Pure Sport

Success in sport is often tainted.  It seems like it is happening now more than ever.  Doping allegations, murder investigations, equipment tampering………the list goes on.  But how about having a pure sport experience that is filled with pure joy and has no negative side at all?  That, my friends is what I was so blessed to witness in PyeongChang 2013, the Special Olympic World Winter Games.

Having been asked to be honorary coach for Team Canada was exciting.  I had the opportunity to meet the snow sport athletes at a training camp in Canmore a couple of months ago.  The next time I saw them and met the rest of the team, was in Vancouver on January 24th at the team send off!  It was a day of meeting athletes, coaches, mission staff, family, and volunteers.  A bit of a blur for all of us!

I met up with the team again in Korea, and over the next week, I had some of my most memorable sporting experiences ever.

I marched with the team during the Opening Ceremony, watched their faces as they saw the performances play out, as the flame entered the stadium, and as the Games were officially opened.

I saw every sport that Canada participated in, during training and/or competition.

I was moved to tears when Philip realized he had won his speed skating race, pumped his arms into the air, and then threw himself to the ice in shock and joy!

I was so proud to see the alpine skiers in their training, ski so hard that many were moved up to the next level.  Then to hear them tell me about how proud they were of how well they had done.

Barrett, the snow shoe athlete, who walked around and proudly showed everyone his ribbon he had won in his race.   I am not sure he took it off all week!

At the cross country venue, I felt helpless as Shane and Rachel missed the transition to the tracks that led to the finish line.  They had been skiing so brilliantly and had been so focused that they continued on the tracks that led them around the course one more time. They stopped and argued that they were done.  Finally at different intervals, they had to ski back, make the transition to the finish area, and cross the line.  Shane had such a lead that he still won the gold medal, and Rachel won the bronze even with the huge delay.  There was no frustration – the smiles on the podium said it all!

The fist pumps from the floor hockey teams – both East and West were enough to bring all of us fans to our feet.  We weren’t just cheering forTeam Canada, but also for the teams that only had enough helmets for those on the floor so that during the shift change, extra time was taken to switch the helmets to their teammates.

The hug between Marc and Michael after Michael won the silver medal in figure skating.  The veteran Marc, competing at his 7th World Games, had given Michael advice the previous evening on how to prepare and how to visualize his program with no mistakes!

There were so many moments.  So many conversations with the athletes that made me smile and pray that one day, my children will be as much of an inspiration to others as these athletes were to me.

Some of the most inspiring moments from Pyeonchang, however, will never be seen.  Team Canada brought extra floor hockey sticks to the World Games because another country didn’t have any.  The speed skaters let other athletes borrow neck guards because not only did some athletes not have any, but were just skating for the first time!  That is unheard of in our competitive world of today.  It is, however, the norm in the world of the Special Olympic Games.  They truly experience pure sport.

Thank you Team Canada for the hugs, for the smiles, for the stories, for the inspiration, and for the joy!

The Power of the Games

As I prepare to leave for London and realize we are only one week out from the start of the XXX Olympiad, I am experiencing all sorts of emotions.  As a mum, I am sad to leave my kids and anxious about not being able to monitor where and what they are doing.  As a broadcaster, I am nervous but also excited about the new role ahead of me. I have never been at the desk and having an 8 hour live show every day is intimidating, but I am excited to bring the stories of the athletes home to Canadians.  As an Olympian, I am so excited and proud of what lies ahead!

The Olympic Games are the only event that can bring over 200 nations of the world together in peace.  All of those nations – many of whom are in war with each other, can enter into a stadium together, marching in with pride representing their country, and be celebrated, in one place.  And for the first time, each one of those nations will be sending both men and women to London.

Of course, we will hear about the long line ups, the problems with traffic, and the issue with tickets.  This won’t be a problem of just the London Olympic Games – it is a problem (or we seem to make an issue of it), at every Olympic Games, winter and summer.  These Games will see heartbreak, disappointment, and surprises.  But they will also see victory, joy, and inspiration.

Regardless of results and medal counts, the Games have power.  That power lies in our ability to be inspired.  I have been inspired by the four Olympic Winter Games I competed in, and by the four Olympic Games I have been a part of as a broadcaster.  I know London will be equally inspiring.

