Sport: Canoe-Kayak Sprint
Event: Women’s K-4 500 m
Local Club: Ottawa River & Rideau Canoe Club
By Dan Plouffe
Arne and Judy Schmidt are grateful for the Tokyo Olympic canoe-kayak schedule – they’ll be able to watch their granddaughter Maddy race during the evening back home in North Bay.
Oftentimes, morning races in Europe means they’ve got to be up in the middle of the night to watch their grandchildren compete – and that’s a year-round undertaking with Maddy’s cousins Jared and Hannah racing in international ski cross events – but they tune in every time no matter what the time.
“They’re big, big, big supporters,” underlines Hannah, 26. “They’re always there for us.”
The proud grandparents still go for long bike rides themselves, and count the number of ski runs they do in a year.
“They’re superheroes,” smiles 25-year-old Maddy, who clinched her ticket to Tokyo in March. “They’re such athletes, as grandparents. It’s pretty impressive.”
The elder Schmidts’ love for sport became further amplified when their boys found partners who shared their passion for every outdoor sport under the sun – Bevin (with L.A.) and Brent (with Louise).
“What they all have in common is that they just love to go out and play,” highlights Maddy, whose mom Louise was a national team paddler. “That joy for being outside and, and just being in the elements, that’s something our family has definitely taught us.”
Growing up, Arne and Judy’s Ottawa-based grandchildren were practically inseparable. Along with Maddy’s older brother Emmett, who is now an airplane mechanic, they’d always go camping, paddling or skiing together.
“It is super special to have them so close to home,” signals 23-year-old Jared, who has more cousins around Toronto. “And we’re so fortunate that we’re healthy and all of us share the love for outdoor sports. It’s pretty awesome.”
Maddy’s journey to the Olympics began at the Ottawa River Canoe Club, founded by her aunt L.A. in Dunrobin, and her first competitive paddling partner was of course Hannah.
“We would spend every second together,” recalls Maddy, who still messages her cousins frequently even though sport has drawn them to opposite ends of the country (Maddy in Dartmouth, N.S. and Jared/Hannah in Calgary), not to mention across the globe for competitions.
“Seeing those two thrive in skiing is so neat, and such an inspiration too,” adds Maddy, whose first Olympic K-4 women’s 500-metre race takes place the evening of Aug. 5 in Canada (morning of Aug. 6 in Tokyo).
Six months later, Arne and Judy may well be making similar time zone calculations should Jared and/or Hannah make it to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
Having transitioned from alpine racing, Jared and Hannah are relative newcomers to ski cross and still see 2026 as their greater shot to reach for the rings, but breakthrough performances last season launched them into consideration for the 2022 Canadian Olympic team as well.
“It was super exciting to see Maddy qualify for the Olympics. She’s worked tremendously hard,” Jared stresses. “If we can hopefully get a couple of her cousins at the Winter Olympics, that would be pretty sweet.”