Red Deer, Alta.
A chilly -17C is forecast for the opening speed skating competition at the 2019 Canada Winter Games on Saturday, but Brooklyn McDougall and her fellow competitors will be fire on ice on the outdoor oval at Great Chief Park in Red Deer, Alta.
“We raced here a couple of weeks ago and the ice was perfect — really fast,” says McDougall, 20, of Calgary. “Ultimately I hope to bring some hardware home for Alberta. If I race the way I’ve been training and keep it simple, I’ll do well. I’m just taking in the whole experience at a multi-sport event and plan to enjoy the whole week.”
The Team Alberta skater is a member of the national development team and trains out of the Olympic Oval at the University of Calgary. She is the reigning national junior champion in 500 metres, placed second at 1,000 metres and third in the 3,000 metres. Add in today’s 1,500 metres, the mass start and team pursuit (with teammates Anna Bourgeois, Kayla McNeely, Cassidy Pederson) over the next five days and there are a lot of medal possibilities.
Emmanuelle Côté is one of the top ranked long track skaters in Quebec.
“Brooklyn McDougall is one of the Next Gen athletes on the national team – she’s the one to beat,” says Côté, 18, the daughter of former national white-water paddler Martin Côté. “But I think Quebec has a pretty good team. We will be strong for the pursuit.”
Côté says she is very excited to take part in the ceremony and live in the Games village. “We have a lot of competitions, but Canada Games is more about the mood and the vibe of having all the athletes together. I’d love to go see the short track and maybe the freestyle skiing while I am here.”
A biological-sciences student at the University of Calgary, McDougall hopes to become a physician one day. She has spent the past three summers assisting researchers at Calgary Foothills Hospital with their work on stroke and dementia. It’s a subject that she is keenly aware of after fellow speedskater Denny Morrison, an Olympic champion, suffered a stroke in 2016.
“Heart and stroke research is so important because it is one of the leading causes of death in Canada,” says McDougall. “I know people who have suffered a stroke and it’s hard to see people you love going through tough situation.”
McDougall says she is passionate about many aspects of life, including sport and the lessons it teaches. “I’m able to use those lessons in school, in life, in my relationships,” she says. “Being at multisport games like the Canada Winter Games, you can see how much work has been put in and it’s pretty amazing to connect all those things together.”
Long track competition runs until Feb. 20. at the Canada Winter Games outdoor oval at Great Chief Park.
Athletes: Speedskating LT
Brooklyn McDougall, 20