Jamie Macdonald: a quiet strength from the West ~ Passion/Patin/Vitesse - Passion/Speed/Skating


3 février 2018

Jamie Macdonald: a quiet strength from the West

Short track speed skating in Canada has been mostly an eastern based sport since it made its debut at the 1988 Olympic games in Calgary as a demonstration event. Some amazing athletes such as Jessica Gregg and Jessica Hewitt came out from the West, but with the National training center based at the Maurice-Richard arena in Montreal, short track seems to have always bring more interest in Ontario and Quebec. With Gregg and Hewitt now retired, the West may have found its new lighthouse: Jamie Macdonald.

By Carl Savard
Photos by Schaats Foto's, Carl Savard, Julie Macdonald and Cathy Turnbull-Spence

For those who were not in Montreal last August for the 2018 Canadian short track speed skating team selections, Jamie Macdonald’s performances through the five days, six finals process could be summarized in one word: constancy. Just like her teammate Kasandra Bradette, she completed the competition with  30 400 points but was ranked one spot over Bradette on a tie breaker. At 23, Macdonald is part of the new wave of Canadian short track speed skaters. Before she left for her first Olympic games, I wanted to know more about the quiet strength from the West. “I’m part of a very active family. As a kid, I did a whole bunch of different sports. I played volleyball in high school and soccer during summer time. I also road horses, I even had a pony. We had trails right by our house so we would go hiking and mountain biking. I was around six years old when I started short track speed skating. My family and I had just moved to Fort St.James, British Columbia and we were looking for different sports to try and our neighbor recommended speed skating. I gave it a try and fell in love with it. At around fourteen or fifteen I started cutting on other sports and at sixteen I moved to Calgary to train full time and put all my focus on skating."

While in Calgary she had the opportunity to train with Jessica Gregg and it is clear in the tone of her voice when she talks about it that this was an important encounter in her career. “Jess is amazing. She’s the nicest person in the world and she’s a great role model. She went through a few struggles in her career but she was always positive and strong. She was just so passionate about her sport and she was a great person for me to look up too. I was a young skater when I arrived in Calgary and her attitude showed me that as long as you are having fun, even at the highest level, you will be more willing to focus on the little details and it’s not going to feel like a job.” Little details often turn into huge differences in short track and Macdonald confesses that even though she is quite a perfectionist, she tries to never overanalyze things. She learned early in her career that she is more efficient when she is relax and in the moment instead of being pumped up and trying hard passes or other crazy moves. This personality trait as a skater makes her a dark horse in this highly exciting sport. A quiet strength just waiting to beat you when you forget about her.

"Quiet" is a word that definitely fits the athlete from British Columbia and she is fine with that. “I am a quiet and shy person. I don’t have the big personality that some of my teammates have. I prefer to let my actions speak for themselves. I want to go out there and win. I want to show the world what I’m capable of and I don’t think I need a big personality to do that.”  If she didn’t make wave during the 2018 Canadian short track speed skating team selections last August, she knows the chance to skate at the Olympic games may be a one time opportunity. Four years is a long time and a lot can happen between two Olympics. “I like to skate clean and prepare every move but I’m also highly competitive. During the trials, I was definitely trying to play it a little safe, making sure I could secure my spot on the team but for the Olympics, I’m gonna go for it. I’m not gonna hold anything back. I did an assignment in school when I was probably eleven or twelve years old and I wrote that I pictured myself going to the Olympics. It’s kind of a crazy feeling. I’ve been dreaming about this pretty much my entire life.”

I am Jamie Louise Macdonald
I imagine myself going to the Olympics
I feel glad when I accomplish things
I dream about my future
I hope to be successful
-Jamie, 11 years old

As announced on January 24, Jamie Macdonald will compete on 500m at the Olympics and the qualifying stage on the distance starts on Saturday, February 10. She will also compete alongside her teammates as part of the Canadian relay team and based on their successes this season, they should be battling in the main final on Tuesday, February 20.

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