OTTAWA AT THE
VOL. 3 NO. 5
SOCHI 2014 SPECIAL EDITION
2013 CELEBRATING THE FINEST IN AMATEUR SPORT IN OTTAWA
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Age: 27 Local Club: Ottawa Lions T&F # Olympics: First Medal threat:
CODY SORENSEN BOBSLEIGH
Sat., Feb. 22 Four-man Heat 1 11:30 a.m. ET Four-man Heat 2 1 p.m.
Delay getting real-world job worth the ride for Sorensen
world entering the Olympics and have earned Canada’s top results this year despite it being their first campaign together. “I can guarantee we’ll be buds for the rest of our lives,” says Sorensen, who will also have Spring’s girlfriend, Stittsville wrestler Erica Wiebe, in their Sochi cheering section. “You need to want to win for the other guys in the sled,” adds the Glebe Collegiate Institute grad. “Otherwise I think that motivation and drive would be lacking.”
By Dan Plouffe He’d just finished university. He was an excellent hurdler for the Guelph Gryphons – a two-time All-Canadian – but he wasn’t quite world-class. He’d completed a business degree in industry and finance. “There’s always pressure for a guy, especially at my age, to find a job and settle down and buy a house,” recounts Cody Sorensen. Often times, that pressure comes from parents (like the father in Cool Runnings). But for Sorensen, it was essentially the opposite effect. His father was a wrestler at the 1972 Olympics, and his mother carried a phys ed degree and was actively involved in sport for many years as well. “That was the biggest influence that they’ve had,” signals Sorensen, who always felt an Olympic spirit present in his household. “That truly helped me not be too overwhelmed by the thought of putting off a real job for a few years.” So instead of sending out his resume, Sorensen showed up at a Bobsleigh Canada evaluation camp, and in a short period of time, he became devoted to a sport where each trip down in an icy chute in a metal fuselage “feels like you’re in a car accident for a minute – on a good run” and “you’re living the lifestyle of the
BUILDS OFF VANCOUVER HEARTBREAK
A member of the Canada-1 sled since 2011, Cody Sorensen (left) will make his Games debut in Sochi.
rich and the rich and the famous, while making $18,000 a year.” The lavish feel comes from the resort towns where most bobsled tracks are located, while the salary comes from Sport Canada athlete assistance carding money (although his fortunes have improved thanks to increased sponsorship with the Olympics on tap). “In my hotel in St. Moritz, I’ve got a view of the Swiss Alps in the background, and there’s guys riding horses on the lake right now,”
Congratulations to all our Ottawa athletes set to compete in the Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games! We are very proud to see you represent your city and country on the biggest stage in your sports. Mayor Jim Watson and Kitchissippi Ward Councillor Katherine Hobbs are seen here signing a Canadian Olympic flag with students from St. George Catholic School. In total, the flag was signed by students from 4 schools across Ottawa before being sent to the Canadian team in Sochi, Russia.
3-1-1 (24h) 613-580-2496 firstname.lastname@example.org jimwatsonottawa.ca @JimWatsonOttawa
Sun., Feb. 23 Four-man Heat 3 4:30 a.m. Four-man Heat 4 6 a.m.
You’ve inspired all of us in our great city, in particular the next generation of aspiring athletes, to reach for their best. Thank you and GO CANADA GO!
photo: cheryl plouffe
MESSAGE TO ASPIRING OLYMPIANS: “Find your passion, stick to it, and don’t stop working until you reach your dreams and hit your goals. If you do that, you’ll eventually learn to either make money doing it, or it will bring you endless happiness, and that’s exactly what bobsleigh’s done for me the last couple of years.” Sorensen describes. “This is my office window.” The Ottawa native may not have got bobsledder genes from his parents – father Ole wrestled at 150 lbs.; Cody’s now managed to bulk his naturally lean frame up to around 220 – but full support in his quest was always there. “You’re not wasting time doing that,” emphasizes Ole Sorensen, who almost cried when he heard Cody had made the Olympics team, “and wrestlers don’t cry much.” “At some point, you’ve probably got to decide to get a degree and a job, but don’t rush it,” adds Ole, who made a career at Sport Canada. “I’ve always said, ‘Enjoy it. Have a blast. It’ll be the best memories of your life, and you’ll have friendships for life.’” Sorensen believes that a strong bond is behind the success of his Team Spring crew of pilot Chris Spring, and push-men Ben Coakwell and Jesse Lumsden, who are ranked fifth in the
Sorensen kept his drive alive despite missing out of an opportunity to race at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics by a very slim margin. “Initially, I was pretty upset,” Sorensen reflects. “When I look back now, I can say with a certain amount of honesty that I wasn’t ready to perform at a world-class level. I wasn’t an athlete who could compete against the best guys in the world. “Now it’s four years later. I think our team is without a doubt one of the best in the world right now, and we’re going to be disappointed if we’re not on the podium.” Sorensen’s moment at the Olympics could be all that more precious since it’s a strong possibility this may be his last season as a bobsledder. The 27-year-old was recently hired as an RBC Olympian to become part of the bank’s program that sends athlete ambassadors to share inspirational messages with communities across the country, while also providing them with skills to pursue careers after sport. “I think I will take a couple years off from sport to kind of make up for lost time,” says the sixth-year national team bobsledder. “I’ve committed a lot of years and a lot of heart and passion to this sport. I don’t want to just fizzle out – I’d like to go out with somewhat of a bang this year. If that can happen in Sochi, that’d be icing on the cake.”
CODY SORENSEN OLYMPIC PODCAST
Visit riseathlete.com starting on Feb. 7 and throughout the Olympics to hear a six-episode podcast on Cody Sorensen. Structured as a personal diary, Sorensen provides insights for rising athletes on the importance of a high-performance athlete’s support network and preparation process.
IVANIE BLONDIN SPEED SKATING
Age: 23 Local Club: Gloucester Concordes # Olympics: First Medal threat:
Sun., Feb. 9 Fri., Feb. 21 Sat., Feb. 22 3,000 m Team Team Pur6:30 a.m. ET Pursuit suit Semis & Wed., Feb. 19 QuarterFinals 5,000 m Finals 8:30 a.m. & 8:30 a.m. 9:23 a.m. 9:14 a.m.
Rocky road strengthens Blondin on Olympic journey
ti-Olympic medalists Cindy Klassen, Clara Hughes and Ottawa’s Kristina Groves. But the next year was “a write-off” as a prolonged bout of mononucleosis and a knee injury beat her down.
By Dan Plouffe Before that moment, she was just that little girl skating with the big guys, jumping on their backs, known as a tiny horseplay queen. But then the name of 14-year-old Ivanie Blondin suddenly blasted far beyond the walls of the Orléans Rec Centre and onto the Canadian speed skating radar in a big way. “Qualifying for junior worlds at 14 was pretty amazing,” reflects Blondin, now 23 and set to compete in her first Olympic Games. “When people ask me what I was most proud of, I tell them it’s that. “It was on my home rink in Gloucester. I was the underdog. And I had no idea what I had just accomplished when I stepped off the ice for my last race. I won the competition and I was going to (the under-19) junior worlds. “And I guess I kind of realized that maybe shooting for the Olympics isn’t a complete dream.” The journey to get to the Games wound up being nowhere as swift, but the underdog tag is a role the Gloucester Concordes athlete has learned to embrace. The year after her big feat, Blondin missed qualifying for the World Junior Short-Track Speed Skating Championships. She returned
EMERGING AS WORLD-CLASS TALENT
photo: dave holland
to that international stage the next year, but the road got quite rocky when the Garneau high school student moved away to train at the national short-track centre in Montreal. Going into the province where the sport was born and strong ownership feelings exist wasn’t easy. There was homesickness, five concussions in three years, and visits to the hospital to test if she had breast cancer. And that was before Blondin learned only one Canadian specializing in the longer
Congratulations to Ivanie Blondin & Vincent De Haitre on qualifying for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games! We are very proud of these two long-time members of the Gloucester Concordes Speed Skating Club, a great organization driven by dedicated volunteers who help make our east-end community such a wonderful place.
Good luck also to former Ottawa resident and Colonel By Secondary School grad Dawn McEwen on your quest for gold with the Canadian Olympic Curling Team! Best wishes to all in Sochi! Go Canada Go! Your East End City Councillors
Rainer Bloess City Councillor Quartier Innes Ward (613) 580-2472 Rainer.Bloess@ottawa.ca www.rainerbloess.com
Tim Tierney City Councillor Quartier Beacon Hill-Cyrville Ward (613) 580-2481 Tim.Tierney@ottawa.ca beaconhillcyrville.ca
MESSAGE TO ASPIRING OLYMPIANS: “It’s from the Rocky movie: ‘It ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.’ It’s kind of a quote that I live by.” 1,500-metre race would be chosen for the Vancouver Olympics, and that wouldn’t be her. “It was absolute crap living in Montreal and I feel like I was dragged through shit really,” says the athlete who competed in both world junior short-track and long-track championships. “But I feel like I learned so much from it that it made me a stronger person. “It wasn’t just given to me. I had to work hard to get where I am, and I’m really proud.”
