Bobsleigh/Skeleton Elite Amateur Sport Hockey

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Ottawa’s Mike Evelyn trades his hockey blades for longer blades on the Canadian bobsleigh team

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-at-Home Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic

By Martin Cleary

Twenty Ottawa and area swimmers are on the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic radar, 16 have received trials’ invites and seven are eyeing the 2021 Tokyo Games.

The modified Canadian Olympic and Paralympic swimming trials are slated for April 7-11 in Toronto, after a three-day, pre-meet training period. There will be a maximum of 20 swimmers in each event.

Strictly following all COVID-19 safety protocols, including physical distancing, all races will be timed finals as each event will have two 10-swimmer competitions. There will be no spectators.

Swimming Canada recently issued its initial list ranking the top 30 athletes in each Olympic event based on long-course race results from Sept. 1, 2018 to Dec. 6, 2020. Trial invitations were sent to the top 20.

The deadline for first-round acceptances was Friday, Jan. 15, and, depending on what races the swimmers select, more invitations could be extended in the second round, beginning Jan. 20.

Eli Wall. File photo

Montana Champagne and Regan Rathwell, both of the Greater Ottawa Kingfish Swim Club, Eli Wall of Toronto Swim Club, Ottawa’s Alexandre Perreault, Smiths Falls’ Bailey Andison of Perth Stingrays Aquatic Club, and Pembroke’s Alyson Ackman of Pointe-Claire S.C. will press for an Olympic berth.

Two-time Paralympian Camille Berube of Natation Gatineau is the only National Capital Region swimmer in the Paralympic swim trials, which will have 44 world-ranked qualifiers.


~~~~~~~~~ Advertisement ~~~~~~~~~


~~~~~~~~~ Advertisement ~~~~~~~~~

Champagne has achieved the FINA B Olympic qualifying time standard in the 400-metre IM (4:21.40) and 200m butterfly (1:59.21), where he’s ranked No. 2 in Canada for both races and is No. 4 in the 200m IM (2:02.09).

“He has had a really good year so far,” said his former University of Ottawa coach Dave Heinbuch. “He’s on the outside a little bit, but we’re hopeful.”

He’s about 2.5 to 3 seconds off FINA A standard in his 200m races.

Wall, a Toronto Titans International Swimming League team member, is No. 2 in Canada in 200m breaststroke (2:12.80) and No. 3 in 100m breaststroke (1:01.70), which are both FINA B standards.

Perreault, who represented Canada at the 2018 world short-course championships and 2019 Universiade, has the B standard in the 100m butterfly (53.47) and is ranked No. 3 nationally.

Andison, who posted good short-course results inside the International Swimming League bubble, is No. 3 and No. 5 respectively in the 200m IM (2:11.33, A standard) and 400m IM (4:45.20, B).

Ackman, a triple medallist at the 2019 Lima Pan-Am Games, has national top-10 rankings in six freestyle races, including five FINA B standards. She’s one to three seconds off the A standard over 100m, 200m and 400m.

Rathwell, who has committed to the University of Tennessee for 2022 and raced the 200m backstroke A final at the 2019 Canadian world championships trials, is ranked No. 5 in 200m back (2:12.39, B), and No. 9 in 100m back (1:01.16, B).

Berube, who competed at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics, is ranked No. 6 in the world in the SM7 class 200m IM. She also will race in S7 backstroke and S6 breaststroke races at the trials.

University of Ottawa Gee-Gees’ Lauren Shearer (200m breaststroke), William Barrett (200m breaststroke), Louis Bertrand (400m freestyle) and Conor Smythe (200m backstroke) will be looking to crack the top 8 at trials.

The top-20 rankings also include five swimmers from the Nepean-Kanata Barracudas Swim Club: Madison Archer, 800m/1,500m freestyle; Mia Zahab, 200m butterfly/400m IM; Megan Wheeler, 200m backstroke; David Quirie, 200m/800m/1,500m freestyle; and Colton Milne, 200m breaststroke.

Hoping for a top-20 promotion after qualified swimmers make their choices are: Gee-Gees’ Adelle Yamashita-Ball, 800m freestyle, and Jamie Demers, men’s 100m breaststroke; Barracudas’ Breckin Gormley, 100m butterfly; and Swim Ottawa’s Gabriel Tejada, 100m butterfly.

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for over 47 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.

Martin can be reached by e-mail at martincleary51@gmail.com and on Twitter @martincleary.

Mike Evelyn. Photo: Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton

By Martin Cleary

If you were to put a title on Mike Evelyn’s athletic career to this point, it would have to be: Blades and Ice. For two decades, he was a high-level competitive hockey player, skating in the Central Canada Hockey League and for the Dalhousie University Tigers.

But today, his hockey sticks and equipment bag are in storage somewhere as he has become a member of the Canadian men’s bobsleigh team, travelling mighty fast on much longer blades down narrow and dangerous ice chutes.

After the fourth of his five years with the Dalhousie Tigers, the Ottawa native attended the RBC Training Ground finals in Atlantic Canada. His physical testing results were impressive and he was recruited by Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton.

In the spring of 2018, he flew to Calgary for a one-week session of sliding and learning to pilot a sled. He fell in love with the speed and the sport. But first things first. He returned to Dalhousie to complete his engineering degree and hockey career in 2018-19.

Evelyn played 127 career games for the Tigers and collected 22 goals, 14 assists and 182 penalty minutes as a forward. In four CCHL seasons with Nepean Raiders (2010-12) and Ottawa Junior Senators (2012-14), he had 149 games, 25 goals, 49 assists, 128 PIM.

Evelyn, 27, joined the national bobsleigh team for the 2019-20 season and successfully raced on the North American circuit. He had six two-man bobsleigh races with pilot Patrick Norton, which was highlighted by one fourth- and three sixth-place finishes.

He pushed for pilot Taylor Austin in his only four-man assignment and earned a victory at Park City, Utah. In his second, third and fourth two-man races with Norton, they significantly improved the time differential between their sled and the winner each time.

The 6-3.5 and 230-pound Evelyn also has been selected to the national team for this season and he’s aiming to compete in both the two- and four-man 2021 World Cup competitions with pilot Chris Spring in Europe. He feels bobsleigh is the perfect athletic fit for him.

Mike Evelyn at the Whistler Sliding Centre. Photo: Instagram

“I thought it was for me,” said Evelyn, after attending his bobsledding initiation in Calgary 2.5 years ago. “I motorcycle, too. I get the same rush (bobsledding). But with bobsleigh, we don’t have vehicles to crash into.”

During the 2020-21 national team tryouts, Evelyn “exceeded expectations.” “I love the speed, going fast, the lifestyle, sprinting, lifting and the team culture. I missed that after I retired from hockey,” added Evelyn, who doesn’t drink coffee, but loves milkshakes.

When Evelyn was young, his favourite movie was Cool Runnings, which featured the Jamaican bobsled team. “I could recite the lines verbatim. Probably seen it 12 to 20 times. But I had a lot of misconceptions about bobsleigh from watching that movie.”

But now that Evelyn is living his own version of Cool Runnings, he’s learning all about the chilly and bone chilling sport first hand. “We’re glorified sprinters and then a sack of potatoes. We have no view. There’s no cardio required,” he said.

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for over 47 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.

Martin can be reached by e-mail at martincleary51@gmail.com and on Twitter @martincleary.


This story was made possible thanks to our advertising partners. We encourage you to support these groups who are dedicated to grassroots sport in our community!

Leave a Reply