By Dan Plouffe, Martin Cleary & Ethan Diamandas (This article was first sent to subscribers of the Ottawa at the Olympics Daily Newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter, for free, here.)
The 2022 Winter Games officially ended in Beijing yesterday, and with it came the conclusion of our Ottawa at the Paralympics coverage.
And it’s been three weeks since the curtain was closed on the Olympic Winter Games, but today we wanted to bring you one final treat that we’re calling our Champions Edition.
Ottawa had three gold medallists at the Olympics – hockey player Jamie Lee Rattray and speed skaters Ivanie Blondin and Isabelle Weidemann – and they’ve each had wildly different experiences since winning the biggest prize in sport.
For gold and silver medallist Blondin, returning to Canada with a pair of prizes reflecting a lifetime of work didn’t feel quite as triumphant as the script for a dream-come-true fairytale goes.
“The post-Olympic blues is real,” Blondin highlighted in an interview with the Ottawa Sports Pages’ Dan Plouffe. “I thought coming home with two medals that I would have a different feeling. But I still went into that dark place where I just I didn’t want to see anyone, I didn’t want to do anything, I had a hard time even dog walking at that point.”
Blondin has been open about her mental health battles during her quest to the best. She recognizes that her performances this season are a big accomplishment, and she also realizes she needs to take some time to relax, though in her world, that means trying her hand at a few road and track cycling races this summer.
You can read Blondin’s full story here.
Blondin finished off her season with the World Cup Final this past weekend in The Netherlands. Weidemann had planned to join her there, but COVID finally caught her after two years of travels around the globe during the pandemic.
After testing positive a week before the races, Weidemann took six COVID tests, but her levels hadn’t dropped low enough come her planned Thursday departure from Calgary.
“I had values that looked promising,” Weidemann noted in an interview with High Achievers columnist Martin Cleary. “Do I risk taking a flight? I talked it over with my coach. I’ve had an incredible season.
“I’m under the weather. I got sick for sure, but not that sick. I definitely couldn’t have skated well this weekend. I was going to the (start) line to pick up (World Cup) points.
“Honestly, I got very lucky (over the past two years). COVID is not what I wanted to end the year. At least I’m at home and not stuck in Europe or abroad. I’m home with my family.”
Weidemann’s gold, silver and bronze Olympic medals came with some nice cash bonuses, though her plans for the dough were far more judicious than extravagant.
You can also read Weidemann’s full story here.
Rattray got to experience “one of the coolest moments since the Olympics that I’ve had” yesterday, she shared in an interview with the Sports Pages’ Ethan Diamandas. Rattray and her Canadian teammates were invited up on stage to sing O Canada before the puck drop of the Heritage Classic outdoor game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres in Hamilton.
A day earlier, she’d been back on the ice for a Rivalry Rematch game against USA in Pittsburgh. Team chemistry was just as high as it was during the Olympics – as if the squad “never left and never had any time off,” Rattray indicated – as Canada won 4-3 in overtime.
The contest was organized by the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association, whose mission is “to promote, advance, and support a single, viable professional women’s ice hockey league in North America that showcases the greatest product of women’s professional ice hockey in the world.”
The contest reminded Rattray of why she was inspired to battle so hard in the sport of hockey, and how important it’ll be to inspire another generation of young female players.
“It’s more important now than ever to keep pushing it forward and trying to get a league here, so that those girls have something to look forward to when they do start to grow up,” she underlined.
You can read Rattray’s story here as well.
As we now officially bring our coverage of the Beijing 2022 Winter Games to a close, we would like to bring your attention to that little graphic above for the Ottawa Sports Pages Fund.
If you’ve enjoyed our coverage and are able to contribute, we’d love if you could consider donating to the Fund via OttawaSportsPages.ca/Donate
This initiative was launched at our 10th Anniversary Celebrations alongside the Ottawa Community Foundation and will be instrumental in helping us continue to shine a light on local sport for the next 10 years and beyond.
Donations are eligible for a charitable tax receipt and will be matched by OCF up to $5,000.
After producing a total of 30 days of during the Olympics and Paralympics, we’ll now be returning to our usual bi-weekly Saturday Sports Pages email newsletter schedule.
With COVID restrictions lifting, we’ll have lots to report on back home from the high school, university and community sport ranks, which you can always followed at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
If you’re looking for a bit of March Break reading, you may enjoy looking back on all those great local Olympic and Paralympic moments we’ve enjoyed over the past month and a half:
Thank you again for joining us on this journey!
(This article was first sent to subscribers of the Ottawa at the Olympics Daily Newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter, for free, here.)
HELP SHINE A LIGHT ON LOCAL SPORT! The Ottawa Sports Pages has proudly provided a voice for local sport for 10 years, but we need your help to continue another 10 and beyond. Please donate to the new Ottawa Sports Pages Fund today.