SWITCH TO LONG-TRACK REJUVENATES Blondin came back home in 2010 and was contemplating leaving the sport, but instead elected to move to Calgary and the Olympic Oval to pursue long-track. “Changing the whole scene and being with a new training group, it was like a breath of fresh air,” she recalls. “I knew that it was over and I knew I could keep going.” Blondin enjoyed a good first season as she learned the ropes alongside the likes of mul-
The next season, 2012-13, Blondin made her mark on the World Cup circuit, winning a gold medal, two silver and a bronze in team pursuit events, and two silver in mass start races, along with an eighth-place World Championships 5,000 metres finish in Sochi. It was a tough go early this season as Blondin was demoted to the World Cup ‘B’ group at one point before posting a 12th-place finish in Berlin on Dec. 6 and then surviving the Canadian Olympic team trials to claim her trip to Sochi by fractions of a second in the 3,000 m and 5,000 m. “I remember Kristina Groves saying this and actually drawing it on a blackboard – sometimes people only see you at the top, but what happens before that is a line going up, and then a scramble of spaghetti in the middle, and then you’re at the top,” Blondin explains. “I feel like I’m still in that scramble and I haven’t reached my whole potential yet. There are ups and downs. It’s not always going up. You do have setback sometimes. Those things happen. “I have gone through quite a lot of setbacks in my whole career. But even though I have those setbacks, and sometimes it seems like I’m going backwards, really I just keep moving forward. I end up getting through those and getting higher.” Now retired, Groves was nonetheless at the January announcement officially unveiling the Canadian speed skating team in Calgary and sat next to Blondin – Ottawa’s most decorated Olympian of all-time side-by-side with the steadily rising up-and-comer accepting her first Canadian Olympic team jacket. “It was cool to have her there,” Blondin signals. “I feel like she’s still part of the team.” While she’s long drawn inspiration from Groves, Blondin doesn’t expect to win a pile of medals on her own at her Olympic debut. BLONDIN continues on p.10
‘Who’s got the bigger butt?’ Concordes Olympic pals debate
Bob Monette City Councillor Quartier Orléans Ward (613) 580-2471 Bob.Monette@ottawa.ca www.bobmonette.ca
It’s tough to pinpoint precisely what makes an Olympic-calibre athlete stand out above the rest, but when coach Dave Morrison reflects on the rise of the two Gloucester Concordes set to make their Olympic debuts, a tremendous love for sport is the trait he believes sticks out for both Ivanie Blondin and Vincent De Haitre. When the speed skating season wraps up, Morrison counsels his youngest athletes to simply stay active in any sport during the summer. Some follow the advice, some
don’t, and some take it to another level. “Ivanie would put on her inline skates and just go for miles and miles and miles,” Morrison recalls. “It’s that kind of nervous energy that she’s got to burn off that means she can now skate the 3,000 and 5,000, because she did that many, many years ago.” For Cumberland native De Haitre, there was little other option but to stay active in the summer. “In the country, we had a bus that only showed up at 6:30 in the morning and 7
at night, so I never took the bus,” recounts the Canadian 1,000-metre champion from the speed skating Olympic trials and the track cycling nationals. “I just stayed home and rode my bike around.” The pair’s personas away from the ice vary quite a bit, however. Blondin is quick to goof around, while De Haitre carries an almost unbreakable composure. “With Vince, he’s always been so serious around the other kids,” Morrison explains. “They try to loosen him up, and sometimes they
VINCENT DE HAITRE SPEED SKATING
Age: 19 Local Club: Gloucester Concordes # Olympics: First Medal threat:
Wednesday, Feb. 12 Men’s 1,000 m 9 a.m. ET
Speed skater has country (and indie pop) behind him By David Karp It’s the biggest race of speed skater Vincent De Haitre’s life. He’s psyched up and ready to go. And then his game plan is thrown off. It’s Dec. 30, and the 19-year-old is at his first-ever Canadian Olympic speed skating trials, which determines who goes to Sochi and who doesn’t. Just as he’s ready to go for the 1,000-metre event, there’s a delay. The ice needs repairs after a skater in the previous race fell. “It really affects your focus for the race,” De Haitre recalls. “You’ve got to calm yourself down and then pump yourself back up just before the event. It wasn’t a smooth start to the competition.” That may be De Haitre’s perspective, but to an outside observer, it sure looked smooth. The Cumberland native skated a personal-best 1:08.37, winning the event over Canada’s best to become the youngest member of the Canadian Olympic long-track speed skating team. “You could see in his 1,000 metres that he was so focused,” says Dave Morrison, De Haitre’s childhood coach with the Gloucester Concordes. “The eyes were looking exactly where he was going. Even going through the start commands as he was going down into his hold-start position, his eyes are still looking down, and he looked super calm and relaxed standing there.” It’s an unwavering focus that Morrison has long seen and has only been refined and enhanced since De Haitre’s move to Calgary and the Olympic Oval national training centre two years ago. “Sometimes I find myself singing a song in my head,” De Haitre says of his strategy to remain calm under stress. “Not like a high-intensity song – sometimes like a nice, calming country song that I’m listening to when I’m sharpening my skates to help me relax. Then I go over the race in my head – what do I want to try and do in this race?” It’s not always uplifting music, either. At the Canadian trials, De Haitre had A Great Big World’s Say Something in his head, a mellow achieve that. That’s the best – those moments when he does smile and relaxes a little bit, and you can see that he’s really enjoying himself.” Blondin is one of the best at cracking him. An easy way to do it is by joking about another thing they’ve got in common... “We used to always compare butt sizes,” laughs Blondin, 23. “Just being speed skaters and being the way we both are – it was pretty funny. We used to say, ‘You have the bigger butt.’ ‘No, you do!’ We would actually get a string out and measure. Sure enough,
indie-pop tune with an angsty refrain that includes the lyrics, “Say something, I’m giving up on you.” De Haitre had to deal with his own share of teenage angst in his journey to the Olympics. With a busy training and competition schedule, he had to bow out of his fair share of parties to focus on speed skating. “Sometimes you’d say to a friend, ‘I’ll go to the dance with you,’” De Haitre recounts, “and then you’d say the day before, ‘Sorry, I realized I have this competition and I can’t go.’ Usually that doesn’t go over too well.”
ELITE ATHLETE MINDSET A DIFFERENT WORLD Striving to be a high-performance athlete meant he was wired a bit differently than most students at Béatrice-Desloges high school. “You have something else on your mind if you had a competition that didn’t go well, or if a competition went well but you don’t know how to explain skating to someone,” he details. “So they always see you with this concentrated look on your face, and they think you’re always angry.” Those misunderstandings are fewer these days, surrounded by competitive athletes from many sports at Canada’s winter sports hub. “We have bobsled, ski, skeleton, track and
when I was younger, I had a bigger butt. But he’s in his own league now.” De Haitre became the youngest member of the Canadian Olympic team at age 19 when he won the 1,000 m, and is treated as such, playfully, by his teammates. “There was a joke at trials that his skate crossed the finish line in whatever time, and then his butt crossed the line (well after),” Blondin shares. “He doesn’t really get made fun of, but people bug him about that. I feel like he’s the little brother of the whole team.” And like a big sister who’s
a pain sometimes, Blondin is also conversely thrilled to see De Haitre join her to make their Olympic debuts together. “I couldn’t be more proud of him. I think it’s great that we’ll both be able to experience it together,” remarks Blondin, who thanked many in the community for their support, including her old high school, where Garneau students sent her a signed Canadian flag to wish her good luck. “It won’t just be me on the start line in Sochi,” she adds. “I feel like I have an army behind me that helped me get where I am.”
photo: dave holland
MESSAGE TO ASPIRING OLYMPIANS: “Do something you love, don’t be afraid to work hard, and if you truly want it and you’re willing to put the time in, I don’t see any reason why someone can’t achieve their goals.” field, hockey – all of these sports train at the Oval,” De Haitre notes. De Haitre’s recent success – virtually coming out of nowhere to win the 1,000 m Olympic
Saturday, Feb. 15 Men’s 1,500 m 8:30 a.m.
trials and then placing third in the 1,500 m to earn a second Sochi race entry – is the result of hard work and reinventing his technique under coach Todd McClements. “I really had to work on pushing more to the side and using my own body weight to propel myself forward,” says the 6-foot tall skater with a 190-lb. frame full of muscle. “It’s a hard thing to change – it’s like trying to change the way you walk.” At the start of this season, De Haitre had the Olympics in his sights. But not Sochi – his goal was the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. “I’ll probably have the butterflies in my stomach – it’s my first Olympics,” predicts the athlete who’s also a national track cycling champion in the 1,000 m. “I’ll try to find ways to cope with it as much as possible and not get distracted.” But heading to the Olympics at age 19 instead of 23, where there aren’t any expectations on him to medal, gives De Haitre an opportunity to really savour the experience without the pressure. He looks forward to meeting other athletes from across Canada and around the world, and absorbing important lessons for 2018. “I’d be happy if I could come out of there in the top half of the skaters,” De Haitre says. “I’ll spend as much time as I can learning about how to prepare, and seeing what the guys who have been to multiple Olympics do.”
From Concordes kids...
Vincent De Haitre
...to Canadian Olympians! Join us to celebrate our Olympians & try out speed skating at the SKATE TO SOCHI CHALLENGE!
SATURDAY, FEB. 15 BREWER PARK OVAL
Free hot chocolate & maple toffee for kids. See website for details.
At every Games since Nagano 1998, athletes who trained at the Gloucester Concordes Speed Skating Club have participated in the Winter Olympics. The Club is exceptionally excited to see our own IVANIE BLONDIN & VINCENT DE HAITRE carry the torch high and compete at the Sochi 2014 Games!
PAUL BONIFACIO PARKINSON FIGURE SKATING
Age: 22 Local Club: Nepean Skating Club # Olympics: First Medal threat:
Thursday, Friday, Feb. 13 Feb. 14 Men’s Short Men’s Free Program Skate 10 a.m. ET 10 a.m.
Parkinson picks path less traveled to compete for Italy
veloping an intensive daily training regimen. He fine-tuned his diet, is on the ice at 9 every morning and finishes up with a workout session at 5. “It’s almost like a full-time job,” Parkinson signals. “There are breaks in between, but it’s pretty much the entire day.”
By Michael Lalonde Paul Bonifacio Parkinson has spent more than half his life preparing for just a few minutes on the ice, and he wants to make sure those minutes count. When the Ottawa native straps on his skates to compete at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia in the men’s singles competition, he’ll be performing on a bigger stage than he ever has before. “It’s taken years of sports psychology to get in the correct mindset and knowing that I have the capability to perform under the Olympic pressure, and knowing that, in that moment, I can’t doubt myself,” Parkinson explains. “It’s all mental.” A key moment in the Ottawa native’s path to Sochi was having the fortitude to make the bold decision to represent Italy – his mother’s homeland – internationally, instead of Canada. “We looked into it when I was younger, but at that time I wasn’t ready for all the international competition,” recounts the 22-year-old. “When I medaled at the Canadian championships in 2009 (winning silver in the junior category), I thought it was a good time to make that switchover.” Parkinson says he misses his old team, but doesn’t regret the move. “It lets me represent my heritage and it offered a few more opportunities to compete internationally,” notes the athlete who got his start at the Nepean Skating Club in 2002. Just to add a little more international flavour
Age: 31 Local Club: Carleton Ravens # Olympics: Second Medal threat:
Ottawa home base fuels German’s Olympic drive By Jamie Shinkewski Sara Seiler wants to end her career on a high note, and she has the perfect opportunity to do so as a member of the German Olympic women’s hockey team. Hockey has drawn the 31-year-old to many points around the globe, including Ottawa for the bulk of her adult life, but Sochi could very well be the last stop in her international playing career. “At the moment, I think I’m going to retire after the Olympics,” signals the Hausham native who grew up 50 km south of Munich. Seiler’s entire hockey journey is anything but conventional. When a young girl decides to play hockey in Germany, it’s usually because their brother or father is involved in the game, Seiler indicates, but she’s the only hockey player in her family.
EARNS OLYMPIC BERTH FOR NEW COUNTRY
to his palate, Parkinson spends most of his time training at the figure skating hotbed of Colorado Springs.
STAYS CONNECTED WITH HOMETOWN CLUB Because he’s usually training down south or competing somewhere around the globe, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to come home, but when he does, he makes sure to check in with everyone he grew up with in the skating world. “I’ve got a lot of friends that I stay in touch with from school and from skating here, and I always try to follow along with all the results of the local kids at the club,” Parkinson highlights. “Whenever I’m home – if it’s not a quick 24hour trip – I usually pop into the Nepean club
MESSAGE TO ASPIRING OLYMPIANS: “The biggest advice I’d give to any athlete at a young age is to not give up, even when the times are tough – especially in the sport of figure skating. Your training and competing will go up and down, but in the end it’s worth it. After so many years, I’ve seen that if it ever goes down, it will always come back up.”
and try to skate for a bit. “I know the coaches and a lot of the kids that I used to skate with are coaching now, so it’s cool to see how everything has progessed.” Parkinson’s own evolution has included de-
SARA SEILER ICE HOCKEY “It’s kind of a funny story,” Seiler recounts. “We went with some friends of ours to a lake in the winter and somebody had skates – they were actually figure skates, and I loved skating on that lake. I didn’t really want to go into figure skating although I was wearing figure skates.” So, Seiler’s father registered her to play hockey on the local boys’ hockey team where the path to the Olympics had unknowingly begun. Unlike in the great white north, however, the opportunities available in the game aren’t as evident in Germany. “In Canada, it’s easier to have a role model,” Seiler highlights. “When I was a little girl, I didn’t know who was on the national team.” However, just like young Canadians, Seiler relied on her parents and grandparents to drive her to the rink for games and practices. “If they wouldn’t have been there for me, I would not have been able to even
Sun., Feb. 9 GER vs RUS 8 a.m. ET Tue., Feb. 11 GER vs SWE 5 a.m.
