Feb. 4, 2022

Your guide to members of the UCalgary family in Beijing for 2022 Winter Olympics

We have speedskaters, women’s hockey players, a freestyle skier, and a curler. Plus, hockey and snowboarding coaches, ice-makers, doctors, a physiotherapist, and a scorekeeper. Congratulations!
Isabelle Weidemann
Isabelle Weidemann Olympic Oval files

Of all the winter athletes, long-track speedskaters have produced the most Olympic medals for Canada.

Thirty-seven and, presumably, counting.

Not to be discounted is the influence of the University of Calgary and the on-campus Olympic Oval, headquarters of the national team.

UCalgary connections at the 2022 Olympic Games are robust. On site in Beijing are 10 speedskaters, plus the Oval's world-famous ice-makers, a crew of five led by Mark Messer.

"We contribute to the sport of speedskating, which is Canada's most successful medal-winning (winter) sport," says Peter McCrory, director of the Olympic Oval. "That's a testament to the daily training environment, the competition environment, that we're able to provide here in Calgary. We're incredibly proud of the reputation. We pride ourselves on having the fastest ice in the world — behind that is the art and the science of ice-building.

"We're incredibly lucky to have the skills and expertise we have in the Olympic Oval here in Calgary, in the University of Calgary."

Here's a roundup of members of our campus community who are taking part in the 2022 Beijing Olympics. (And if we've missed anyone, please share a few details to utoday@ucalgary.ca.)

UCalgary connections at the Beijing Olympics 

Jordan Belchos — A long-track speedskater who qualified for the men's mass-start and team-pursuit events in Beijing, he is a Bachelor of Arts student with a concentration in urban studies. The native of Toronto is racing at his second Olympics. In 2018, Belchos placed fifth and seventh.

Geoff Carr — A member of the Dinos' game-day staff since 2004 — working as a statistician for football, basketball, volleyball — he was recruited by the International Ice Hockey Federation shortly after the women's world championship. In Beijing, Carr will serve as a technical official for hockey.

Brianne Jenner — In 2017, after graduating from Cornell University, she earned a master's degree in public policy from UCalgary. She's also found time to build on an illustrious hockey career which includes three trips to the Winter Games. In Beijing, Jenner will wear an A for the Canadian women's team.

Graeme Fish — A Faculty of Kinesiology student, the Moose Jaw, Sask., native is appearing at his first Olympics. Fish, a long-track speedskater, will race in the men's 10,000-metre event. In February 2020, he shattered the world record for that distance. A year later, a Swedish skater eclipsed his mark.

Amy Fraser — The Calgarian freestyle skier, who graduated in 2016 with a BSc in biological sciences, is attending her first Olympics. On the World Cup circuit this season, the halfpipe specialist has finished in the top 10 three times, including a career-best sixth place in December in Calgary.

Alexandra Vafina

Alexandra Vafina

David Moll, Dinos Athletics

Mark Heard — An orthopedic surgeon working in Banff, Dr. Heard, MD'86, is an associate professor in the Department of Surgery, Cumming School of Medicine. He’s working as a surgeon with Alpine Canada in Beijing. 

Connor Howe — The Canmore native is in the Faculty of Science, studying math. A first-time Olympian, he'll speedskate in three long-track races — men's 1,000, 1,500 metres, team pursuit. Howe bagged his first World Cup medal in December, earning silver in the 1,500 at Calgary.

Marsha Hudey — A three-time Olympian, she graduated in 2014 with a degree in community rehabilitation/disability studies from the Faculty of Arts. Hudey, a long-track speedskater, is entered in the women's 500-metre race in Beijing. Her best finish at the Winter Games is 10th four years ago at PyeongChang.

Mark Jesney The University Sport Medicine Centre physiotherapist is in Beijing with long- and short-track speedskaters. Jesney is a former national team speedskater and has a BSc in exercise, health and physiology from the University of Calgary in 2005. 

