If you’re like me, you may be going through a little bit of “Games withdrawal” since the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games ended. Good news! “The Games” ain’t over, folks. These past two weeks have only been a lull, before the action picks up again. From March 4 -13, the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games take place in Beijing, and Canada is sending 49 athletes from across the nation. With 5 sports competing, including wheelchair curling, Para ice hockey, Para alpine skiing, Para snowboard, and Para nordic skiing, these Paralympic Games are set to be the most exciting yet.
If you haven’t followed the Paralympic Games before, then this is the year to tune in. The Canadian team is stacked with accomplished competitors and fresh young talent. In the words of Josh Dueck, chef de mission for the Beijing 2022 Canadian Paralympic Team:“I know the performances and stories of these incredible athletes will elevate, motivate, and unite Canadians across the country, displaying the joy and resiliency of the human spirit and the power of sport to change lives.”
Now, I myself am no stranger to winter sport. In my youth, I was an exceptional downhill skier: exceptional in my eagerness, and my clumsiness. (I could never get the hang of that tow-rope, and was nicknamed “the wipe-out King” by my junior high ski club). HOWEVER, I loved the feel of the fresh winter air, and the thrill of a smooth and (though rare for me) graceful run. As an adult, witnessing the perseverance, dedication, courage and incredible skill of Paralympian winter athletes fills me with awe and admiration. These athletes are masters of their sport, and at the same time are pushing the boundaries of human achievement.
As you may remember from my previous PumpTalk about the Olympic Games, when it comes to cheering on Team Canada (from my couch) I can get a little worked up. I’ve been warming up for the Paralympic Winter Games by watching interviews from Petro-Canada’s Fuelling Great Athletes // Propulser de grands athlètes series, featuring Natalie Wilkie and her coach Robin McKeever (Para nordic skiing), Lyne-Marie Bilodeau and Coach Graham Nishikawa (Para nordic skiing), and Alexis Guimond and Coach Jean-Sébastien Labrie (Para alpine).
Both Natalie Wilkie and Lyne-Marie Bilodeau are past recipients of a Petro-Canada Fuelling Athlete and Coach Excellence (FACE™) grant. They will be joined in Beijing by 14 other FACE™ alumni including:
- Para alpine skier Logan Leach, the youngest athlete at the Games (19), who will be making his Paralympic debut;
- Two-time Paralympic medallist wheelchair curler Dennis Thiessen, the oldest athlete at the Games (60), competing in his third Paralympic Games; and
- Six-time Paralympic medallist Para nordic skier Mark Arendz, competing in his fourth Paralympic Games.
We’re proud to see so many past FACE™ grant recipients compete with the world’s best, and thrilled for their success thus far. For a peek at the next round of up-and-comers, check out the 2022 FACE™ announcement. These 55 athlete/coach pairs will receive $10,000 each to help them chase their dreams.
While you’re waiting for the excitement to begin, check out this interview with Catherine Gosselin-Després, the Executive Director of Sport for the Canadian Paralympic Committee. Catherine describes the substantial planning, organization and preparation that goes into ensuring that all the athletes’ accessibility and competition needs for the Games are met, including on-site equipment repairs, assisting devices and even prosthetics. It’s an impressive operation!
Go Team Canada! Over on our social media pages, we’re ready to help you root for our athletes. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to celebrate our FACE™ athletes’ successes, and cheer them on in the comments! Each time Team Canada wins a medal, we will be giving away three sets of our limited edition 2022 pins (one Olympic, one Paralympic and one Coaching Association of Canada pin, each featuring that adorable red panda!) on our Facebook page, so be sure to stay tuned.
It’s easier than ever to access coverage of the Paralympic Games on CBC/Radio-Canada or CBC Gem online. You can also follow the Canadian Paralympic Team’s Twitter account and Facebook Page for competition coverage.
Go get ‘em, team! You got this!
We’ll be rooting for each and every one of you.