There have been many bumps along the way, including a 2011 injury when Parkinson put his hand down while landing a jump and got his thumb stuck in a hole in the ice, resulting in surgery to get ligaments re-attached. A major high came when Parkinson earned the Olympic qualification quota position for Italy at an international event in Germany, which he followed up with an Italian men’s championship around the holidays and a 23rd-place finish at the European Figure Skating Championships in mid-January. He was still waiting for the final confirmation on his Sochi participation that only comes last-minute, but having met all the required criteria, Parkinson’s mom Edi will be pulling a little harder for the Italian side at this year’s Olympics than usual. “I was lucky as a kid, I followed every single Olympics and felt proud I could cheer on two countries - Canada and Italy,” Edi says by e-mail, stating her immense pride to see Paul reach the Games. “It’s definitely a dream realized for Paul who has had this goal of Sochi 2014 since he was 12,” she adds. “So many obstacles, the ups and downs, the highs and lows, and then many more obstacles, but in the end he just never ever gave up.”
Thu., Feb. 13 Sun., Feb. 17 Thu., Feb. 20 GER vs JPN SemiBronze & Finals Gold Medal 3 a.m. Match Sat., Feb. 15 7:30 a.m. & noon 7 a.m. & Quarters noon 3 & 7:30 a.m.
MESSAGE TO ASPIRING OLYMPIANS: “Always believe in your dream and that hard work pays off.”
come close to what I’ve achieved,” she notes. “You need those hockey parents that drive you every single day to practice and early in the morning to the games.”
FORMER NWHL CLUB DREW SEILER The defensively-strong centre joined the national team and made her Olympic debut in 2006 at Torino, placing fifth. The next year it was off to Canada to join the Ottawa Raiders of the National Women’s Hockey League. “I was so focused on hockey and training I just needed a new challenge – something that showed me how much I like hockey again,” Seiler recalls. “Canada, with hockey being the number one sport, sounded like a good idea. SEILER continues on p.8
photo: dan plouffe
DAWN McEWEN CURLING
Age: 33 Local Club: RCMP/Ottawa C.C. # Olympics: First Medal threat:
Mon., Feb. 10 Wed., Feb. 12 CAN vs CHN CAN vs GBR 5 a.m. ET 5 a.m. Tue., Feb. 11 Thu., Feb. 13 CAN vs SWE CAN vs DEN 12:01 a.m. 12:01 a.m.
CAN vs SUI 10 a.m. Sat., Feb. 15 CAN vs JPN 12:01 a.m. CAN vs RUS
Fate brings McEwen to Winnipeg, Sochi By Nick Faris Nearly a decade after losing to Jennifer Jones in a national championship, Ottawa native Dawn McEwen is teaming up with the Canadian curling legend in Sochi. “I couldn’t ask for better teammates,” says the Team Jones lead. “We’ve been through so much together and we have a ton of fun together.” Not so long ago, it was different, with Jones as a rival. In 2005, McEwen advanced all the way to the Scott Tournament of Hearts final with her Ottawa Curling Club rink skipped by Jenn Hanna. They eventually lost the championship game to Jones, who connected on one of the greatest shots in curling history to win the match. McEwen’s curling journey shifted when she headed west to Winnipeg in 2007. McEwen and Jones joined forces and quickly found big-time success, winning a Canadian and world title in 2008, two more national championships in 2009 and 2010, which also featured a world bronze
medal. The move also reunited McEwen with her now-husband, Manitoba curler Mike McEwen, who skipped his rink to three straight Manitoba provincial finals from 2010-12. “We both live, eat and sleep curling, so it’s pretty cool to be able to come home and talk about our weekends, how we played and strategy about the game,” describes McEwen, who was married in Ottawa last summer. “It’s great having someone in the house who shares the same passion that I do. He’s just so supportive of us
photo: dan plouffe
MESSAGE TO ASPIRING OLYMPIANS: “Believe in yourself. A lot of hard work really does pay off. That would be probably my #1 thing: that we’ve practiced and sacrificed a lot over the years, and it has paid off. Go after your dreams – there’s nothing out there that you can’t do.”
and excited that we get to go to the Olympics.” McEwen also works full-time for
Public Works and Government Services Canada, juggling her job and on-ice training right up to the final weeks before the Olympics. “It’s been a balance I’ve been doing for years and years, but it’s a good balance – I’ve figured it out,” states the Colonel By Secondary School and University of Ottawa communications grad. “My employers are so excited for me. At this stage, it’s a ‘do what you have to do’ kind of thing.” Team Jones claimed their Olympic berth with a victory at December’s Roar of the Rings trials on home ice
10 a.m. 5 a.m. Mon., Feb. 17 Thu., Feb. 20 CAN vs KOR Bronze & 10 a.m. Gold Medal Wed., Feb. 19 3:30 & 8:30 Semi-final a.m.
in Winnipeg. McEwen curled 88% in the championship match, spurring her rink past Sherry Middaugh’s Saskatchewan foursome and sealing their trip to Sochi. “It’s a dream come true,” smiles the athlete who first cast rocks as a seven-year-old at the RCMP Curling Club. “It’s really starting to sink in now that we’re getting closer to the Games, but for the longest while, it wasn’t so real in my head.” McEwen’s gain caused pain for the team’s top rival in recent years, Rachel Homan’s Ottawa Curling Club rink, who finished third at the trials. Homan got the upper hand on Team Jones on two occasions at last year’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts to win their first Canadian title. “It’s great competing against them,” McEwen indicates. “They’re such a great team, and we know we always have good games against them.” Just before leaving for Sochi, Team Jones received good luck “Go Canada Go!” cookies from their top domestic rivals. McEWEN continues on p.10
The Ontario Liberal Caucus: Le groupe parlementaire libéral de l’Ontario : Proud of our Ottawa athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics! Fiers de nos athlètes d’Ottawa participant aux Jeux olympiques d’hiver de 2014!
Hon. Bob Chiarelli Ottawa West-Nepean 613-721-8075
John Fraser Ottawa South 613-736-9573
Phil McNeely Ottawa-Orléans 613-834-8679
Hon. Madeleine Meilleur Ottawa-Vanier 613-744-4484
Hon. Yasir Naqvi Ottawa Centre 613-722-6414
PERIANNE JONES CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING
Age: 28 Local Club: Nakkertok Nordic # Olympics: Second Medal threat:
Jones eyes return trip to Sochi podium By Leah Larocque Cross-country skier Perianne Jones is no longer the new kid on the block. With four solid years of training under her belt since her Olympic debut in Vancouver, the 28-year-old Almonte native hopes to bring home some hardware for Canada in Sochi. “It is definitely different this time around,” Jones indicates. “I am more mature. In Vancouver, I was just happy to be there. I was just stoked to be on the Olympic team and really excited to race at a home Olympics, but I was more of a participant. Now I am gunning for the podium.” In 2010, Jones competed in both the sprint and 15-kilometre distances, finishing 41st and 56th in those events. She says that experience was invaluable. “I have a lot more confidence,” signals the Nakkertok Nordic athlete who used the Ottawa club as a launching pad for her international career. In Sochi, Jones is expected to compete in several events, including the individual sprint, the women’s 4x5 km relay, as well as the team sprint – her forté along with Canadian SEILER cont’d from p.6 The Raiders folded after her first season, so it was then that Seiler decided to resume her educational career. She joined the Carleton University women’s hockey program, eventually becoming the Ravens’ first European captain. “Sara’s a very focused, driven athlete,” says Carleton head coach Shelley Coolidge, who brought
Sat., Feb. 8 Wed., Feb. 19 Skiathlon Women’s 5 a.m. ET Team Sprint 4:15 a.m. Tue., Feb. 11 Sprint Free 5 a.m. World Cup races. “It is tough because you can never really know the conditions. They could be totally different the next day.” That highlights the importance of the whole Canadian team, including wax technicians such as Jones’ husband, Joel Jaques, who were married two summers ago in Canmore, Alta., their home base with the national team.
MESSAGE TO ASPIRING OLYMPIANS: “Dream big. I am just a kid from a tiny town in Almonte and I set a lot of goals and ticked them off one by one. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it and then lay things out and see what it will take to get there.”
teammate Dasha Gaiazova.
HOMETOWN PRIDE HIGH
SOCHI TRACK SUCCESS The pair have been training hard in Austria and Czech Republic in the lead-up to the Games, where they’ll look to repeat the podium performance they achieved at a World Cup race in Sochi last season – the second time they combined to win a World Cup bronze medal last year. “The course really suited us well and gave us a taste of (what to expect at the Olympics),” recounts Jones, who skipped the season’s first World Cups in favour of more training at home and then posted a career-best 10th-place individual sprint rest Jan. 18 in Poland. “For us to have had success there is definitely encouraging going into the Games – to know we have done it before, have seen the tracks, and we have raced well.” Preparation will nonetheless be
Seiler onto her staff as a fitness coach once she’d graduated. “It’s about doing the right thing, pushing yourself the best you can. If you’re going to be an Olympian, it’s about every single day not taking shortcuts.” Seiler, who now calls Orleans home, practiced with the Ravens at the beginning of the season before leaving in November to join ERC Ingolstadt, a German club team in an attempt to re-familirize
challenging since weather and course conditions can always throw a wrench in plans.
herself with her soon-to-be Olympic teammates. Germany is seeking to build on its fifth-place finish at last year’s World Championships in Ottawa, a surprise to many considering the Germans had missed the Vancouver 2010 Games and had to lift themselves from the second-tier championships and then stave off relegation in the next two worlds. “It’s always a hard thing to qualify,” states the former
“The thing with cross-country skiing is that it is both an art and a science,” notes the veteran of nearly 70
economics student. “You need to perform at your best in that moment and that’s not always easy.” Team Germany’s objective is to at least be playing in a quarterfinal at the Olympics to prove that last year’s worlds performance wasn’t just a fluke. “We don’t have one line that needs to be at its best and score all the goals. I think we’re even throughout and any line could score,”
highlights Seiler, adding that goaltending is a major team strength. “Our goalkeepers, they definitely are key for us to be successful.” Now a veteran on the squad, Seiler is confident that her team’s performance will provide an excellent final memory in her unusual ride through the hockey world. “We play together quite well,” she adds. “We’ve known each other for a long time.”
Although she spends the majority of her time out west, there’s always plenty of support back home from her town of almost 5,000. “The community in Almonte is so great,” Jones underlines. “I just ended up putting on some Mississippi Mills patches on my racing suits because a group of people there are raising money for me to race. It’s a really pretty special community. I definitely feel the love. I feel lucky to have all of them behind me.” After the Olympics Jones plans on returning to Almonte to visit her former high school and elementary school and share her experiences in Sochi. She’ll also accompany some young cross-country skiers to Nicaragua in April to help build a school for local children in April through SchoolBox, a local charity that helps children access primary education in Central America. But before then, she’ll take her place at the start line amongst the mountains near the Russian resort town, backed by years of experience, but still expecting to fully feel the excitement of the moment. “There will be nerves and I need to be conscious that it is an Olympic event,” Jones details. “But I cross-country ski race every single weekend all winter, we have been practicing the process all year, and that’s what I will be focusing on when the race comes.”
