Vincent De Haître has big dreams on two wheels ~ Passion/Patin/Vitesse - Passion/Speed/Skating


20 mai 2018

Vincent De Haître has big dreams on two wheels

From the Olympic Oval in Calgary to the Mattamy National Cycling Centre in Milton, ON – Vincent De Haître is a talented dual-sport athlete who looks to build on his previous successes in track cycling during the offseason this summer.

By:  Maria Dalton
Photos by: Schaats Foto’s, Lauriane Genest (@laurianegenest44) & Vincent De Haître’s personal Instagram

Two-time Olympian Vincent De Haître started skating short track at the age of six before making the switch to long track when he moved to Calgary after finishing high school. His breakout season came in 2013-2014 when he competed at his first world cup and qualified, much to his surprise, for the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi. Perhaps most notably, he broke the 1000m Canadian record at the 2017 World Sprint Championships in Calgary, eclipsing the previous mark set my Jeremy Wotherspoon.

Not only is De Haître a force to be reckoned with on skates, but he also excels on two wheels at the velodrome. The current 1000m Canadian record holder competed at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow as a member of team Canada’s track cycling squad.  Eager to take part in as many Olympic Games as possible, the 23-year-old from Cumberland, Ontario is looking to make his dream of attending the 2020 games in Tokyo a reality by shifting his focus from skating to track cycling during the off season this summer.

Trading blades for two wheels

“This is going to be a bit more of a serious go at it.” he said of his goal to attend the 2020 games. With the offseason now underway, De Haître is planning his move to Milton, ON where he will spend the summer away from the oval and on the track - “I’m going to give it a serious try and obviously if it doesn’t go well or I’m not fit for it then I’m going to find out by the end of the summer.” He has previously represented Canada in track cycling at the 2014 Commonwealth games in Glasgow, where he only trained specifically for cycling for a month and a half beforehand. He is adamant that if he doesn’t feel competitive in the sport after the summer, that he doesn’t want to take up a spot that could potentially go to someone else. Although it’s hard to say how his training this summer will pan out, his goal is clear: “I want to find out if I’m competitive and if I actually bring something to the team. And if I do, then I want to stay because I mean, I want to go to as many Olympics as possible.”

When asked about the potential trade-offs he could be making by training for one sport over another he had this to say, “I’m hoping we can work something out where I can either do both or maintain some sort of fitness, because physiologically I’m not the most ‘snappy’ person, so there’s no point in only doing snappy stuff if I’m never going to be that great at it. But at the same time, I can’t just do endurance and expect to be fast.” Although Vincent De Haître trains with the endurance guys for skating, he says that in cycling the programs are a lot more divided. That’s why it’s going to be important for him to sit down with the coaches and find out what program they want to put him in. When asked about his prospects in terms of what kind of distances we can expect to see him racing he said this, “I think it would be easier to be a team pursuit cyclist and come back to speed skating, because you’ll always have the base to work from. As a sprinter you have a lot of power, but in speed skating as much as it looks like a power sport it’s actually a sustained power sport because if you go 100% you’re probably going to skate bad, so it’s about how well you can hold 80%. And then in cycling it’s all about giving 100% in sprinting.”

Learning from the past, building for the future

In the beginning it wasn’t always easy for the young man from Milton to enjoy the competition, “picture a horse in a stable, and they only take him out for the race, and the rest is just training, and I almost felt like that […] It created this very negative emotional energy around who I was or who I thought I was.” Over the years he has learned to understand the value in sometimes doing things that don’t seem like they’re going to help you, because in the end that’s what makes you a well-rounded person. De Haître has found lots of success in recent seasons, and talked about how he has learned to better prepare himself mentally for competition: “Racing itself takes a lot of physical energy obviously, but the emotional energy around trying to get yourself mentally prepared to give everything you have is something that is incredibly exhausting. But it’s something that I’ve been able to almost, to a point, master.”

When speaking about his previous Olympic and Commonwealth games experiences he says: “It was knowledge that I couldn’t have gotten any other way.” He hopes to use this experience and knowledge as he moves forward in his career in both cycling, and skating. His goal is to become a consistent top five world cup athlete, and although he finished ranked 7th overall in the 1000m in the World cup standings this season and had some really good races, he also had some bad ones - “Essentially my goal is to have those good performances but just make those bad ones more consistent, which is what I’ve been achieving this last year. And now the goal is to take that knowledge and experience and see if it directly translates to performances in a similar sport.”

One must wonder if such a talented athlete always knew he was going to compete on the world stage, and when asked to recall such a moment, he shared this touching anecdote: “when we’d drive home (from practice), we’d drive by the post office and sometimes my dad would give me the keys to go and get the mail out. Then one day I asked him ‘how do you know if you’re going to the Olympics?’ and my dad said, ‘well you probably get a letter in the mail’, so then every time I’d get to open the mail I was super excited, hoping to get that letter.”

“And I finally did this year.” He said with a chuckle, “Just kidding, they don’t send you a letter.”

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