As I head to the airport, I think of Perdita Felicien’s words in her recent blog, “Gold Mettle”.  “I won’t ever be an Olympic Champion and that sucks……”  “I’ve dreamed the biggest dream imaginable for myself………..Yes it’s broken my heart into a million pieces, but funny it has also been the glue that could put it back together again.”

As I read her words, I had tears streaming down my cheeks.  I am sad for Perdita because she is disappointed she didn’t make the Olympic team for 2012, but she realizes that races don’t define her.  I am inspired as she reminds me that an Olympic medal doesn’t make us a champion, it is our attitude that makes a champion.  Sport gives us all the ability to dream, and regardless of the result, sport has the ability to inspire ourselves and others around us.

The Olympics have brought us together as a nation.  Now in just one week, the Olympics will bring us together as a world, in peace.  For those 17 days we celebrate the Olympic ideals.  Perhaps the power of the Games will continue to live on within us for more than 17 days……

100m Hurdles Showdown

The road to London is full of hurdles……literally! As the Canadian track and field championships take place in Calgary, the talk is on the women’s 100m hurdles, where six women have made the “A” standard. Only three women will make the team. The stakes are high – the right to wear the red and white in London at the Olympic Games. However, it is not just the outfit they want, or the chance to experience such an incredibly powerful event…… these women want to make the final and to make a statement that they are the best in the world!

Of the six women, four are already Olympians. Priscilla Lopes-Schliep already has a bronze medal from Beijing. Perdita Felicien has a world championship title, but unfortunately is remembered for her fall in Athens 2004 over the first hurdle. Angela Whyte is a two time Olympian, placing 6th in Athens. Nikkita Holder and Phylicia George are rookies and want their Olympic careers to begin in London. And then there is Jessica Zelinka, the newly crowned Canadian champion in heptathlon. She broke her own Canadian record and is currently ranked 3rd in the world in this event. She too will compete for a spot in the top 3 on Saturday in the women’s 100m hurdles.

There are no second chances. I get it. I have felt, lived, and fought through that pressure. It is exhilarating, it is difficult, but most of all, it is why we compete in sport, and why we watch sport! There are no guarantees! Until you cross the finish line, the question remains…… who CAN do it? Who WILL do it? These Canadian women want to make a statement – but who will have the final say?

Catriona Le May Doan

Vancouver 2010

”Oh Canada”…….the first two words of the best song in the world! That song was heard more times from February 12 to February 28 than ever! What a celebration.

So many Canadians are having post Olympic depression, asking themselves “what do we watch now”, but for me I am so proud to have been a part of the 2010 Games, but am happy they are over. The Games came full circle for me. I was fortunate enough to have been in that room in Prague on July 2, 2003 when Jacques Roggue announced that the 2010 Winter Olympic Games were awarded to Vancouver/Whistler. I was on the VANOC board for three years, and after that I was involved in various events leading up to the Games.

On October 30, 2009, I had what I consider to be my most emotional Olympic moment ever. I was asked to be one of the first torchbearers to begin the Olympic torch relay. I had been asked to keep this confidential and was told the other first torchbearers, Simon Whitfield, Silken Lauman, and Alex Despatie were given the same instructions. I realized this was a big deal, but until I landed in Victoria, BC, that morning, it hadn’t really hit me. My flight was delayed, but was told that the Flame which was flying in from Greece was delayed also. I was walking off the tarmac and stopped for a moment as I saw a Canadian Forces plane land – the Olympic flame was aboard. It was then that my nerves and excitement started.

Once downtown, I got my white torchbearer suit, met with the others, then we got into position. As they started the ceremony, it hit me…….we were the FIRST torchbearers!!!! Simon looked at me and we talked about how nervous we were. As athletes, we are individuals who are all about control, knowing and preparing for our situations. This was different – this was something we couldn’t prepare for. Our names were announced. We walked on to the stage, waved, then walked to the cauldron, lowered the torch, and the first of thousands of torches began the route across this incredible country of ours. Simon and I proceeded down the path, but it was when we started to jog, that it really hit me. Thousands of kids and adults lined the way, waving Canadian flags. It was overwhelming. I was not prepared for how emotional that moment was. It took me by surprise. I thought of my kids and how so many experiences in life will inspire them and how this was one of those moments for these kids here.

