Ice hockey is widely considered to be the most popular sport in Canada, having been named an official national sport. The National Hockey League (NHL) is the Canadian ice hockey league, established in both Canada and the United States. There are currently seven teams playing in the NHL from Canada, including Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa and Winnipeg. Canadians enjoy a variety of sports, with some of the most popular being ice hockey, lacrosse, Canadian football, baseball, cricket, soccer, tennis, rugby, basketball and curling.
These include winter sports such as alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, figure skating, freestyle skiing, snowboarding, speed skating, ringette and biathlon. Baseball has been played in Canada since its inception and is one of the most popular sports in the country. It is ranked 41st in the world for its popularity. The governing body of rugby in Canada is Rugby Canada.
They have replaced their previous national competition - the Canadian Rugby Super League - with a new national under-20 league called the Rugby Canada National Junior Championship. There are also several new genres of this sport that have become popular in Canada such as slopestyle competition, four cross, alpine mountain biking, dirt jumping and freeriding. Ice hockey has been around since the late 19th century and is widely considered Canada's national pastime. It has high levels of participation from boys, men and women at various levels of competition.
Canadians value sporting competitions not only for fun but also as a way to encourage unity within the country. The Canadian Hockey League (CHL) is a popular league for male hockey players aged 15 to 20. In practice it serves as the main development league for the professional National Hockey League (NHL). The CHL teams offer financial support to players who choose to play U Sports hockey after leaving the CHL.
Sports are an important part of life in Canada and its supporters are among the most dedicated in North America. This is true for all sports including hockey, soccer and football. The Canada Games have played a major role in developing some of Canada's best athletes such as Lennox Lewis, Catriona Le May Doan, Hayley Wickenheiser, Sidney Crosby, Martin Brodeur, Steve Nash, Suzanne Gaudet and David Ling. Curling is another popular sport in Canada with several teams based in Alberta and Manitoba.
Hockey Canada is the official governing body of sport in Canada and is a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). The Vanier Cup is the American football championship U Sports - the Canadian post-secondary football league. The Stanley Cup - considered to be the main trophy in professional ice hockey - originated in Canada in 1893.