Sc tt Moffatt
Councillor | Rideau-Goulbourn
Best of luck to all of our Ottawa Olympic athletes! Contact Scott
613-580-2491 Scott.Moffatt@Ottawa.ca Rideau-Goulbourn.ca
GENEVIÈVE LACASSE ICE HOCKEY
Age: 24 Local Club: N/A # Olympics: First Medal threat:
Sat., Feb. 8 CAN vs SUI 8 a.m. ET Mon., Feb. 10 CAN vs FIN 10 a.m. ET
Adversity breeds greater hunger for gold in Lacasse By Brendan McConnell There’s nothing quite like strapping on the pads, pulling on the jersey and seeing the maple leaf to make a hockey player reflect on their journey to reach that moment. For Geneviève Lacasse, one of the goaltenders heading to Sochi for the Canadian women’s hockey team, these Olympic Winter Games are the summit of her rise through the ranks of international women’s hockey. There’s just one more step a tiny bit higher yet – winning a gold medal. “The goal is to go out there and get a gold medal,” states the 24-year-old. “Whatever role I’m given, I just want to do my best and to do whatever it takes to get that gold medal.” Come Feb. 7, Lacasse will join the rest of Team Canada at the opening ceremonies alongside women’s hockey legend and Canadian flag bearer Hayley Wickenheiser. It’s been a long journey for Lacasse to reach the pinnacle of her sport – from her roots in the game when she was the designated goalie while playing shinny with her older brother’s friends in Kingston. Part of a military family, Lacasse has lived in many different places during her life. When there aren’t national team duties in Calgary or a
season to play in Boston, Lacasse will return to her current home in Limoges, where her father lives, and work out at Canadian Tire Centre. Four years ago, she was not even on the radar to be named to Team Canada, let alone potentially be a starter at the Olympics. Lacasse was never called up to play for Canada’s junior or under-23 national teams. Team Canada first took notice of her during her time playing for Providence College, which eventually led her down the road to play for the Boston Blades of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, where she was a championship
Near-misses for many local Ottawa 2014 Olympic hopefuls By Dan Plouffe Along with the Sochibound athletes from Ottawa were almost an equal number who fell just short of representing Canada – one of the world’s toughest Olympic lineups to crack – at the 2014 Winter Games. Many observers were shocked to see Canada’s top scorer in NHL play over the last three seasons left off the men’s hockey team’s Olympic roster. Orleans’ Claude Giroux had hoped he’d be part of the action after watching the Vancouver 2010 gold medal triumph in Philadelphia. “At that point, I didn’t think I had the chance to ever make that team. Now that I’m close to making it, it gives me a boost to want to play better,” Giroux said in the months leading up to the Olympics. He’d been looking forward to the prospect of his first multi-sport Games. “It’d be a great experience to see other athletes and what they go through for their sports,” added the 26-year-old Flyers centre. Ottawa natives Marc
Methot and Dan Boyle also weren’t selected in men’s hockey. For several young local athletes, Sochi wasn’t in the cards, but future Games remain a solid prospect. Cross-country skier Patrick Stewart-Jones was in the mix for Canada’s final Olympic berth, alpine skier Dustin Cook was essentially next in line to compete for Canada in the giant slalom, Alaine Chartrand was three spots away from an Olympic figure skating appearance, and the Ottawa Curling Club rink of Rachel Homan, Emma Miskew, Alison Kreviazuk and Lisa Weagle finished third at the Olympic trials. Gloucester curler John Morris, the 2010 Olympic gold medalist, nearly earned a second-straight trip to the Games with a new rink, beating his former mate Kevin Martin in the trials semi-final before falling in the last match. After spending a relatively successful 2012-13 season on the World Cup bobsleigh circuit, Orleans’ Jean-Nicolas Carrière fell just short of claiming a spot on one of Canada’s three Olympic sleds.
The 28-year-old former CFL football player wrote a passion-filled final post on his blog chronicling his “Ride to Slide” ( http://sportcafe. ca/2014/01/15/to-all-myfriends-and-family-my-supporters/ ) It begins with a painful tone similar to Mellisa Hollingsworth’s apology to Canada after missing the skeleton podium in 2010, but finishes with an exceptionally positive, inspirational message:
MESSAGE TO ASPIRING OLYMPIANS: “It’s not the goals that you set for yourself that define who you are. It’s the person you become in the process of reaching those goals. So don’t ever be afraid to dream big, because even if it doesn’t end up your way, you’ll already have gained so much by simply being brave enough to try.”
—Jean-Nicolas Carrière, 2012-13 national bobsled team member who fell just short of the Olympics
MESSAGE TO ASPIRING OLYMPIANS: “You don’t necessarily need to be the best at a young age, you just have to have fun, work hard and eventually you will become the best.” and top goalie honours. Lacasse started her first game wearing the maple leaf against Team USA at the Four Nations Cup in Lake Placid, where she went on to stop 21 shots and lead Canada to a 4-2 over their arch-rivals. She also played in Canada’s final Sochi send-off game at the Air Canada Centre, a
Wed., Feb. 12 Thu., Feb. 20 CAN vs USA Bronze & 7:30 a.m. ET Gold Medal Match Sun., Feb. 17 7 a.m. & Semi-Finals noon ET 7:30 & noon ET
3-2 defeat to the U.S. “Playing that game in Toronto in front of 17,000 people was just an amazing experience,” recalls Lacasse, the youngest goaltender of Canada’s three, and only one to be making her Olympic debut. “I keep reminding myself that not many people get the chance to experience this so I should just have fun with it.” Lacasse’s long road to Sochi will soon be coming to a head with the first drop of the puck on Feb. 8. Apart from the serious training that accompanies every Olympic year, Lacasse and Team Canada have also had to overcome an abrupt coaching shift, following Dan Church’s resignation just a few months outside the Games. “It was something that was out of our control so we had to adapt and just kind of roll with it,” Lacasse highlights. “I think we responded really well.” That’s good news for Canadian hockey fans nationwide, but perhaps not for arch-rival Team USA. There’s nothing like a little adversity to summon a great Canadian Olympic effort, after all, she maintains. While Lacasse has good friends on the Blades who also play for USA, she remains adamant that come puck drop, the gold medal is the only friend any of them will want to have. “Off the ice, the girls are friends,” Lacasse notes. “But when we get on the ice and put that jersey on, it’s war.” —with files from Dan Plouffe
OTTAWA AT THE OLYMPICS
“For the 3k and 5k, I feel like I’m an underdog. It’s just gaining the experience of being at an Olympics,” Blondin explains. “I’m not going to be like, ‘I should be on the podium.’ The chances of that happening are very, very, very slim. “For the team pursuit, it’s a different story. I know we’re a strong team and I feel like we really should be on the podium.” Canada heads into the Games seeded third in the women’s team pursuit. Blondin is one of four Canadian athletes available to compete in the three-skater, three-round elimination event along with Kali Christ, Brittany Schussler and 2010 gold medalist Christine Nesbitt, who fell on the final corner at last year’s World Championships when the Canadians were easily on pace for a silver medal. That provided an abrupt downward squiggle in the spaghetti line, but Blondin is hopeful that a peak will come at the Sochi Games instead. “I’ve gone through some rough times, and I’ve gone through some amazing times too,” Blondin surmises. “I feel like that’s the reason I am where I am today.”
Numerous Olympians own links to the Capital
photo: jana chytilova / nhl via getty images
photo: fis photo: jana chytilova / photo: danielle earl photo: dan plouffe snowboard nhl via getty images Milan Michalek (hockey), James McNaughton (bobsled), Patrick Chan (figure skating), Crispin Lipscomb (snowboard) and Erik Karlsson (hockey) will also be 2014 Olympians.
A handful of athletes with past ties to the nation’s capital will be competing at the 2014 Olympics, while several local coaches and support staff are also headed to Sochi as part of the Canadian Olympic team contingent. The most recognizable face of the bunch is undoubtedly 25-year-old Patrick Chan, who was born in Ottawa before he took up figure skating in Toronto. The three-time defending world champion wasn’t at his absolute best, but nonetheless dazzled the Canadian Tire Centre crowd to win a seventh-straight national title in January. Chan placed fifth at his Olympic debut in Vancouver and is now the gold medal favourite in the men’s singles event, and could also claim a medal in the new team event.
James McNaughton was the most recent Ottawa resident of the group. The former University of Ottawa GeeGees linebacker from Newmarket was used to adrenalin running high on the football field, but it couldn’t quite prepare him for what he experiences as an Olympic bobsledder. “It’s not even comparable. Getting up to the line just before a race is the biggest rush I’ve ever had,” describes the 26-year-old member of Justin Kripps’ Canada-4 four-man sled, ranked 10th in the world. “It’s friggin awesome. You get up top and everyone’s cheering for you. You’re right in the zone. You’re just trying to rip the push bar off the sled, go as fast as you can and hopefully get in.” Snowboarder Crispin Lipscomb spent several years of his childhood in Ottawa,
first getting a feel for skateboarding locally before winding up in Whistler and making a career on snow. The former Glebe Collegiate Institute student owns a compelling comeback story. Following an 11thplace finish at the Torino 2006 Games, Lipscomb was a contender for a 2010 Olympic berth but abruptly left the sport when a close snowboarding friend of his died shortly before the Games. Now 34, he was drawn back into competing after a coaching stint. He then claimed an Olympic halfpipe position while fundraising his own way to Sochi since he was no longer a national team-supported athlete. Born in Ottawa, 26-year-old Alexandra Duckworth of Kingsburg, N.S. will make her Olympic debut in snowboarding. On the other side of the river, 35-year-old snowboarder Caroline Calvé, originally from Aylmer,
McEWEN cont’d from p.7
River Ward City Councillor • Conseillère, quartier Rivière
Tel./Tél.: (613) 580-2486 Maria.McRae@ottawa.ca MariaMcRae.ca @CouncillorMcRae
Best Wishes to Our Canadian Olympians & Paralympians!
throw some rocks, see some people and catch up,” notes McEwen, whose parents ran a local curling program throughout her childhood. During the Christmas holidays, McEwen met with her former coach, Bob Hanna,
who oversaw her initial curling success in the years before she moved to Winnipeg. “He helped me learn how to curl properly and taught me about strategy and all that stuff,” McEwen highlights. “I owe him a huge debt with what I’ve been able to achieve in sports.” The 33-year-old is now set to compete on the biggest stage in her sport along with Good luck to all skip Jones, second Jill Officer and third Kaitlyn Lawes. The our local goal is to finish atop athletes at the rink’s the podium, which Canada 2014 Sochi hasn’t missed since the sport’s Olympic introduction in 1998 Olympics – also the only time the Canadian women won gold. “We love to curl, and it’s a huge passion of ours,” signals McEwen, who’s making sure to savour the moment in her Olympic debut. “We’ve been in so many fortunate situations, being able to participate in national and world championships on different occasions,” she adds. 613-580-2482 “We’re so blessed to be playing mathieufleury.ca this sport and to have had the success we’ve had.”