The next hour was a blur. We were whisked to interviews where it started to hit me……..how powerful this day was to so many Canadians. On the set of CTV, Brian Williams kept telling me how I seemed more emotional that even after my gold medal. I had very short answers. I WAS more emotional. When I won my gold medal, it was due to decades of work, and it was a moment that continues to sink in. This was just so intense and powerful and I didn’t know how to react or vocalize it. If I had really tried to explain it, I would have been an emotional mess…….you know, that crying when you can t speak……that sort of situation.

I flew home that day and the moment I saw my children I cried so hard. My kids of course were saying “mummy, what s wrong?” with me trying to explain how I was so happy! For the next 24hours, I cried! At this point I had already known that I would carry the torch on February 11 – the day before the opening ceremonies. Coke had asked if I would like a spot. This was before I knew anything about October 30th or what else was to come. I knew at that moment on the 30th that I was happy my kids weren’t there as this was a moment for all Canadians but that I wanted them there on the 11th, as this would be a day for us as a family and me not as an Olympic champion, but me as a proud Canadian.

Fast forward through a wonderful Christmas season where it was such a joy to see my kids have fun skiing, skating, tobogganing, be surprised by Santa, and a spectacular, relaxing trip to Mexico.

January 19th, 2010. I receive an email from John Furlong; “please phone me, I have to talk with you about a confidential matter.” At this moment I think, maybe he will ask if I will help carry the Olympic flag. Talk had been going around about who would light the cauldron. I figured it wouldn’t be me since I had been first torchbearer. I phoned john and he asked if I would be willing to be one of 4 final torchbearers to light the cauldron. I was in shock, became emotional, said yes and then thanked him. I came downstairs and burst into tears as I told my family what I had accepted to do.

That was a tough secret to keep. Let me tell you though, I am proud of well I was able to not let on what I knew. BUT, let me explain, I had no idea who the others would be. I had my guesses (I was mostly right) but until a few days before the opening ceremony I wasn’t told. We did two rehearsals in the middle of the night and it was at that first one when we found out who we would have to honour of being with.

Our two rehearsals went off without a hitch.

On February 11th, our friend Kameron drove me and my family to where I would be running. I got my number – 167, and then boarded the bus with the other torchbearers. I loved that – hearing the stories about how and why the others got the opportunity to run. There are so many incredible and inspiring stories that I have heard about the incredible feats of so many. I sure hope to read them all in a book someday! I got off on my stop, and my family met me there. My son, Easton, who had just turned 3 on February 7th, had just woken up so was a little grouchy and groggy. My daughter, Greta, 5 ½, was becoming overwhelmed with all the people wanting a photo. I loved the moment when someone asked if I was the only celebrity on the bus. I said no, we are all celebrities – we are torchbearers. Those 300m were so special. I ran slowly with my family running beside me. The team that has crossed the country has done such an incredible job, and they let Bart and the kids run to the side of me. Greta was smiling and waving, as was Easton. It was such a special time to share with them. Those 300m were all about the full circle my life has come with the Olympic Games, and to share it with Bart and the kids was a dream come true.

What no one knew was that in 24 hours, I would carry the torch again.

I had a really interesting situation. I was working the opening ceremonies with CTV, helping bring the athlete parade of nations into the stadium, and then left the broadcast booth to change and get ready. I didn’t know how emotional this I would be. There was a very special moment when were moving to our designated areas. Rick Hansen gave me hug, and said, “I am so proud to be doing this with you kid.” Wow, that was amazing! I was so honoured – he is such an incredible individual!

Of course what happened next is now famous……the “Malfunction”. The most common question was what was going through our mind. I was worried our torches would run out of fuel. We waited, and waited, and waited, and finally we were instructed to proceed. I would not light a cauldron but would salute with the flame. My first instinct was to go to Steve Nash’s cauldron, but thought it wasn’t fair to him.

I have to say, right after we were done, I was sad. I felt like I had been left out. I am able to rationalize well, and I did just that. I had so many amazing emails and texts from friends and family about how poised I was, and that helped, but a small part of me, felt like I had been cheated.

