ST. MORITZ, Switzerland – It’s a big day for brakewoman Heather Moyse and pilot Alysia Rissling on Saturday.
The duo will compete in St. Moritz, Switzerland, in the final bobsleigh qualifying race for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, in February.
“Basically, we will find out after this weekend how many sleds we (Canada) have,” said Moyse in an interview with the Journal Pioneer earlier this week from Switzerland. “That being said, up until this week, we all thought that everybody, men’s and women’s teams, would be decided after this race. . .
“They may actually wait and do some push-offs and getting some more data amongst certain brakeman the following week. . . I’m not really sure.”
Moyse teamed with pilot Kaillie Humphries to win back-to-back gold medals at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Games. Moyse and Helen Upperton just missed winning bronze in 2006.
Moyse, an accomplished multi-sport athlete from Summerside, decided to return to the track after being approached by the 28-year-old Rissling.
“It’s been really fun working with someone new,” said Moyse. “Still, the goal of the team is to qualify as the third sled, and hopefully we’ll know after this weekend whether we will have two or three Canadian sleds going to the Games.
“It won’t be until after that we actually find out for sure who is going to the Games.”
Humphries and brakewoman Phylicia George won last week’s World Cup event in Altenberg, Germany. Rissling and Moyse were 10th while the Canadian team of Cynthia Appiah and Christine de Bruin finished 13th.
Moyse admits this can be a stressful time for Olympic hopefuls.
“The whole Olympic season is a big pressure-cooker when things are coming down to push-offs, selections, people don’t know where they are sitting, people do not know if they are going to be cut or if they are going,” offered Moyse. “There are tensions all around, and it’s never an easy season to be in.”
With Moyse having gone through this before, is there any advice she can pass along?
“Not overinflating the importance of an event, and also not underestimating an event,” she answered. “At the Olympic Games, people are more likely to overinflate the importance of the event and because of that they put themselves beyond their optimal performance, which means they are unable to execute as well as they normally could if their anxiety and stress levels were brought down to a better level. A lot of that is controlling nerves and putting things in perspective.”
When asked, based on her previous experiences, if she has taken on a mentorship role with Rissling, Moyse described it as a “really fun” experience.
“Mentorship doesn’t have to be sitting someone down and telling them, that’s not what leadership is,” said Moyse, who added one goal is to always turn things into a positive. “Part of it initially was developing a rapport and a relationship between the two of us and developing a trust and comfort zone for her to be able to ask questions, or be able to tell me something that she is worried about.
“Then I can put it in perspective and help her maybe see it in a different way, and just shift the way she kind of sees it, or tell her what we did or I did personally at the Games four years ago or in Vancouver (in 2010).”