Team Canada athletes maintain poise as they prep for 2022 Olympics
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With the countdown on to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, two Team Canada athletes from Alberta are pumped to compete, show their national pride and are confident about their prospects at the Games.
Alpine skier Erik Read and bobsledder Christine de Bruin have both been on top of their respective sports, scooping medals and slaying solid times at world championship events leading up to the XXIV Games, which run Feb 4 – 20.
Unlike any other Games
Yes, these Games will be highly unpredictable, but they are slated to happen despite the highly contagious COVID-19 variant Omicron. It will also be the first Olympics without international fans (only domestic spectators are allowed).
Despite all of the noise, Team Canada officials and the athletes are determined to get to Beijing. That means ensuring everyone arrives and stays healthy.
It’s safe to say anything can happen, and that might even include the possibility of Canada bringing home more than its record-breaking 29 medals from the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Keeping positive through the pandemic
Pandemic – and politics – aside, this will be the biggest Olympics, with 15 winter sports and 109 events (including seven debut sports) over 19 days. De Bruin will compete in one of those new sports – the Monobob, a single-person bobsled. (More on that below.)
Amid the busyness of training, competing and travelling to the lead-up world championships for the athletes, it’ll be challenging to get to Beijing without a positive Covid test, says Read, of Calgary. Read is to compete in both the slalom and giant slalom (GS) downhill skiing.
“It’s the new normal,” says Read, son of audacious alpine skier Ken Read, who was one of the “Crazy Canucks” on the World Cup scene in the ’70s and ’80s. “A positive test means no Olympics for you, so that is an extra caution we have to take, whether at the gym or hotels,” he says. “We’re absolutely trying our best, but there’s an extra level caution we’re taking right now.”
De Bruin is no less daunted in the face of the “insane” amount of COVID protocols that will happen during the Games. She began her athletic career in track and field representing the University of Alberta, but at the urging of her coach, switched to an impressive bobsledding career since 2013.
Lucky charms and staying focused
Aside from the gruelling training and travelling schedules, both de Bruin and Read keep their heads above the distractions by taking it one day at a time, and by incorporating their own routines and habits into their sports.
“You stay flexible and roll with the punches as they come along,” says Read, who wears a pair of Helly Hansen lucky socks when he competes because they give him the perfect amount of “snugness” in his boots. These Games, he’ll also be wearing the chili pepper necklace his girlfriend gave him, considered a good luck talisman in southern Italy where his girlfriend is from.
De Bruin has a different way of getting focused before a competition.
“I like consistency … doing the same thing… I always walk the track with my coach and talk about the corners a little bit, relax and get away from chaos at the top of the hill,” she says.
Meanwhile, we spectators can relax at home or at the office cheering on Team Canada from afar.
HOW TO FOLLOW THE 2022 OLYMPICS FROM HOME
If you’re as charged up as we are to cheer on Team Canada, here’s a primer on the Games.