I believe fully in the Olympic Games. I believe in the power that it has for athletes, coaches, volunteers, and our countries and communities. We all saw that power in Vancouver and Whistler. As Canadians, we stood tall. We have always been proud, but we finally had the courage to voice it! I had a wonderful opportunity to bring the sport that I love so much, speed skating, to so many Canadians’ homes with my broadcast role,

Four days before the end of the Games, I get a phone call from David Atkins, the brilliant producer of the ceremonies. Would I be willing to be a part of the first 5’ of the closing ceremonies? I was elated! Two days later I went for a rehearsal, and to see what he had created was amazing. This man is brilliant! We watched it with stand -ins and then went down to the floor and I turned to David and told him that he didn’t need to do this, but that I appreciated it. I started to get emotional and he put his hand on my shoulder and smiled and said, “It’s the right thing and it’s going to be great!”

That moment is probably what most people talk about when they mention the closing ceremonies of 2010. The mime “brought” my cauldron up, and then I rose from the floor with my lit torch (it was lit from the actual Olympic flame that was kept in the lantern). To finally have that moment, of lighting to the cauldron, of saluting the crowd – that was a moment that I will remember forever.

In the few weeks since the Games, life is back to normal. But what is normal? Sometimes rushing for flights across the country, other times rushing to get Greta to kindergarten on time, and the best times, outside playing with the kids and laughing.

We all have our favourite Olympic moments. I have fortunate as I have had many special moments. What makes me so happy knows that in 2010 so many Canadians got their first Olympic memory and were inspired by it.

Even though the Games won’t be back to Canada for a long while, the impact of these Games will last a lifetime. Young or old, we can always use inspiration to help us on that daily journey toward realizing our own dreams!

Catriona Le May Doan

2008 Update

2008 has been a great year so far. My son, Easton, turned 1 on February 7th which was a lot of fun. He started walking when he was 9 ½ months old so he is really on the move. He has a great nature – always smiling, and wants to make others smile and laugh but is he ever busy! He is not afraid of anything and already teasing his big sister.

Greta turned 4 on May 19th. She has really grown up and is such fun. She was in playschool for 2 mornings a week this year which was a lot of fun for her. She also took ballet and just recently had her dance recital at Jack Singer. It was so wonderful to see her in her costume up on stage performing in front of so many. I was so proud of her! Greta has always loved ALL her dolls (and there are many) but still loves cuddling her little brother – until he pulls her hair and laughs! To make matters even busier we have a new puppy, Ernie, who is 8months old. He is already 60lbs and very tall but a great dog. He is a golden doodle so has a great nature, and doesn’t shed!

I am so proud to be co-hosting the CBC show Countdown to Beijing. It is a great show that features so many of Canada’s great athletes that will be performing in Beijing this August. If you are interested in seeing who will be representing our great country at these summer Games, please tune in every Monday at 7:30pm!

I have always loved everything to do with people and sports and am proud to continue to be so involved in both. I love the motivational speaking that I do – I love to meet so many new people and travel all over this great country of ours. I also am very involved in trying to continue to make a difference in sport by being involved in many sport boards.

This past June, I accomplished a first for me……I ran my first half marathon! Considering my event used to last 37 seconds, I was very proud to have accomplished this goal. Many people asked what made me do a half? I needed to set a goal that was so difficult and so different than anything I had ever done and this was it! I entered the edge to edge in Tofino/Ucluelet and it was gorgeous. It was very hilly but I accomplished my goal and ran it in 2hrs 13min.

I am looking forward to the next couple of months. I will be continuing to follow the summer Olympians as they prepare for Beijing. I will also be sharing my story with many Canadians as I travel to various conferences. The best part of the summer will be spending it with my kids as they play and continue to learn new things.

Catriona Le May Doan

Hello to everyone!

First of all – I want to apologize for the lack of updates in the past while. I have been extremely busy and I hope to be able to update you on the various activities that I have taken part in, and what has been going in my life.