Special congratulations to our local Ottawa athletes, coaches and support staff participating in the Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
McEwen will often cross paths with the younger Homan rink when she’s home visiting. “Whenever we’re back in Ottawa, we try to get back to the (Ottawa Curling) Club to
I wish all of our Canadian Olympians and Paralympians the best of luck.
showed she’ll be a parallel giant slalom medal contender with her Feb. 1 World Cup fourth-place finish. And Ottawa Senators NHL players Milan Michalek and Erik Karlsson will both be in the running for medals as men’s hockey competitors for Czech Republic and Sweden respectively. There are several coaches from the nation’s capital who are also part of the Canadian Olympic team, including women’s alpine ski coach Tim Gfeller and Ottawa-born short-track speed skating coach Jonathon Cavar. Support staff from Ottawa-based national sports organizations such as Biathlon Canada, Speed Skating Canada, the Canadian Curling Association and Skate Canada will also make trip, along with others such as Olympic communications veteran Sylvie Bigras. —Dan Plouffe
BLONDIN continued from p.4
OTTAWA AT THE OLYMPICS
Ottawa Olympic spirit alive at site of Groves’ triumphs
training and high school studies, which she’d put on hold in favour of full-time table tennis as a teenager. The two-time Olympian enjoys the setup in Richmond, as well as the new challenge coaching offers. “I love it,” says Zhang, who’s eyeing a strong performance at 2014 Commonwealth Games and a 2015 Pan Am Games title, which would ensure a third trip to the Olympics. “I enjoy seeing them improve.”
By Dan Plouffe
Four years ago, cowbells rang, bands played, and a sea of cheering red and white (along with a patch of Dutch orange) flooded the speed skating oval in Richmond, B.C. for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games. It was the site of a major moment in Ottawa sports history as Kristina Groves earned the final two of four career Olympic medals – exploding with joy as she reacted to an unexpected bronze medal win in the 3,000 m, and then smiling proudly but a little painfully as she accepted the silver medal after the 1,500 m race where she was the favourite. Now, as the torch gets set to burn in Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Games, the Richmond Oval is a drastically different place. The long-track ice is gone along with the thousands of fans, but there is still an energy that runs through the building that’s been converted into a high-performance training facility for many different sports – volleyball, baseball, hockey, table tennis, golf, weightlifting, running, and as of recently, speed skating once again. And there remains an Ottawa speed skating connection there. Dave Morrison, a volunteer coach locally for the better part of 30 years with the Ottawa Pacers and then the Gloucester Concordes Speed Skating Club, recently accepted his first speed skating job “where I’m getting
photo: dan plouffe
TABLE TENNIS WOMEN MOVE FROM OTTAWA
paid real money” to lead a “legacy program” to develop a regional training centre and the next generation of Olympians. “We have some of these nice banners from 2010 down by the rinks, and one of them is of a speed skater,” highlights Morrison, who directs a short-track program on the two Olympic size hockey rinks that remains. “You also have the Olympic rings down there, overlooking the north rink,” he adds. “I was saying to my skaters this morning: ‘It’s like they’re watching us to make sure we get it right.’” The prospect of carrying on the legacy from the Games inspired Morrison to sell his house in Orleans, leave his teaching job at Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School, and take on the challenge of re-igniting speed skating in Richmond. “It’s an ‘all-in’ commitment,” notes Morrison, who moved to B.C. last year with his wife Lynne, also a highly-accomplished coach, while their daughters Samantha and Hannah are based at Calgary’s national team training centre. The end goal for the year-old program Morrison heads is to have a fully operational regional training centre to act as a stepping-stone between club and national programs, have a
photo: cheryl plouffe
solid learn-to-speed skate feeder program for local clubs, and act as a club and coach development mentor for clubs across B.C.’s lower mainland and as far as Whitehorse. “It’s a bit of a shotgun approach. There’s a lot of pellets hitting a lot of different things,” describes the childhood coach of 2014 Olympians Ivanie Blondin and Vincent De Haitre. “The idea is that once the Olympic Games leave town, it’s not like they’ve left nothing behind.”
RICHMOND DRAWS MORE FROM O-TOWN There are a few other sprinklings of Ottawa flavour at the Richmond Oval. Table tennis player Mo Zhang was based in Ottawa for several years at the national team training centre – a facility tucked away in the southwest corner of Chinatown that was previously a school cafetorium. The 25-year-old is now based at the massive Oval, – which provides a stark contrast to the training centre in Ottawa – acting as one of the Oval’s four table tennis coaches. Coaching takes up part of Zhang’s time, along with her own
Para-snowboarder wins first career World Cup medal just outside Sochi
Ottawa Akademy’s John Leslie won the first World Cup para-snowboard medals of his career in January, earning snowboard cross bronze medals in Colorado on Jan. 20 and in B.C. on Jan. 27. “It’s nice to see the hard work and training pay off,” Leslie said in a Canada Snowboard media OTTAWA AT THE release. “I’m PARALYMPICS super proud of Don’t miss March’s myself to have Ottawa Sportspage made these for a special sec- accomplishtion profiling all the ments for the local athletes headed first time in to the March 7-16 my career.” T h e Paralympic Games. 2 1 - y e a r- o l d
Algonquin College student from Arnprior clocked times just behind a pair of U.S. athletes on both occasions to earn the hardware against a field made up of athletes from 10 countries. After his medal win at Big White,
photo: canada snowboard
B.C., Leslie was officially nominated to the Canadian Paralympic team for Sochi. “It felt unreal to come home and get a bronze medal,” described Leslie, who lost a leg to bone cancer at age 11.
Table Tennis Canada announced in January that the Richmond Oval will become the new home for the national women’s team, as well as a training camp location for all other Canadian table tennis teams, with Chinese teams set to visit regularly to provide joint training opportunities. “The Richmond Olympic Oval offers the ideal high-performance environment for our athletes,” Table Tennis Canada CEO Tony Kiesenhofer notes in a news release. “All the services we could want are integrated on site, from a competition-level playing environment to sport medical, psychology, nutrition and other support services.” Community programs are a big part of the mix in Richmond on top of the high-performance focus. Ottawa native Dylan Brown is also at the Oval now, leading a fundamental movements school for younger athletes. It’s all much different than the Olympic speed skating venue, but very impressive, underlines Morrison, who will be hosting a March short-track national team trials event at the Oval on the same weekend as international fencing and Can-Am karate competitions. “That kind of usage, where the building is at capacity, in terms of a legacy for an Olympic facility, it’s very, very good news,” Morrison signals. “It can be quite exciting when you see the breadth of sports in the building. You feel that energy when you come in.”
Eastern Canadian champ Nakkertok’s Emilie Stewart-Jones was a champion on her home course at the Jan. 31-Feb. 2 Eastern Canadian Cross-Country Skiing Championships.
By Anne Duggan Three days of breathtaking speed, stunning effort, flying banners and the many colours of club
and team uniforms from across Canada took over the snowbound hills of Cantley as all the local cross-country ski clubs collaborated to host the 2014 Eastern Canadian
Royals Report & Knights News Open Letter from the Ottawa Knights and Royals Baseball Club
photo: steve kingsman
Championships at Nakkertok South Nordic Centre from Jan. 31-Feb. 2. Juvenile racer Alison Pouw was amongst the region’s strongest racers at the event that featured more than 600 racers. The Nakkertok athlete scored two gold medals (7.5 km classic mass start & 5 km free) and a bronze (3 km free) in the juvenile women’s category. “There is a lot more competition at this event so it gives me a real taste of how the other parts of the country are doing,” explains the Glebe Collegiate Institute student. “The Easterns are a way to get me ready for nationals.” Chelsea Nordiq skier Laura Leclair points to her many hours of practice on N a k k e r t o k ’s trails as an effective way to prepare for such a large event. “I knew the course really well. I had practiced it so many times,” notes the 3 km free gold medalist and 5 km free bronze medalist in the younger junior B women’s class. “My ski buddy and I raced down Dirk’s Dive over and over.” Dirk’s Dive, N a k k e r t o k ’s steepest hill, was
There have been a lot of new happenings on the local baseball scene of late so we thought it best to take some time talk about our program – the Ottawa Knights and Royals Baseball Club. It’s an exciting time at our Club as we prepare for February tryouts for the Knights, the age 15-18 competitive team that travels to face the top competition in Ontario and North America, not to mention our upcoming spring training in Florida. Royals tryouts, for players age 10-14, will follow in March. Here’s a little background on our club and our programs:
WHO ARE THE OTTAWA KNIGHTS? The Ottawa Royals Baseball Club & Ottawa Knights joined forces at the end of the 2012 season. We wanted to grow our Royals program to provide an avenue for our players to continue to develop as baseball players. After a number of meetings with various groups, the Royals united with the Ottawa Knights. The Knights, then entering their 22nd season, had been fielding competitive teams for older teenagers, while the Royals focused on younger players. Since there were no conflicts, the fit with the Ottawa Knights was perfect! With the first season in the books, we lived through the “good and the bad” and began the process of developing many new initiatives to enhance the program. In particular we focused in on successes that many of the elite programs are having in Southern Ontario. It became clear that in order to be more successful as a program, the ORKBC needed to offer more to our players, something that is currently not available in the region. This led to the following program enhancements: > Ottawa Knights Sambat Fall League > Addition of 3rd team: 16U AAA > Partnership with Fortitude Fitness – Baseball Training Specialists > Spring Training in Florida (March 8-16) And there are more program additions in the works…
WHERE DO THE KNIGHTS PLAY? We are very excited that our elite 16U AAA & 18U AAA teams were accepted into the Fergie Jenkins Showcase League (FJSL) for 2014. The FJSL, in its very short existence, has quickly become the fastest-growing elite
especially challenging during Sunday’s races, with large fluffy piles of soft snow turning skis at a moment when racers least expected it. There were many spills from racers of all abilities, from national team members to the juvenile boys. It didn’t stop numerous local athletes from winning hardware, however. Nakkertok’s Emilie Stewart-Jones was a double-medalist in the junior A women’s 1.4 km free (gold) and 15 km classic mass start (silver), as was Nakkertok’s Maks Zechel in junior B men’s (silver in 3 km & 7.5 km free). Chelsea Nordiq’s William Dumas was a gold medalist, Nakkertok’s Colin Foley and Katherine Marshall were silver medalists, while Skinouk’s Nicholas Pigeon, and Nakkertok’s
baseball league in Canada. We are confident that having our teams play in this league will expose them to some of the top competition all of Ontario has to offer. The 16U & 18U AAA season and playoffs will run from May to August, with 4-6 trips to southern Ontario for games. The Knights will also compete in several college showcase tournaments in Canada and the U.S. Our competitive developmental team or 18U AA program will continue to play in the very competitive Ligue de Baseball Inter-cite Metropolitaine (LBICM), based largely in Montreal. The LBICM runs a 26-28 game season plus playoffs and select Canadian and U.S. tournaments. We feel another advantage of our program is our ability to develop from within. We place players where they can best develop their skills. Should players be required by our elite teams due to player absence or injury, we can easily move players up a level because we have the internal means. This gives players a chance to play in situations that will benefit their growth. By having multiple teams, we can now focus on developing players and not rushing them to levels ahead of their abilities. We don’t see the advantage of rushing players up to levels that they are not ready for. Confidence is a huge factor to the success or failure of any baseball player.
