WE’VE GOT YOUR BACK
MEET YOUR MENTORS: PART 2
No matter what happens between now and your flight home from PyeongChang, there is one thing you can count on: It will be an adventure. Ups. Downs. Exhilaration. Disappointment. Nobody can truly predict the emotion you will feel. But, your PyeongChang 2018 Athlete Mentors can certainly relate. And no matter what, they’ve got your back.
In Part 1 of this Meet Your Mentors series you learned about Julien and Catriona; how their Olympic experiences and personalities can help guide you though your own adventure. Now is your chance to meet Vincent Marquis and Jeane Lassen, two incredible Olympians eager to share, listen and talk about what this adventure is all about.
Growing up in an athletic family and becoming an international force on the freestyle ski circuit, Vincent’s story is inspiring. Believing life is way too short, the bilingual Quebec City native turned his Olympic journey into something special and is dedicated to helping you do the same. And Jeane, well, you could say she is a powerhouse. More than that, the Olympic weightlifter is a natural leader who re-wrote the Canadian story for women in her sport with her incredible results and personality. In their interviews below, you will find some insight, perspective and hopefully some inspiration to relate to your own Olympic journey.
PLEASED TO MEET YOU!
Sport: Freestyle Skiing – Moguls
Olympic Games: Vancouver 2010
Best results: 4th
Retired from the sport: 2010
Hometown: Québec City, Québec
Family: Wife and daughter, Élizabeth (2 ½)
Current occupation: Physiotherapist
What should somebody definitely ask you about when connecting for the first time?
VINCENT: How I’m doing in my hockey pool.
JEANE: How I met LeBron James at the London Games.
What is the one thing you would tell your Olympic-rookie self?
VINCENT: Enjoy it; this will be the greatest experience of your life! It’s your time to shine!
JEANE: You are definitely not the only one on the team who is thinking what you are thinking or feeling how you are feeling right now. Don’t be shy to share your thoughts and feelings!
What blew your mind at your first Games?
VINCENT: How big it is … and how quickly it goes by.
JEANE: All the screens. I’d catch myself watching things happening on big screen TVs rather than paying attention to everything around me and really soaking in all aspects. I knew that the Olympic Games would be very different than the World Championships, but I didn’t think I would be trying to watch them in a way that felt familiar — as a spectator rather than a participant!
“Feeling supported gave me a great deal of confidence and better prepared me for the unknown.”
What disappointed you at your first Games?
VINCENT: I was disappointed in myself for being too conservative during qualifying rounds.
JEANE: At the Games I went to, we didn’t focus enough on the importance of an athlete’s well being. Considering individual strengths and differences was not at the forefront of Team Canada’s support. I am pumped that this has shifted.
What is one thing you appreciated about being around experienced Olympians during Games?
VINCENT: To hear about their personal experiences, how they manage the pressure. Feeling supported gave me a great deal of confidence and better prepared me for the unknown.
JEANE: Being around Olympians that had lived through the intense stress and emotions of the Games was very reassuring. Being able to talk about what their Games experiences brought to their lives several years, even decades after the competition was over, was nice to know during the uncomfortable moments at the Games.
What have the Games taught you about life that you put into practice every day?
VINCENT: The Games taught me to live in the present moment, to manage my emotions and perform well in what I do. I learned to focus not only on the result, but also on the process in the course of pursuing my goals.
JEANE: That the journey is the reward.
What was the most stressful situation you faced at a Games and how did you manage it?
VINCENT: The few seconds before my final downhill run were fairly stressful. Knowing I was trailing far behind, I would have to deliver a perfect performance. My hands were numb, my feet were frozen and my legs were shaking … I managed it by saying to myself: You’ve got 20 seconds … ski with no regrets. I could hear Canadian fans screaming and I fed off that energy. It was probably one of my best downhill performances.
JEANE: Both the training hall and the competition venue in Beijing were freezing because they were over air-conditioned and extremely quiet because the crowd was being managed as if they were golf spectators. It was hard to get the body moving well and hard to draw any energy from the environment. This was a big surprise to me because while I was training alone in the Yukon, I would close my eyes and imagine I was at the Games.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
VINCENT: Other than adjusting my approach in qualifying, I would do things pretty much the same. I believe my preparation went well and my Olympic experience was incredible.
JEANE: I wish I was able to identify what kind of support I needed from the people around me to feel at my best. It would have been as easy as watching something funny on TV with me or playing some cards.
EACH IN OUR OWN WAY
What do you think makes somebody a good listener?
VINCENT: Being able to identify what a person is looking for … Does someone want to be listened to, advised or coached? Are they looking for validation, reassurance? A good listener is an active listener.