The most important was the birth of my daughter, Greta Munro Le May Doan – one and a half years ago! I can’t believe how the time has flown by and she amazes me every day by the new things she learns. She has been able to travel with me quite a bit, and has even been overseas to see family in Scotland! Greta has been walking since just before she turned eleven months and is talking a lot as well. She is such fun and I can’t imagine life without her. Even if I am tired or stressed, she has a way of making me laugh (and she loves to laugh as well).

I have been busy with public speaking which I am really enjoying. I get to meet so many new people and I hopefully inspire them in some way to deal with their situations in work, sport, or family, or at least help them to keep pursuing their dreams. I have continued to have the support of various sponsors and I have been able to be with them at occasional conferences and have even been able to go south and enjoy the sunshine with them. Their support of my sporting dreams has been greatly appreciated.

I was part of the Vancouver 2010 bid team that presented to the IOC in Prague in July of 2003, and have since been on the board of VANOC. It has been a really interesting process and I am learning a lot and appreciating how much excitement there is in this great country of ours for the Games, for sport, and ultimately for the athletes of the future to be able to realize their dreams. I recently hosted the live show for the unveiling of the new 2010 logo which was very exciting.

The Olympic Oval in Calgary has been a huge part of my life for many years – I spent so much time there that I married someone who worked there! A few months ago I accepted a part time position at the Oval as Olympic Oval liaison. I am enjoying working with the team and learning all about how the four sports (long track speed skating, short track speed skating, female hockey, and cycling) are working together and how great the programs at the Oval are.

One of the most important roles that I have as an athlete in this country is to give back to the community. I had lent my name to various charities over the years, but now that I am retired, I am very excited to give time, energy, and passion to these charities as well. I had the opportunity in December of 2004 to go to Tanzania with Right to Play. I learned about RTP and the programs that they implement. I was in orphanages, schools, communities playing with kids and teaching kids about sport and health education. It was an extremely inspiring trip.

I have spent so many years of my life competing in sport and doing what I love. In November I was honored twice for my sporting accomplishments and community involvement. I was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and was inducted along with other amazing Canadian athletes and builders. It was quite special to be inducted at the same time as the 1972 Team Canada hockey team. Even though I don’t remember them playing (I was one at the time), I do know the impact that their victory has had on our country for decades.

I believe that the biggest honor in our country is to be recognized by others not for the work that others see, but for the work that you do for the good of others. I was named an Officer of the Order of Canada on November 18, 2005. The medal was awarded at Rideau Hall by the newly appointed Governor General Michaëlle Jean. It was a beautiful ceremony that honored 43 recipients. I was awed by the people that were honored and all that they have given to Canada in order to better the areas of our society.

To all of you, I thank you for your continued support.

Catriona Le May Doan

A New Chapter

Today a new chapter in the life of my speed skating career begins. I have decided to retire from the Canadian National Speed Skating team. This decision has been one that has been difficult to come to. This decision was made with the help of my husband Bart, my family, my friends, and also my teammates and coaches.

Some people say that you should never retire from something if you still love what you do. Well, let me be the first to say. I love speed skating. I love everything about it, but I believe that it is the right time to move on to the next step. What is the next step? I am excited about the future. Yes, it is a little scary – it is a change, but I am looking forward to continuing to pursue my goals. Those goals are in public speaking, maybe some television commentating, and helping with sport so that the skaters and other athletes of the future will be able to fulfill their dreams. I plan to do more community involvement including working with the Vancouver 2010 bid committee, Right to Play, and other charities that I am involved with. Starting a family of our own is also in our future plans.

I have been involved in speed skating for 23 years. I have been a National team member for 15 years and participated in 4 Olympic Games. Those years are full of many very special memories. I will never forget the many hours that I spent on the bus going from Saskatoon to Winnipeg, with my friends, pulling up to the oval and being so excited to race, and to see many of the older skaters on the National Team and think “one day maybe that will be me”. I have had the opportunity to see the world and I have competed in the Netherlands, United States, Japan, China, Korea, Russia, Norway, Italy, France……just to name a few countries. I will keep those experiences with me for a lifetime.