WHERE’S WINTER PRACTICE HELD? The program recently partnered with the OZ Dome facility in Stittsville where we conduct winter training, tryouts and practices until the fields open in May.
HOW CAN I JOIN THE KNIGHTS? > Registration can be found on our website: www.ottawaroyalsbaseballclub.com > Ottawa Knights Information Sessions: February 8 & 15, 3:30-4:30 pm, OZ Dome. > Ottawa Knights Tryout Schedule (at OZ Dome): – Thursday, February 20: 8-10 pm – Saturday, February 22: 6-9 pm – Sunday, February 23: 2-5 pm – Thursday, February 27: 8-10 pm
Kailey Young and Brendon Howard earned bronze medals. Two local athletes were triple-medalists at the para-nordic nationals, held alongside the Easterns competition. Kanata Nordic athletes Alexei Novikov and Margarita Gorbounova both won a gold and two silver in the men’s and women’s standing competitions respectively. At the Jan. 29-Feb. 3 Junior/U23 World Cross-Country Ski Championships in Italy, Katherine Stewart-Jones earned the best result out of four Nakkertok athletes, posting a 15th-place finish in the junior women’s sprint race. Patrick Stewart-Jones, Ben Wilkinson-Zan and Sebastien Townsend were the other Nakkertok participants.
National medal surprise for Kanata skaters By Dan Plouffe
Sleeping in their usual beds the night before a big competition was a treat for the hometown athletes at January’s Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Ottawa, but perhaps no one savoured that luxury more than the parents of Melinda and Andrew Meng. The Kanata couple enjoyed the rare opportunity to stay in their own house at the same time during the event next door at Canadian Tire Centre. For the past three years, they’ve traded shifts at their kids’ apartment in Montreal, where ice dancers Melinda and Andrew setup shop in their pursuit of the top levels in international figure skating. “One of our parents is always with us,” explains Melinda, who moved to Montreal at age 11, when her brother and ice dance partner was 14. “They drive back and forth.” “They’re an enormous part of our success,” Andrew underlines. “Whenever there’s been a big change or we’re having difficulties, we can always talk to them,” Melinda adds. The Mengs made a major change just a month before nationals, switching coaches and their training plan. Their expectations weren’t sky-high heading into the competition, but the former Nepean and Rideau Skating Club athletes put together a dazzling free dance to win a silver medal in the junior competition in front a cheering crowd of family and friends, and their boisterous Quebec teammates. “It’s amazing. I still can’t wrap myself around it,” smiles Andrew, the owner of one of nationals’ most joyous reactions to seeing a score in the kiss-and-cry area. “The reaction just explains it all. In my head, it was, ‘Ahhh!’ – just screaming sounds. There aren’t really words.” It was the reward for years of dedication and sacrifices for Melinda, Andrew and their family, including the transition from Knoxdale Public School and Lisgar Collegiate Institute to French-language schools in Montreal, which they say was their most difficult challenge.
photo: danielle earl
OSU Force Academy Zone
OSU’s New 5-Year Strategy will Expand Club’s Leading Position
Melinda Meng & Andrew Meng.
It helps to have a close sibling at their side, both agree. “We have good days, and we have less good days, but overall we usually get along pretty well,” Melinda notes. “We know each other so well. It’s not as stressful, I think, as with another person you’re less comfortable with.” The Mengs’ 134.54 point total was the 10th-best ice dance score posted at nationals – at the junior or senior levels – hinting at the potential for big things in their future. “Long-term, the dream is obviously to go to the Olympics,” notes Melinda, adding that competing well for Canada on the Jr. Grand Prix circuit and Junior World Championships is the more immediate goal. “Maybe we can bring back some medals.”
NOVICE BRONZE FOR NATS ROOKIE Josh Allen was the other local athlete to win a medal at the nationals, earning a bronze in the novice men’s event. The athlete who splits his time between the Nepean and Gloucester Skating Clubs pulled together a solid free skate after a shaky start to earn his place on the podium. “I didn’t really expect it after that long program, but I’m really happy to get a medal,” says the first-time nationals competitor. “I really enjoyed skating here. It was a whole different atmosphere, and I really liked it. We were really lucky to have it here.” The bronze medal marked a major rise for Allen, who failed to
photo: danielle earl
qualify for nationals last year, let alone contend for a prize. A big part of that was simply physical growth and increased strength, which helped him to get a pair of triple jumps and a double-axel into his program, his coaches indicate. “(Moving into the novice division) was a big eye-opener for him,” signals Gloucester coach Darlene Joseph. “He realized, ‘I’m not in the game until I can show up with the tricks.’” “Now he’s starting to get more of a man’s body, and he’s improved a lot over the last year,” adds Nepean coach Leonid Birinberg. “Before he couldn’t find his centre of gravity, his arms and legs were wherever.”
Having just finished a banner 10th anniversary season complete with new local soccer history and players reaching ground-breaking new heights in the professional, university, provincial and national levels, Ottawa South United Soccer Club is now embarking on an ambitious five-year plan to continue to raise the bar. “We always want to be at the forefront of soccer and sports in Ottawa,” highlights OSU founding President Bill Michalopulos. “For us, it’s not simply developing players, it’s about coaching development, club development, volunteer development, infrastructure development, and giving back to our community. “This Board-developed strategy will continue driving sustainable excellence, which is the basis of OSU’s founding principles.” On the club development front, OSU is aiming to increase total enrollment to 8,000 players from its current 6,500 by 2018 and increase non-registration revenue. OSU plans to maintain its formal alliances with the Dallas Texans, the top-ranked U.S. youth club, and establish new ones with Major League Soccer, Women’s Professional Soccer and European professional clubs. Growing the annual Showcase of Champions tournament and female participation in coaching, refereeing, training and sport science are also key objectives that reflect the ambitions of the OSU community and overall club goals. OSU will also explore restructuring the club in order to best deliver tiered soccer programs and maintain and build on OSU’s reputation and achievements as Ottawa’s #1 youth soccer club and one of the largest and most progressive clubs in Canada. In soccer development, OSU seeks to have 2 National ‘A’, 8 National ‘B’, 16 Provincial ‘B’ and 2 National Children’s licensed coaches in the next five years to help players achieve goals of 8 scholarships annually for graduating players, 2 players on provincial and national teams yearly, 5 placed in professional academies and 2 play professionally within five years.
HEARTBREAK FOR CHARTRAND Along with Ottawa athletes’ triumphs came heartbreak for one young local skater. It was pure devastation for the Nepean Skating Club’s Alaine Chartrand as she faced the reality that her fifth-place senior women’s showing wouldn’t be enough to earn her desired Olympic trip. “Obviously I’m disappointed,” the 17-year-old started, pausing before speaking the painful words, “I won’t be going to the Olympic Games this time.” Chartrand is less than four months younger than Canadian champion Kaetlyn Osmond, but physically, the
difference between the two is considerable. For Chartrand to nonetheless place fifth in Canada despite skating poorly by her standards, under the pressure of her first Olympic trials as the lone hometown hope to claim a berth, remains a positive sign for the future. “(The 2018 Olympics) are still my goal,” emphasized Chartrand, who went on to earn a new international personal-best score later in January, placing seventh at the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Taiwan. “I’ll definitely be shooting for that.” Ottawa had 11 total entries in the week-long event for novice, junior and senior categories.
Community involvement is a theme throughout, with volunteer and infrastructure development in Phase II of the George Nelms Park soccer facility, in conjunction with the City of Ottawa, serving as points of emphasis. Participating in community events, ensuring funding is available for all kids to be able to access soccer, graduate bursaries and links to area schools are part of the plans, along with construction of a new turf field and mini-fields in OSU’s core catchment area.
HITTING HIGH GOALS A TRADITION As a whole, the five-year plan may seem daunting, but OSU carries a strong record of meeting bold targets since its inception, stated OSU General Manager, Jim Lianos. “At the start of the club, there were 3-year, 5-year and 10-year plans,” explained OSU’s long-time GM. “We were delivering our threeyear plan in a year, our five-year plan in three years and our 10-year plan in seven years.” The hard work required by club staff, volunteers and the Board of Directors to achieve the high objectives may not provide the same feeling of jubilation as the championship-winning goal, but is nonetheless essential to making those magical moments on the pitch possible, Lianos adds. “There’s a lot of work going on in the background prior to that kid showing up and playing their game,” he notes. “But the end product is exciting. “You see kids who have been in the club since they’re 5, 6, 7 or 8 and now they’re progressing, whether it’s to the elite level, playing competitive or recreational, and they’re moving through the club and staying to play as adults, or coaching. It’s the cycle of soccer.” “OSU was primarily created to raise the bar for youth soccer in Ottawa and to maximize opportunities for our players and coaches,” Michalopulos adds. “We definitely moved the bar and the tangible results of our teams and players – who come to join OSU from all over the City of Ottawa and as far as from Kingston and Belleville – clearly demonstrate our culture of excellence. “The next five years will see a dramatic increase in the opportunities available to our OSU players and our infrastructure, as we execute our new strategic plan.”
Nepean’s Andriyko Goyaniuk placed seventh out of novice men, while Gloucester’s Christian Reekie and Minto’s Cameron Hines were 11th and 16th the same division. Minto’s Alexis Dion was ninth in novice women’s, Reekie and Minto’s Vanessa Chartrand placed eighth in novice dance in their first nationals. Now based in Montreal, Minto’s Hugh Brabyn-Jones also made a big jump up the ladder from last year to finish fifth in junior men’s, while Colorado-based Zoe Gong of Minto was ninth in junior women. Minto’s Samantha Glavine and Jeff Hough rounded out the local results with their eighth-place showing in junior dance.
Homan collects city’s top athlete award By Josh Bell
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Before they took off to defend their Scotties Tournament of Hearts title in Montreal the next morning, the Rachel Homan Ottawa Curling Club rink were feted as Female Team of the Year at the Jan. 29 Ottawa Sports Awards banquet, with their skip earning the nod as the city’s Female Athlete of the Year. “I didn’t expect us to win those awards. There are so many amazing teams and athletes here,” Homan said of the crowd of 600. “Ottawa is so supportive in sports, from the development level all the way to the national level. It’s great to see everyone come out here and be recognized. I’m very honoured.” 2013 was a big year for the young Homan team that features Lisa Weagle at lead, Alison Kreviazuk at second, Emma Miskew at third and skip Homan. They finished atop the World Curling Tour Order of Merit and captured their first national title along with a world bronze medal. “Winning the Scotties is
something that I am really proud of, that accomplishment at such a young age,” reflects the 24-year-old. “We’re all extremely proud of that tournament.” Team Homan didn’t get the biggest prize last year however, finishing third at the Canadian Olympic curling trials. “We worked hard to qualify for the last four years,” Homan underlines. “But it’s alright, it is part of the sport, you never know what’s going to happen. (Team Jennifer) Jones will do a good job of representing Canada, I’m excited for that.” Instead of going to Sochi, Team Homan will play
photo: dan plouffe
in the overlapping Scotties in Montreal, with the chance to defend their Canadian crown. “A lot of the prep work that we’ve been doing for the Olympic trials is kind of the same that we would have done for the Scotties,” Homan notes. “Right now we’re focused on winning.” The Carleton Ravens men’s basketball team was equally dominant on the men’s side at the Sports Awards. They took the Male Team of the Year prize, while national MVP Phil Scrubb was Male Athlete of the Year. A full list of Ottawa Sports Awards winners is available on ottawasportsawards.ca .