Gilmore Junio — A former student in the Faculty of Kinesiology, the Calgary speedskater is racing the men's long-track 500 metres in Beijing, his third appearance at the Olympics. At Sochi in 2014, he placed 10th. Junio got his start in the sport nearly 20 years ago at an Olympic Oval talent camp.

Brad Kirkwood — Since 2010, the Red Deer native has been part of the Dinos' coaching staff. In charge of the netminders, he works with both the men's and the women's programs. Now, with Team Canada's women's team, Kirkwood is working his second Winter Games. He was in PyeongChang in 2018.

Michaela Kopka — A clinical lecturer in the Department of Surgery, Cumming School of Medicine, Dr. Kopka, MD, PGME'15, is an orthopedic surgeon based in Banff. She’s in Beijing working as a surgeon with Canada Snowboard.  

Tyson Langelaar — Pursuing an urban studies degree from the Faculty of Arts, the Winnipeg native, after a very successful junior career, will make his Olympic debut in Beijing. The long-track speedskater will compete in the men's 1,500 metres and team-pursuit events.

Victor Lun — The physician, based at the UCalgary Sport Medicine Centre, is part of the Canadian team in Beijing, where he is charged with caring for Canada's racers in bobsleigh, skeleton, and luge. Lun, who also works with national team speedskaters and the Dinos football team, contributed to the 2008 and 2010 Olympics.

Brooklyn McDougall — A 2021 graduate, BSc in biological sciences from the Faculty of Science, the Calgary speedskater has designs on a master's degree. Qualifying for her first Olympics, McDougall will race in the women's 500 metres, an event in which she's national champion.

Heather McLean — The Winnipeg native, who enrolled in sociology at UCalgary, is speedskating in her second Olympics, after placing 14th and 25th in PyeongChang. McLean, who made her World Cup debut in 2013-14, will race in the women's 500 metres in Beijing.

David Manning — A 2006 graduate of the UCalgary medical school, he co-founded Group23 Sports Medicine, a clinic based at WinSport. Now, as a go-to physician for Team Canada, Manning has worked many international hockey tournaments, including this one in Beijing, his second Olympic appearance.

Mark Messer — Recognized as the finest ice-maker in the world, the Olympic Oval's operations manager is in demand. This Winter Games assignment — his sixth — necessitated a dozen trips to Beijing. Helping him in China is a four-man crew with Oval ties — Andy Yardy, Dylan Rama, BA'16, Justin Murphy, and Matt Messer.

Maddison Pearman — A guest relations representative at the Olympic Oval, the Ponoka, Alta., native is bound for her first Winter Games. Pearman is entered in the women's 1,000 and 1,500 metres in long-track speedskating, and is also a coach for the local branch of the Special Olympics.

Jocelyn Peterman — The Red Deer native earned a Bachelor of Kinesiology from UCalgary in 2015 before working as a research assistant at the Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre. Playing second for the Jennifer Jones rink in women's curling, Peterman is competing at her first Olympics.

Alexandra Vafina — In three years as a UCalgary student, she was a regular for the Dinos women's hockey team. In 2015-16, Vafina collected 35 points in 28 games, en route to being named an All-Canadian. On behalf of Russia, Vafina is skating in her second Olympic Games.

Isabelle Weidemann — Enrolled in the Faculty of Science, studying natural sciences, the Ottawa native is competing at her second Olympics. She's entered in three women's events — team pursuit, 5,000 and 3,000 metres. In PyeongChang, Weidemann placed fourth, sixth, seventh.

Chris Witwicki — A 2008 graduate with a bachelor in business, tourism management and marketing from UCalgary, he is the lead freestyle coach for the Canadian snowboard team at the Beijing Olympics. For 13 years, Witwicki has been guiding high-performance athletes in Vancouver and Calgary.

Maddison Pearman

Maddison Pearman

Olympic Oval files

Events will be livestreamed on cbc.ca. Check out the CBC's events schedule and results.