Olympic Trials & Giving it Everything

At last, the long-anticipated Olympic and U23 World Championship Trials races are over. Right now, I’m sitting by the window seat at the Stewart-Jones house in Chelsea, Quebec, relaxing and catching up on some much-needed rest after the whirlwind of racing.

Trials finished two days ago, so without further ado, here is the good news and the bad news.

First, the bad news: I did not meet the selection criteria to qualify for Team Canada for the 2018 Winter Olympics. It was a very tight battle, where I narrowly missed getting selected for both the sprint and distance spots, but despite pushing as hard as I absolutely could in every race, unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough. Although the full team won’t be announced until late January, at the moment Canada is only sending 4 women to compete in cross-country skiing, and I am not one of them.

 

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Game face on– staying focused during the 10km classic. Photo: Mario Walker

 

It’s hard to describe the disappointment and heartbreak of having worked so hard towards a goal for so many years, and then not achieving it. I wanted to represent my hometown Athabasca at the Olympics, to show that achieving your dreams is possible no matter where you come from. I wanted to show that athletes can come back from serious injuries and still achieve their goals. Becoming an Olympian has been a dream of mine since I was 10 years old, and although I know I will get another chance to try again in four years, right now that seems like a long time from now.

 

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Lying on the ground at the finish line, gasping for air after I gave everything I had in the 10km classic. Photo: Pierre Shanks

 

However, I know that I gave absolutely everything I had to give in these selection races and had some of my best performances in many years. There was an incredible amount of pressure heading into these races, and I’m really happy that I was able to perform on demand over and over again. I did everything I could to achieve my goal, although it will take time for the disappointment to go away, I am proud of my efforts and have no regrets. The career of a cross-country skier is a long one; I know that to achieve my goals in the long term, I will need to learn from this and keep working hard year after year, and eventually the results will come.

Now, the good news: I have qualified to compete for Canada at the 2018 World U23 Championships in Switzerland! This is my last year competing as a U23 athlete, and these championships also feature two of my favourite types of races: a skate sprint and a 10km classic individual start. I can’t wait to put on my red and white suit and compete for Canada!

I’ll be leaving on Sunday with the rest of the Canadian World Junior/U23 Team to attend a short training camp in France prior to heading to Switzerland for the Championships. After that, I’ll be staying in central Europe for the rest of February to gain more international racing experience at a Swiss Cup, an OPA Cup, and at German National Championships.

 

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On the podium after the classic sprint– a bittersweet moment after having narrowly missed earning the Olympic sprint spot.

 

Finally, I want to thank everyone who has supported me on this journey so far. To my family, friends, coaches, sponsors, and support staff– thank you. I would not have come this far without you, and I can’t wait to see what the next chapter in skiing holds!

My next blog post will be after U23 World Championships in early February, so until then, happy skiing!

Maya

 


4 thoughts on “Olympic Trials & Giving it Everything

  1. Hi Maya,

    After working with your Nonna these last few months I feel like I know you somewhat. I have been following your path to the Olympics with much excitement and your efforts are to be commended. You win no matter what the placing. I have shared your progress with my daughters and granddaughters who are all cheering for you. Your momment is yet to come.

    I’m your 2nd cousin twice removed. My mother is Olga Violini, 1st cousin to your great grandfather Ferdinando. About 110 years ago my grandfather Antonio & his brother Giovanni came to Canada and settled in the Bow Valley working at the mines in Bankhead. Banff, Canmore (where I was born) & Exshaw (where I lived) were major places in my growing up and are full of family history.

    Your journey to the Olympics is still in progress, I believe you have all the skills to get there. You make us all proud!

    Barry

    1. Hi Barry, thank you so much for the kind words, and also thank you for all the hard work you have done on our family tree! Nonna gave each of us grandkids a copy of part of the family tree this Christmas, and it was amazing to be able to see so much of our family history. Since I live in Canmore now, it has also been really fun to learn how much of my family history is tied to the Bow Valley. All the best to you and your family, I’m sure we will end up meeting at some point in the future! 🙂

  2. Maya, your story/journey is moving – it brought me to tears – you are truly an inspiration!!! Congratulations on all your amazing accomplishments! You have done Canada, Alberta, & Athabasca proud. Well done!!!!

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