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CONCORDES SPEED SKATER SETS NEW TRACK RECORD TO QUALIFY FOR JR. WORLDS
Isabelle Weidemann at last earned her long-desired trip to the World Junior Championships by winning the women’s overall title at the Canadian Junior Long Track Speed Skating Champions Jan. 24-25 in Saskatoon. The 18-year-old Gloucester Concordes athlete set a 3000-metre track record and also placed second in both the 1000 m and 1500 m.
LOCAL SLEDGE PLAYERS DORION & DELANEY HEADED TO SOCHI
Ottawa’s Marc Dorion and Ben Delaney were officially nominated to the Canadian sledge hockey team in January and will head to the Sochi Paralympics March 7-16. Canada played an exhibition series against the U.S. in North Carolina last month, winning the opener 4-1 before defeats of 2-1 and 3-1 to end a 16-game winning streak.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH EVENTS PUTS FOCUS ON HOCKEY
The University of Ottawa will host a “Speaking Black Hockey” event on Saturday, Feb. 22. Featuring an ESPN documentary on the historic “Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes”, a speech by Nicholas Ngwafusi of the Cumberland Grads “about hockey and the black experience” and more, the event seeks to provide hockey officials, coaches, players and parents with an opportunity to learn about little-known contributions of African-Canadians to the modern game of hockey. The free event runs from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at the Alumni Auditorium.
SNOWBOARDER ALLPORT RETURNS TO WORLD CUP CIRCUIT AFTER INJURY
After losing the bulk of last season to injury, Kanata snowboarder Natalie Allport is now back on track, having competed in her second World Cup competition of the season on Jan. 19 in Stoneham, Que. The 20-year-old placed 29th in the women’s slopestyle event.
LOCAL SOCCER TEAMS COMPETE IN ONTARIO INDOOR CUP FINALS
The West Ottawa Warriors played in the final round of the Ontario Cup under-16 girls’ soccer competition Jan. 25-26 in Vaughan but did not advance through the group stage. The Ottawa Royals U13 boys will compete in their Ontario Indoor Cup finals Feb. 8-9 in Vaughan, as will the Gloucester U13 girls and a pair of U18 boys’ entries from Cumberland United and Ottawa South United.
KANATA RHYTHMIC GYMNASTS PRIMED FOR START OF COMPETITIVE SEASON
Twenty-one athletes from the Kanata Rhythmic Gymnastics Club launched their 2014 competitive season on Jan. 26 with an in-house competition. Last year, Kanata earned three allaround provincial championships medals, and another trio claimed event medals. The team will compete several times in Toronto this year, along with their own March 9 Kanata Cup.
TABLE TENNIS PLAYER SUCCESSFUL IN GLOBAL JR. EVENT
Fuel Up with Powerful Nutrients --By SportsCan, Ottawa’s LTAD Leaders Athletes need energy every day to keep them moving, thinking, and performing at their best. Focusing on foods that will provide the most energy and improve performance is ideal for all athletes. Get the most out of your performance, by following some sport nutrition tips to ensure that you are power-fueled for practices, games, and workouts.
CARBOHYDRATES: THE PRIMARY FUEL FOR MUSCLES Carbohydrate (CHO) is the primary fuel for most types of exercise and the most important nutrient for athletic performance. Food with a high concentration of CHO include: fruit, cereal, rice, pasta, potatoes, some vegetables, and some dairy products.
PROTEIN: BUILDS AND REPAIRS TISSUES Very little energy is derived from protein. The primary role of protein is to build and repair muscle, ligaments, and tendons. Good protein sources include: lean beef, poultry, fish, tofu, yogurt, eggs, milk, beans, and nuts.
FAT: HELPS SUSTAIN PROLONGED EXERCISE Fat has more than double the calories of carbohydrates and protein, and it takes longer to digest and metabolize. Everybody needs some fat in their diet to help support the nervous system and membranes of many cells in the body. Dietary fat comes in a variety of forms; try to choose healthier sources such as: nuts, oils, seeds, cold water fish, avocados, and olives.
VITAMINS & MINERALS Vitamin and mineral supplements provide NO energy and will not enhance athletic performance of individuals already eating a balanced diet. Talk to a registered dietitian if you think you should take supplements.
Ottawa table tennis player Hongtao Chen, 18, earned several big triumphs to advance through the group stage at the ITTF Junior Circuit Finals in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal, eventually falling in the quarter-final round on Jan. 25.
HALF-MARATHON RACE ADDED TO EMILIE’S RUN
Compelled to add the fastest-growing road race distance to its event, the annual Sports 4 Emilie’s Run will include a half-marathon in 2014 on top of its women’s-only 5k, which draws numerous elite runners with a prize purse of around $5,000.
LOCAL CURLING RINKS EARN SOLID RECORDS BUT NO TITLES AT PROVINCIALS & JR. NATIONALS
A pair of local teams narrowly missed the medal rounds at the Canadian Junior Curling Championships and the Ontario Tankard in Liverpool, N.S. and Smiths Falls. Ryan McCrady’s Rideau C.C. rink went 6-4 at the nationals, while Mark Homan’s Ottawa C.C. rink was 5-5 at provincials. City View’s Bryan Cochrane made the Tankard semis.
Coach of the Year rebounds from crushing Olympic medal DQ
to better them?” Gilbert questions. “If we can’t better them with our legs, we’ve got to better them with the technique through the zone. We make up time there and most people don’t ever see it coming. I don’t mind being the technical person who wants to do that kind of stuff, especially if it’s going to result how it has.” When his name was read as NUTRITION - STRENGTH & CONDITIONING - MENTAL TRAINING - VIDEO ANALYSIS Coach of the Year, Gilbert immediately thought of his Canadian relay crew. “For the guys to run as well as they did this year and last year, it showed Ottawa’s Most Certified* their resilience,” says Coaching Staff For Every Gilbert, whose Lions Skill Level also claimed 15 pro* NCCP National Coaching Certificate Program & Canadian Coaches Association vincial relay banners, three national titles and two Canadian university titles in 2013. NEW PRE-COMPETITIVE “I was happy. This one COMPETITIVE means a lot.” Check our website Cheyanne FarNADA’S A C H C for Winter Program T A W COME quharson of the S R Schedules E IV D R IO N TOP JU Rideau Canoe Club us io tig es t ll host this pr alifying Even The ONDC wi claimed the Female ternational Qu tsplex In d an l na Natio an Spor Coach of the Year at the Nepe March 20 - 23 award. —with files from Visit our website for more information and registration. OttawaNationalDiving.ca Josh Bell
OTTAWA’S LTAD LEADERS FOR OVER 10 YEARS
FIRST CH ICE DIVING
Glenroy Gilbert was genuinely glowing at the Ottawa Sports Awards banquet as he held the trophy given to him as the city’s Male Coach of the Year. First, there was the smile because the honour had been kept secret from him until the moment it was announced, but the bigger cause for happiness came from the accomplishments it represented. 2013 was a big year for the Ottawa Lions Track-and-Field Club and Canadian relay team coach, but the story starts back at the London 2012 Olympics. Gilbert’s 4x100-metre relay boys had just defied the odds and won Canada’s first Olympic relay medal since his gold medal triumph in 1996. Then it disappeared in a moment, the bronze medal gone due to a lane violation. “I was crushed,” recalls Gilbert. “I’m telling you, as an athlete, I’ve never experienced anything like that. It was big. I watched those guys pour their hearts out and then to have something like that happen... “It took me months. I couldn’t get over it. I couldn’t understand it.
It made no sense to me. I know how difficult it is to even get to that point, the Olympics. “But to have started where these guys were ranked 16th, and by the Games, they were #3 in the world.” It was six months before the team even talked about the race, but they eventually picked themselves up with a renewed drive to build on their standing. They came back in a big way in 2013, claiming their bronze medal a year later at the IAAF World Track-and-Field Championships. “From year to year the team changes,” Gilbert notes. “We lost 50% of the team that was in London, so we brought in a couple of other guys that were up for the task. And these guys got out there and not only did they win the bronze, but they ran much faster than they did at the Olympic Games. It wasn’t the Olympics, but it certainly was a good comeback.” Lacking any runners who can crack the 10-second barrier, the Canadians rely on technical perfection to keep up with the best – a testament to their coach’s influence. “We’re not Jamaica, or the United States, so how are we going
By Dan Plouffe
Mailing address: 902 Pinecrest Rd. Ottawa, Ont. K2B 6B3
YMCA-YMCA OF THE NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION STARS OF THE MONTH
Contact: Editor: Dan Plouffe 613-261-5838 Editor@SportsOttawa.com
The Ottawa Sportspage is printed on the first Tuesday of the month by Ottawa Sports Media, the locally-owned and operated publisher of the Ottawa Sportspage newspaper & SportsOttawa.com. Local sports news from high schools, universities, community clubs and elite amateur sport is the name of our game. We’re at The Heartbeat of the Ottawa Sports Community.
Team of the Month: Nepean Ravens U10 Novice Blue Ringette Team Team Members: Natalie White, Marianne Bedard, Natasha Hall, Nyssa Stuyt, Erika Murphy, Rachel Steckly, Jamie Frackleton, Tara Mullaly, Olivia Wallace, Maggie Marszowski & Samantha Fancy
Athlete of the Month: Carmen Marin
About: The Nepean Ravens U10 ringette team got off to a flying start in 2014 at the Winterfest tour- Sport: Soccer nament in Waterloo. The Ravens got off to a bit of a shaky start as they allowed Guelph to escape Club/Team: Ottawa Royals/Parmar Futuro Academy with a 9-9 tie after being down 9-5, but rebounded well in their next match to trounce their first opponent from host Waterloo 9-2, and then wrapped up their round robin with a 5-3 victory over a School/Grade: Grade 7 Fisher Park Middle School second Waterloo team to setup a rematch with Guelph in the final. It was another close match, fin- About: Carmen matched up against players from 2-4 years ishing 4-4 after regulation, but Nepean prevailed in overtime on Jamie Frackleton’s winning goal. her senior in January when she received an invitation to To nominate Stars of the Month, go to SportsOttawa.com and follow train with Costa Rica’s under-17 national team in advance the link on the right-hand bar under the Stars of the Month feature. of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. A regular player for Courtesy of the Ottawa Sportspage and the YMCA-YWCA of the Na- the Ottawa Royals U13 boys’ team, Carmen is eligible to tional Capital Region, the selected Athlete of the Month will receive a play for both Canada or Costa Rica internationally since free one-week Family Pass to the Y, while each member of the Team of her father grew up in Costa Rica. Visit SportsOttawa.com to read a full feature on Carmen’s experiences. the Month will receive free one-visit passes.
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City Councillors Tim Tierney, Rainer Bloess, Bob Monette, Maria McRae, Peter Hume, Jan Harder, Mathieu Fleury, David Chernuschenko, Katherine Hobbs, Mark Taylor & Scott Moffatt, Mayor Jim Watson, Members of Provincial Parliament Grant Crack, Phil McNeely, Yasir Naqvi, John Fraser, Bob Chiarelli & Madeleine Meilleur, and Photographer Dean Joncas.
