Sports prodigies to watch this month and next
Who to watch, and why, in soccer, hockey, tennis, and more
Roger Federer has retired. Ronaldo is no longer nearly as good as he thinks he is. And Tom Brady's play suggests that his decision to un-retire was a wobbly pass into double coverage.
Age is an insurmountable obstacle in sport. But for each aging star, there's a ridiculously talented newcomer springing onto the scene. And this month, the new generation is very much in the limelight.
Here's a look at the young guns you should know, and where you can find them, on TV. And when you sit down in front of the TV or your laptop to watch sports this winter, resist the temptation to crank up the heat. Grab a sweater and slippers, or get cozy beneath a blanket. It will pay off in lower energy bills.
Did you know? Using a tablet is the most energy-efficient way to watch streaming content. Laptops use twice as much power, LED TVs need 11 times the power, and a game console and TV combination is the biggest energy hog at 51 times more energy use than a tablet.
Canada's Alphonso Davies just celebrated his 22nd birthday, and in his vapour trail is a slew of emerging 21-and-under superstars who all happen to play on national teams capable of going deep into the World Cup in Qatar this month.
England is blessed with two on this list, and both could start for one of the stronger teams in the World Cup. Jude Bellingham, 19, is a powerful, skilled midfielder who's the best player on German club team Borussia Dortmund. Arsenal went into the World Cup break at the top of the English Premier League standings, and Bukayo Saka, 21 – a mercurial winger/midfielder – is a big reason why.
Defending World Cup champions France lost two veteran midfielders to injury, opening the door for Real Madrid's Eduardo Camavinga, who just turned 20 last month, to play a prominent role.
Germany is never too far out of the mix at the World Cup and Bayern Munich's midfielder Jamal Musiala, is a starter for the Germans at age 19. Arsenal forward Gabriel Martinelli may find it tougher to get playing time on Brazil's star-studded squad, but look for him to dazzle when he gets the chance.
Meanwhile on the rebuilding Spanish team, 36-year-old centre back Sergio Ramos was left off the team. Instead, they have three under-21 stars who all play club football with Barcelona: midfielders Gavi and Pedri, both 19, and forward Ansu Fati, 20.
Where and when to watch: All available on TSN, the World Cup of Soccer's quarter-finals are set for 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. on December 9 and 10. Semifinals go December 13 and 14 at 11 a.m., and the final is set for December 18 at 7 a.m.
Even with Russia and high-scoring winger Matvei Michkov on the sidelines for the World Junior Hockey Championship that kicks off on Boxing Day, this is a star-studded tournament filled with can't-miss future NHL talent.
Canada has an embarrassment of riches up front, even if Anaheim Ducks' 19-year-old centre Mason McTavish doesn't return. Connor Bedard and Adam Fantilli – who could be the top two picks in the 2023 NHL entry draft – both have NHL superstar potential. They could possibly play on a top line for Canada with Kamloops Blazers star Logan Stankoven, who was named Canadian junior hockey's player of the year last season.
In case you haven't heard about Bedard, he's been lighting it up against much older players throughout his teens, and at 17, is operating at a two-points-per-game pace (and threatening to run away with the Western Hockey League scoring title) playing for the Regina Pats.
U.S. hockey fans have reason to be plenty excited too, as nine players from their 2022 junior team are eligible to return. At the top of the list are defenceman Luke Hughes, 19, the other younger brother of Vancouver Canucks' star Quinn Hughes, and Logan Cooley, 18, picked third overall by the Arizona Coyotes in the 2022 NHL entry draft.
Where and when to watch: All available on TSN, preliminary round games at the 2023 World Junior Hockey Championship in Moncton and Halifax start December 26 and wind up with the gold medal game on January 5.
High schoolers are no stranger to World Cup and Olympic snowboarding. At the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, Japan's Kokomo Yurase surprised with a bronze in the women's big air event. And now – at just 18 – she's on the World Cup circuit with her 15-year-old sister Yura.
Great Britain's Mia Brookes is another teenager to watch. She finished second in her first senior slopestyle event at the age of 13 in 2020, and now has a World Junior Big Air title under her belt.
Meanwhile on the men's side, former child actor Yiming Su of China, 18, won big air gold and slopestyle silver at Beijing. Watch for him lining up against his idol, Canadian veteran superstar Mark McMorris, on the World Cup circuit.
And then there's Japan's Hiroto Igiwara, who at 16, became the first person to ever land a backside 2160 – that's a jump with six full rotations – at an event last April.
Where and when to watch: The World Cup snowboard circuit hits Edmonton as the Alberta city holds the first ever World Cup event in a stadium, December 9-10. If you're not lucky enough to see it in person, you can watch the Edmonton event on the CBC, which also airs snowboard World Cup events on Saturday, December 17.
If you've never seen Spain's Carlos Alcaraz play, it's time. A swift-footed fighter, he's all over the court, playing three five-set marathons to reach the US Open final and beat Norway's Caspar Ruud for the title. He's the world's No. 1 player at just 19.
We won't see the much anticipated rematch between Alcaraz and Canada's red-hot 22-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime for awhile, as neither will be playing in the inaugural United Cup team event in Australia that starts December 29. During a crazy streak of three straight titles, Auger-Aliassime upset the Spaniard 6-3, 6-2 en route to the Swiss Indoors title in late October. The Canadian then helped his country to its first David Cup world team championship at the end of November.
We will soon see the No. 1 ranked women's player, 21-year-old Iga Swiatek, who will be at the United Cup playing for Poland. For many others, we'll need to wait until the Australian Open.
Where and when to watch: The inaugural United Cup in Australia runs December 29 through January 8. It's a warmup for the Australian Open, which runs January 16 to 29, and will be broadcast on TSN.
Three great young quarterbacks, three Heisman Trophy candidates vying for top player in U.S. college football honours.
Caleb Williams does it all for a team that needs to score a lot because their defence isn't great. In his first 12 games with the Trojans, he threw for over 3,700 yards and 34 touchdowns, and ran for another 10 TDs.
Drake Maye is the freshman underdog, who plays for a North Carolina Tar Heels team that gets little respect in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Tar Heels' recent loss to Georgia Tech may have killed Maye's chances of winning the Heisman Trophy, but the 20-year-old's 3,400 yards and 34 touchdowns, plus 584 rushing yards, in his first 10 games are superstar numbers.
C.J. Stroud was a Heisman finalist last year and was sporting an 11-0 record in 2022 before his No. 2-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes lost to the Michigan Wolverines. Yes, he's surrounded by star receivers and he's the eldest of the three on this list at 21, but 35 touchdowns (and just four interceptions) through 11 games in a tough conference is heady stuff.
Where and when to watch: Stroud's loss to the Wolverines probably cost him and the Buckeyes a spot in in the Fiesta Bowl – one of two national championship semifinals – on December 31. He's now likely to be in the Rose Bowl on January 2. Williams and USC should be in the other national semi-final, the Peach Bowl. Maye could get his chance to strut his stuff if the Tar Heels are selected for the Holiday Bowl, possibly against Oregon, on December 28. You should be able to find all these big Bowl games on network TV.