The hardest thing for me is to leave my teammates. They are like family to me. We have gone through everything together. We know each other inside and out, and through all of our experiences we have learned to help each other during the tough times and the great times as well. I will miss sitting at the dinner table for three hours in Europe or Asia with them, talking and laughing about everything from politics to relationships. I will continue to be close to them, but I do admit that not being together every day, out on the road cycling, doing laps, sitting on the bumpers worrying about our hard training session will be very hard. My teammates were a big part of my success. I will never forget running hills in Fortress at a training camp, feeling like I couldn’t take one more step and hearing them cheer me on, knowing that pushing myself to the end, would help me to eventually accomplish my dreams. I will miss the travel – in some ways the traveling is very hard and tiring, but it is also a great part of our lives. We really bond on the road and I will miss that and all of my team very much.

I have had many people throughout my career that have helped me to achieve my dreams. The thrill of hearing the National anthem in Nagano and then again in Salt Lake City has been due to the support of so many special people. Most importantly, I have to thank my family. My parents have been so supportive over the years. They have never pushed me and that has been the most important thing in my continuing to skate and compete. I have felt that regardless of any circumstance or result, they have been behind me 100%. My parents allowed me the freedom and the guidance of moving to Calgary in 1988 when I was 17 years old to take my place on the National Team. My sisters have put up with my frequent stress outbursts and with my busy schedule I have not been the most accessible babysitter. My husband has been a huge source of support. He has dealt with my stresses, my lack of confidence, my fatigue, and many more joyous characteristics. However, he has always helped me to be my best – from having lunch ready when I come home from training, to rubbing my shoulders when I am too stressed to sleep. He has been with me when I have been at my lowest, and celebrated with me when I have been at my highest. My friends have always been a huge support as well. They have always put up with my schedule and never complained if I have been away at times of weddings, birth of children, and I really look forward to being able to see everyone a lot more.

My coaches have been so wonderful over the years. My first coaches in Saskatoon include Klaus Post, Henrietta Goplen, and Tim Comfort. Those first coaches helped me to dream, have fun, and to work my way to qualify for the National Team. Most recently, my coaches were Sean Ireland, Neal Marshall, and Derrick Auch. They helped me to realize my dreams, still have fun, and learn to deal with success and with disappointment. They helped me to go that tenth or hundredth of a second faster, and helped me to do one more interval, even when I was so tired and stressed that my emotions got the best of me.

My sponsors have supported me in many ways. I would like to thank Aegon Canada, Saskatchewan Blue Cross, AMJ Campbell Van Lines, PowerBar, Roots, Sundog Eyewear, Bell Mobility, Warnaco of Canada and McClelland & Stewart. The financial support has been a huge source of support. The last few years in my speed skating career I have had the opportunity to train full time and not have to worry about keeping another job. The emotional and mental support from my sponsors is huge as well. They have believed in me and I have really appreciated the letters, emails, and faxes that they have sent.

I have so many people to thank for the opportunities that I have had, and the chance to realize my dreams. I would like to start by thanking my home club, the Saskatoon Lions Speed Skating Club, the Olympic Oval, Speed Skate Canada, the National Sport Centre, the Canadian Olympic Committee and so many more. The sport physiologists, the sport psychologists (I kept them busy), the strength trainers, and many more are all a part of my success.

The opportunity to reach children through my success is something that I take considerable pride in. If I have reached even one child – helped them to work harder, or to dream higher, then it has all been more than worthwhile.

I am sad and also excited about what is happening in my life, but the important thing is that I am looking forward to the future. I know that whatever I pursue I will be giving 100%, and I will be accepting my new challenges with as much excitement and drive as I have all through my speed skating career.

I really thank everyone for their love and support over the many years.

Catriona Le May Doan

Greetings everyone!!

Well, what can I say…I am a procrastinator. I have not written an update in quite a while. I have to say I am sorry, but I wanted to update everyone as the start of spring is upon us.

The racing season has been over for just over one month. I have to say that I had a lot of fun during the second part of the racing season – probably the most fun I have ever had. I am not sure why exactly, but with the stress and frustration that I had experienced before Christmas (dealing with my back); I realized that I just had to take things as they came.