JEANE: Good listeners know there is not always a solution. Sometimes just saying what’s taking up space in your mind takes enough weight off your shoulders to free you in the way you need. Other times, it’s more complicated and the listener can help provide support for next steps.
What is the one characteristic all high-performance athletes have that makes them successful?
VINCENT: Being known to perform when it counts.
When did you realize you wanted to be a high-performance athlete?
VINCENT: I think I always had it in me. When I was younger, I played a lot of sports, and I enjoyed performing well in anything I would do, I enjoyed winning, I hated losing. So, I believe that I had it in me to become an athlete, and it was with freestyle skiing where I developed the most.
JEANE: I wanted to be an Olympian since watching the Calgary Winter Games at age seven. Luckily, I believed that playing hard any chance I got (whether in gym class or on the tobogganing hill) was relevant to becoming an Olympian … because it turns out that was true.
What are you most proud of during your Olympic career?
JEANE: I was lucky enough to be adopted by Whitehorse Elementary School as part of the COC Adopt an Athlete Program. I promised that I would give a shout-out to the kids from the Olympic platform by making a ‘W’ with my fingers. I was able to follow through and it meant a lot to the kids. Some of them have since gone on to university and the story still gets brought up once and a while. It’s a testament to how the competition has so much more impact than just what happens on the day.
What do you wish you knew about every athlete on the 2018 team?
VINCENT: Who they are in their daily lives, their routine, what they need to be at their best.
JEANE: Their pre-competition ritual which puts them at ease and makes foreign surroundings feel familiar.
“Competition has so much more impact than just what happens on the day.”
VINCENT: The fear of failure.
JEANE: I was worried about ‘bombing out’ which means not being successful in any of your competition lifts and having DNF as a result. This is what helped the ‘fight’ response kick in and allowed me to lift things that scared me in training come competition day.
What was your most advantageous personality trait at Games?
VINCENT: I was able to rebound when things weren’t necessarily going as I wanted them to.
JEANE: The ability to positively reframe every situation. It helped me see how unfavourable situations actually contributed to me becoming a stronger athlete.
What was your toughest personality trait at Games?
VINCENT: I am a pretty emotional person in sports, I put a lot of heart into it. So occasionally, I could have a bit of difficulty controlling my emotions.
JEANE: Ironically, my toughest personality trait was also my habit of positively reframing every situation. I was so used to searching for the good in every situation, that I wasn’t able to identify when I should simply ask for help and change it.
TEAM CANADA CULTURE
Who is your favourite Canadian Olympian of all time and why?
VINCENT: Mark Tewksbury. I was too young to remember his Olympic performances, but he was an incredible source of inspiration for me during my Vancouver 2010 Games experience. Apart from his performances, he’s an inspiring person who brings out remarkable values.
How did you feel the first time you saw (or heard about) a Canadian athlete competing at an Olympic Games?
VINCENT: My first Olympic experience goes back to 1994, when Jean-Luc Brassard won the gold medal. And that was the year when I took up freestyle skiing. The feeling I got was: I want to experience that one day!
JEANE: I feel so lucky to have been seven-years-old when the Winter Games were first hosted in Canada. I remember being addicted to everything Olympics and being sad when they were over. Later that summer the Games were in Seoul and I got sucked right in again. I always get goosebumps thinking about how athletes competing at PyeongChang 2018 will be inspiring.
“The louder you cheer when your training partner does well, the better you’ll do when it’s your turn.”
What made you different from your teammates?
JEANE: I have always believed that other people’s successes are not your failures and the louder you cheer when your training partner does well, the better you’ll do when it’s your turn.
During Games, did you make a friendship with a Canadian athlete from another sport that you still cherish today? Why is that relationship so important to you?
VINCENT: I connected with François-Olivier Roberge, a long track speed skater whom I cheered on during the Games. Since then, we still see each other on a fairly regular basis. As with any friendly relationship, it is important, it has the distinction of being a living memory of my Olympic experience and has afforded me the opportunity to have someone with whom I could share post-Olympic experiences.
JEANE: It seems crazy, but I met my good friend Britanee Laverdure, a wrestler from Watson Lake Yukon, at a pub in Beijing. We knew a lot about each other but had never met. She was in Beijing as a training partner for Carol Huynh, after finishing second at Olympic trials and not making the team. Her hard work helped Carol earn gold. Britanee and I don’t talk every day, but she is that person that I know just gets it.
What characteristics do you see in Canadian athletes that you don’t see in athletes from other countries?
JEANE: What makes me the proudest of our Team is our values. We compete with the spirit of sport, integrity, and fair play. And we aren’t willing to waiver on those values. Our team inspires Canadians to participate for the love of the game not the love of the fame.