What really counts ~ Passion/Patin/Vitesse - Passion/Speed/Skating


8 avril 2020

What really counts

A text by Rémi Beaulieu
Photos: Rémi Beaulieu's personnal collection and Andrea Pók

My first international trip to represent Canada was not for a World Cup. I was with a dozen other skaters,  all about 20 years old and we were members of the national development team at the time. Our coach, Hungarian Janos Englert, wanted to take us on a journey to prepare us to compete overseas.

So we flew to Europe. The plan was to compete in two competitions, a Star Class in France and the Alta Valtellina Trophy in Italy. We had to drive between the two cities, which required crossing part of Europe from north to south, through the Alps, by car.

When I was a teenager, I never thought it was possible to make a living out of short track speed skating. I never even thought that one day I could become a member of the Canadian national team, one of the best teams in the world at the time or that skating would take me to other continents. 

I was like every other young athlete. I had the desire to win, to become better, to go as far as possible and although the desire to give great performances brought me a lot of stress, performing was all I had in mind.

This trip to Europe had no real value in terms of results. It's easy to forget the present moment and fall into the abyss hiding behind the desire to perform at all costs. All athletes must fight to find balance. The reality is that you win some and lose some.

The second week of our trip was in Bormio, a small Alpine village in the northwest of Italy. We were staying in a small hostel. The arena was located a short ten minutes walk down the village.

I grew up in a small town in northern Quebec and had to leave home at a young age to train in Montreal. Having to leave my family and friends shaped the rest of my career. I had ambition but at no time did I thought skating would get me to a small Italian village. I remember the view we had facing the valley when we arrived in front of the arena from our hostel. This moment is clear in my mind as if it was yesterday. 
Before getting inside, I wanted to take a minute to appreciate the moment. The view on the valley. The majestic mountains. The fresh air. The trees' smell. The fact that I was there, on another continent, facing the most extraordinary landscape I had ever seen. I also wanted to take a moment to realise that the only thing I had to do that day was get on my skates and race. Even today, when I close my eyes, I still have the sight, the smell and the feeling that I had at that moment.

After that trip, I never had any medals hanging in my house. When I arrived from any competition, they were placed in a box, even the ones I won in World Cup events. They've been in a closet at my mother's house for a long time but my memories of traveling to France, Germany, China, Japan, the images, the smells, the emotions, the friendships they are always with me.

Rémi Beaulieu
Kinesiologist. 12X World Cup medallist in short track speed skating for Team Canada. Speed skating coach for 6 years from regional level to international level.
Website: remibsc.com

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