Canada's Way
Formula 1 is the top tier motorsport in the world, and the Monaco Grand Prix is one part of the fabled motorsport Triple Crown (the others being the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans). In the past, the United States might claim a better (more distant) history, but ever since Quebec native Gilles Villeneuve appeared on the scene the momentum started to shift. Nowadays, there isn't even a single driver from the USA on the grid, and the last time there was Alexander Rossi participated in just five races in 2015.
It wasn't always this way. The United States has furnished a pair of world champions, with Phil Hill taking the title in 1961 and the talented (Italian-born but racing under the Stars and Stripes) Mario Andretti taking the 1978 title. But it was around that time (1977) that Gilles Villeneuve started his illustrious, though tragically curtailed, career. The Americans had started to fade, and the Canadians had started to shine.
Villeneuve drove for two of the sport's most enduring names, McLaren and Ferrari, claiming his first race win in 1978. The following year he came 2nd, just four points behind Jody Schekter. In 1982 he died at the age of 32 following a collision with Jochen Mass. But that wasn't the end of the Villeneuve name. Jacques Villeneuve (son of Gilles), had a strangely short but highly successful career, competing in 33 races (winning 11 and scoring 23 podium finishes) in just two seasons and becoming the first Canadian to win the driver's title. Right now there's no American racing, but Lance Stroll represents Canada for the Aston Martin team, and in 2017 became the second youngest rookie to finish on the podium.
Chess on Ice - Canada's Second Best Sport on Ice
In much the same way as Britain tends to be good at sitting down sports (cycling, rowing, sailing) it's not too surprising to find another of the best Canadian sports is on the ice. Curling is not the most widespread of international sporting contests but it's been rising in popularity ever since its return to the Winter Olympics after a hiatus from 1924 to its reintroduction in 1998. Competitors under 14 different flags have claimed medals in the women's competition, and 16 separate nations have won at least a single bronze, silver, or gold medal for the men. The mixed doubles have only been held on one occasion, and Canada took the gold, beating Switzerland to Olympic glory (Norway got bronze, with the USA finishing a respectable 6th).
On the women's side of the game Canada have achieved a medal-winning position in five of the six competitions, a number matched only by Sweden (who have three golds to Canada's two). The United States, during this time, have competed every year but have yet to score a medal, coming 4th on one occasion. The men's game is a little closer (in fact, the USA took gold last time out in 2018 and Canada could only manage 4th. However, in the six modern Winter Olympics that hosted curling, Canada has won a medal every other time, with three golds and two silvers making them easily the most successful team in the world (America racked up one gold and one bronze during that time).
A Popular Canadian Collision Sport
Some sports can be rough and tumble, but rugby union is perhaps the best Canadian sport to bet on for those spectators who really enjoy physical collisions between powerhouse players. It's certainly got a large worldwide audience of both spectators and sports bettors. Somewhat akin to American football, there are certain key differences (not least no forward passing and the lack of protective gear). It's also much more competitive than gridiron on the international stage, being a major sport in England, Ireland, France, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, and other countries. The popularity of American football in Canada and the United States has made rugby less widespread than it might historically have been but in recent years, like soccer, it's rising up the sporting agenda.
Fifteen players comprise each side, with the goal being to score tries (touchdowns), with penalties and drop goals offering fewer points. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Canada has played more rugby matches against the United States than any other country. Of 63 contests between the two sides, Canada is undoubtedly in charge, with 38 wins and a pair of draws (although the USA has become more competitive of late).
The highlight of the rugby calendar is undoubtedly the World Cup, which brings together the top dogs of the sport from the Six Nations tournament in Europe and the Rugby Championship of the Southern Hemisphere, and other teams from North America, Africa, Asia, and Pacific island nations. Canada is usually on the edge of being just in or just out at the conclusion of the pool stage, although the increase in group sizes has made things more difficult. Historic wins over the years have included beating major sides Argentina, England, France, Italy, and Wales.
The Best Sport you can Play at the Pub
Snooker is a slightly odd sport, in that it's identical in gameplay terms to pool, which makes it far more accessible than many other games on this list, and yet it remains absolutely dominated by players from the British Isles, with only occasional forays from the Chinese, Australians, and Canadians. Even so you'll still be able to place snooker bets on leading sportsbooks like Sports Interaction Casino. However, Canada is a league ahead of the USA when it comes to significant milestones in snooker, with a number of big name players from the 1980s heyday of the sport.
Kirk Stevens is a name many remember thanks to his epic 147 break in 1984, a perfect maximum break achieved during the Masters tournament when playing against the legend Jimmy White. Stevens was racking up century breaks at the age of 12, and in his professional career reached the semis of the World Championship twice, making the quarters on three occasions.
Cliff Thorburn was never the fastest player (he wasn't nicknamed The Grinder for nothing) but he is the most successful Canadian snooker player ever and one of very few non-British world champions (just three in the last 50 years). In 1980 Thorburn bested Alex Higgins in a close-fought final 18-16 to become the first world champion in the modern era not from the United Kingdom. Thorburn was also the first man to record a 147 break in the World Championship, and won 20 tournaments during his career.
Willow Wizards of Canada
Cricket is an ancient game of genteel good manners (excepting sledging, whereby members of opposing teams try to psychologically destroy one another with quiet verbal asides) that is quintessentially English. Which makes it a peculiarity of history that the first international, not only of cricket but of any sport, was held between the Canadian and American cricket teams in 1844 in New York City (an annual fixture now known as the Auty Cup). Cricket isn't top of Canada's sporting agenda and sadly there aren't even many cricket-themed free slot machines to play, but there is the longest standing rivalry in the sporting world with the United States, making this one of the best Canadian sports in terms of one-upping their southern neighbor.
When it comes to a direct comparison between America and Canada on the international stage, it's embarrassingly one-sided. Since 2000, Canada has dominated the ICC Americas Championship, winning it on four out of seven occasions (the other results being two 3rd places and 2nd). The United States isn't too bad, but with two wins and three 2nd places is clearly a step behind Canada. Similarly, America has only participated in the Intercontinental Cup once, reaching the first round in 2004, but in the same year Canada were runners up (a feat repeated two years later). In direct competition, the two sides have met in T20 contests twice and Canada won both times.
The Best Canadian Downhill Sport
Although other types of skiing have been around for a century or so (including alpine and cross-country, as well as ski jumping), freestyle is altogether newer to the Olympic Games. Freestyle skiing has been a regular event at the Winter Olympics since 1992, and one nation has dominated the medal table: Canada. To be fair to the United States, they are right behind, and both countries actually have the same number of medals in total (25 apiece). But Canada has 12 golds to America's nine and is very much top dog when it comes to freestyle skiing (as an aside, the two countries together have almost half of the 44 gold medals that have been available from 1992 to 2018).
Five Canadians have won two medals in freestyle skiing, more than any other nation, with Alexandre Bilodeau of Quebec being one of only two skiers (the other being David Wise of the USA) to bag himself a brace of gold medals. At the 2014 Sochi Games Bilodeau became the first man to defend his Olympic title in the men's moguls category, as well as the first skier to become a two-time freestyle gold medallist. In addition to moguls, freestyle skiing includes aerials, ski cross, halfpipe and slopestyle categories.
There we have it, a wide variety of the best sports that Canada excels at. From the downhill drama of skiing to the civilized game of snooker, high impact sports hockey and rugby to the strategic skill of curling, there are plenty of sports at which Canada is simply better than the United States.