Flipping to the top of the podium By Dan Plouffe
Five athletes from the host Club de gymnastique Les Sittelles placed first or second in their events at the first Ontario Cup trampoline competition of the season Jan. 25-26 at Gisèle-Lalonde high school. Jean-Simon Lavoie-Albert, Nicolas Dessureault and Gabriel Carrier all topped their categories, while Marianne Bourque and Alexandre D’Aoust were silver medalists. Spring Action athletes Kelsey Ducharme (first), and Avery Wheat and Alyssa Greenwell (second) were also in with the best in their divisions. A number of local gymnasts soared considerably higher when they boarded airplanes headed for Cancun and Las Vegas. Bradey Rosettani (second in team event, third individually) and Sarah Stacey (second team, seventh individually) from the Ottawa Gymnastics Centre and Nepean-Corona’s Danielle Doan (first team, eighth individually) traveled with Team Ontario for the Cancun Classic along with OGC coach Tobie Gorman. Eight young girls from the Tumblers Gymnastics Centre in Orleans took part in a major competition in Las Vegas that featured over 2,000 competitors from across the U.S. and abroad, as far as Australia. “I wanted the girls to have the opportunity to be exposed to a different competitive environment from what they are used to,” notes Tumblers women’s artistic program director Alina Florea. “This trip was also an opportunity to bond as a team and to learn to be more independent as the parents were not traveling with them. “Add in the experience of seeing a Cirque show and visiting the Grand Canyon, this trip has been a great experience for them all.” Nine-year-old Emily Lemieux placed fifth all-around in her group, with a silver medal on balance beam.
A double mini-trampoline silver medalist, Marianne Bourque was one of many members from the host Les Sittelles club to compete at an Ontario Cup trampoline event Jan. 25-26 at GisèleLalonde high school.
West Ottawa Soccer Scoop
WOSC invests big in player development, reduces 2014 OPDL fees The West Ottawa Soccer Club has taken its commitment to support the new Ontario Player Development League to a new level. Through prudent cost management and additional resourcing through Club reserves, monthly fees for members of the U13 Girls’ and Boys’ teams for the inaugural 2014 OPDL season have been reduced to $199/month. Through extensive consultation with its OPDL stakeholders, the Club identified player costs as a potential barrier to participation, compounded by the uncertainty around certain league implementation details ahead of the pivotal new Ontario Soccer Association player development program’s first season. While the program operations budget (not including transportation) had been forecasted to amount to approximately $3,500+ per player, the WOSC board of directors, after careful deliberation, has made the leadership decision to approve a special 2014 OPDL registration fee of $2,390, thereby, granting a significant subsidy to all participating players.
LEADING THE CHANGE CHARGE
Five Tumblers competed in Level 8 – Jordan Faig (2nd AA, floor bronze), Avery Rosales (third AA, beam bronze, floor silver), Bryanna O’Grady (fourth AA, beam silver), Alexandra Cameron (vault bronze), and Juliette Chapman helping them to third place out of 10 teams. Julie-Anne Fiset competed in Level 9 and used the event as a tuneup for her upcoming debut at Elite Canada, set for Feb. 6-9 in Gatineau. Closer to home, there were plenty of top results at the women’s provincial championships qualifier Jan. 24-26 in Oshawa, including AA
photo: steve kingsman
titles by Nepean-Corona’s Piper Veloso (Level 5 Age 10) and Jennifer Vo (Level 8 Age 14-19). OGC’s Mackenzie Capretta and Elizabeth Mckee, Corona’s Olivia Lee, Doan and Anna Meech, and Olympia Gymnastics’ Meghan Heer also hit the AA podium. Earning AA medals at the first men’s provincials qualifier were National Capital’s Ryan Diep (first, Level 1 Age 8-9) and Nathanael Teng (third), and OGC’s James Doucette and Taylor Jackle Spriggs (both second). OGC will host the next major gymnastics meet in town March 7-9.
This bold move was made in light of the rapidly changing Ontario soccer landscape, with OPDL as a further catalyst for needed progress. Not only will program fees for nonOPDL players at WOSC not increase to cover this subsidy, but the Club leadership anticipates significant spinoff benefits for its members as a result of WOSC’s OPDL program. “All along we have said that becoming an ODPL franchise would be a tide that lifts all boats within our Club, not an elite program supported to the detriment of other programs,” emphasized WOSC President Brian Mason. “Our full-time coaching staff will be able to bring football development mentorship to bear across all levels of play and coaching and our heightened focus on areas such as our expanded sports medicine and science offerings, will reverberate far beyond the teams that will represent WOSC in the OPDL from 2014 going forward.” With the Club having assembled a technical A-team in recent times, consisting of OPDL U13 Girls’ head coach Kristina Kiss
(National B License), a Canadian Women’s National team icon and only female OPDL head coach in Ottawa, OPDL U13 Boys’ head coach and former Celtic Glasgow ace David Hannah (UEFA A License), and Technical Director Erik Stoffelshaus (UEFA A License), an 11-year veteran with leading German Bundesliga Club Schalke 04, it brings a level of coaching experience and pedigree to the table that is second to none in the league.
SPORT SCIENCE & PHYSIO EXPERTS From a sport medicine perspective, WOSC OPDL players will be supported by some of the best services in the city at Carleton University Sport Medicine and Physiotherapy Clinic and at Stittsville Sport Physiotherapy. SportsCan, a leader in long-term athlete development sport science programming, is working closely with WOSC OPDL teams with weekly strength and conditioning training, and also by making education offerings available to the larger WOSC coaching community. With support made possible by its new Club Partners from Soccer Express, WOSC, as the only franchise in Ottawa, will also be able to provide a full kit of high quality Adidas apparel to its athletes. “We are proud and excited to know that our thousands of WOSC Warriors will be looking their best when they step onto the field this season,” stated WOSC CEO Bjorn Osieck. “The players in our flagship OPDL program will receive the same quality uniforms we will see at the FIFA Men’s World Cup Brazil 2014™ at no cost to them,” he added. Based on the Club’s well documented and long-standing support of the Canadian Soccer Association’s Long-Term Player Development framework, the WOSC Board of Directors is convinced that this heightened commitment is the right start-up investment in a development approach that seeks to be inclusive and puts the players first. “Much has been said about how the OPDL is the long-overdue paradigm shift for the top players in Ontario,” Mason indicated. “WOSC feels that a special team effort is needed to give this great development framework and the youth athletes within it the best chance of success.” For further details about OPDL and other WOSC programs feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-831-1135.
Capital United Technical Director takes over Ravens By Dan Plouffe
photo: dan plouffe
With over 20 years of involvement in youth soccer, Raz El-Asmar will make his debut as a university head coach next season for the Carleton Ravens, taking over from Alex McNutt, who left to become the Ontario Soccer Association’s Talent Development Manager. “I’m really looking forward to it,” says El-Asmar, an assistant with the Ravens for the past two years who received the new gig in late
January. “The university level is quite exciting. You see players you work with on an almost daily basis and you see their progress happening from Year 1 to Year 4 and some Year 5.” El-Asmar is well known in the local soccer community as Technical Director for FC Capital United Soccer Club, a role he plans to maintain, although he may scale back the number of Cap U teams he coaches.
EL-ASMAR cont. on p.18
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Local talent love Capital Hoops By Anil Jhalli
Over 6,600 basketball fans enjoyed the latest installment of the Capital Hoops Classic on Jan. 21 at Canadian Tire, with the added perk of seeing the country’s top-2 ranked men’s teams face off in this edition. “As a first year player, and getting a chance to play and be part of this rivalry, you really can’t ask for anything more,” says Carleton Ravens guard Victor Raso, a Hamilton native. “You hear about the rivalry between
the two schools and you read on it but to be part of it, it really is special. To me, it has to be the best rivalry in the country.” Stittsville native Vikas Gill says one of the many reasons he wanted to play for the Gee Gees was to experience the rivalry first-hand. “I was told about this game, I know about this game, and I know what this game means to not only both teams, but everyone here that came out to watch this game,” signals the uOttawa forward. “We didn’t play
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well at all, but with nationals coming up, we have to stay motivated.” The Ravens won their seventh straight Capital Hoops matchup over the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees men, flexing their muscles in an 82-58 victory as they seek a repeat national title on home court later this year. Orleans’ Tyson Hinz played in his final Capital Hoops battle. “These games are always fun,” notes the fifth-year Carleton forward. “There wasn’t time for emotions here, this was a big game atmosphere and I had to focus on going out there and helping the team win.” Earlier in the evening, the Gee-Gees women (12-6) beat the 13-5 Ravens 57-47 for just their second Capital Hoops victory in seven years. The Ravens men are perfect at 18-0, while the GeeGees are perfect against everyone but Carleton at 16-2.
photo: danielle earl
gram,” El-Asmar signals. “And all our (Capital United) coaches would Along with a full-time day job at love that.” IBM, it’s bound to be as busy a life In reality, it’s not as simple, as ever for El-Asmar. however. “I have the full support from “At the end of the day, we need home, especially my wife – who’s to step back and take a look at a saint – and my kids too, they what they are looking for academwere excited and told me to go for ically-speaking,” notes El-Asmar, it,” notes El-Asmar, whose four whose daughter Vanessa plays for kids have moved into university the uOttawa Gee-Gees herself while studying business. “But if it’s a fit for our program, that would be the ideal situation absolutely.” The Ravens have emerged into the top tier of Ontario teams in FC Capital United offers Developmental Soccer recent years, beatPrograms & Summer Camps that combine fun ing the Gee-Gees skills development for kids from 4-11 years old. for the first time Under the direction of our National B Licensed ever last season, Club Head Coach, Traian Mateas, this program is and placed fourth delivered by only experienced qualified coaching in the province staff with the objectives to teach essential skills and after a defeat to aptitudes that allow young players a lifelong enjoyment Queen’s in the of soccer at the recreational, competitive or Elite levels. Ontario bronze medal match. NO WAITING LIST! PLAYERS WILL NOT BE TURNED AWAY! “I’m fortunate to step into that. th th Summer Youth League Program – May 17 -Sept 6 There’s a good 4-5 years old: 1 session/week. Cost: $125, incl. full uniform set & soccer ball level of stability, 6-11 years old: 2 sessions/week. Cost: $175, incl. full uniform set & soccer ball and the girls esLocation: Pauline Vanier Soccer Fields, 1500 Beaverpond Dr. (near Blair & Innes) tablished a good level of success,” Summer Camps El-Asmar high4-5 years old – cost: $75 (half day). 6-11 years old – cost: $125 (full day). lights. “We were Weekly – Month of July. Location: Gloucester High School / Trillium Park. one penalty kick away from going Want to know more? to the nationals. FC CAPITAL UNITED We could have Tel.: (613) 695-2832 made history Email: email@example.com there, but I’m www.fccapitalunited.com hoping that we can soon enough.” EL-ASMAR cont’d from p.17
themselves. Most recently, El-Asmar guided the Capital United under-17 girls to an Ontario Youth Soccer League East Division title this past season. With the bulk of those top provincial players graduating high school this year, it suggests the possibility of a recruiting lift for the Ravens. “We’d love to have a great player come through to our pro-
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