I really had a great time at the World Championships that were here in Calgary. I did not have a great weekend of racing, but I had a great weekend in terms of fun, enjoyment, etc. I was still having some problems with my back, and three days before the start of the Championships I got a really bad cold. When things like that happen, I get stressed, upset, and then after a couple of days, you just say “there is nothing that can be done”. I skated as hard as I could, I gave it my all, and I had great support from the crowd. Many friends, family, and supporters came here to cheer myself and the team on, and I really appreciated it. I always want to skate well and have everyone be so proud of me, but I did what I could, and the support that I felt from everyone made the 2003 World Sprint Championships one of the most memorable weekends of my skating career. Our team had some great results. Jeremy Wotherspoon became the 2003 World Sprint Champion and Cindy Klassen was second overall. We were very proud of both of them. During the weekend, the Olympic Oval did a tribute to my contributions to the sport of speed skating, and it was very touching. I really appreciated the whole weekend and I thank everyone who was a part of it.

Our schedule for the racing season was a great one. After the World Championships, we had one month to prepare for the next block of races. We took a few days to recover, and then we started a hard training block which would allow for another peak in Europe. It was nice to have a lot of time at home and be able to enjoy some time with friends that I don’t often see during the winter.

We left for Europe the third week of February and I was very excited for the trip. Bart was able to come on the trip as well which always makes it more enjoyable for me. The trip consisted of two World Cups and the World Single Distance Championships. All of the competitions were in places where I love to skate and I was looking forward to seeing some old friends, and to experience the culture once again. The first World Cup was in Inzell, Germany. Inzell is a beautiful little town in Bavaria. The oval is outdoors and we were so fortunate with the weather the whole week for training as it was sunny and warm. The first day of racing brought some rain, but other than that, the weather was ok. I raced really well and was on the podium for all four races – I even had my first victory of the season in the 100m!

The next stop on the tour was Heerenveen, Holland. It is always a joy to race there as it is the centre of speed skating in the world. The crowd was great as usual – 10,000 screaming, drunk, Dutch fans that just love skating! I raced well there also and because it was a combined World Cup with the all round skaters, we were able to share with them in their victories and great results.

The final stop was in Berlin, Germany. I hadn’t skated there for a few years so I was excited to be there again. I love the ice there and was looking forward to the weekend. This was the Single Distance World Championships which runs for three days and the format are with two 500m on one day. I was racing Saturday and Sunday. I was looking forward to racing, but also to see the rest of the team skate and do well. I had some solid races, but unfortunately I didn’t make the podium. I just missed by a couple of 10th’s in the 500m to finish fourth. I was very proud not only of how I skated all my races, but of the effort that I gave. After my 1000m race, fans from various countries threw flowers, stuffed animals, and cards to me on the ice. It was very special and it meant a lot to me. I was a bit emotional at the end of the weekend, as it had been such a memorable trip and I had enjoyed my time with my team so much. I guess I was starting to contemplate what the future was going to hold and I was a little emotional.

Upon returning to Calgary, my long distance training started – for four days. I had decided to skate a 3000m race in the Olympic Oval Finale competition. I hadn’t raced a 3000m for 10 years and I wanted to skate a personal best. I was extremely nervous before the race. It is a totally different race than a sprint race and I felt like a rookie. It would be like telling a cross country skier to go do a downhill race – it is just the same thing -on skis! Well, ok, a bad example, but you get my point. I ended up skating a pretty good race and getting a 10 second personal best. Yay! It was a success!

The last month has been fun, and also a little crazy. I have been very busy. I was in Toronto and was so honored to be awarded the Canadian Female Athlete of the Year award at the Canadian Sport Awards. I was also in Ottawa, Mexico (for work and rest), and Vancouver. I co-hosted the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Hall of Fame Induction dinner with Steve Podborski. It was a great evening and was able to meet many new people. I was able to stay and visit with my sister and was fortunate enough to be able to see the Vancouver game on Sunday night. It was a lot of fun.

The past month has been a lot of fun and I have been doing some fun activities like playing squash, going for runs along the sea wall in Vancouver, and taking some time to enjoy myself. I have been asked many times what my plans are for the future. At this time I am looking at my options, thinking about my future, and together with Bart, family and friends, I will make some decisions in the upcoming months. I will keep everyone updated.

Until next time, I hope everyone is doing well, that you are enjoying the start of spring (when the snow finally melts), and that you all take care.

All the best,

Catriona Le May Doan