“I am the strongest I’ve ever been,” said a confident Heather Moyse, Olympian bobsledder and U of T alumna, on the cusp of the Vancouver Olympics. In fact, her second attempt at the Olympics is filled with a mix of determination, pressure, and excitement.
For Moyse, who is also on the national rugby team, competing in the Olympics was not a priority at first. Rugby is not an Olympic sport, and Moyse had not started bobsledding until four months before the 2006 Olympics. “[Going to the Olympics] was just a blur for me,” she said of her experience in Torino. Missing the podium by a five-hundredth of a second four years ago, the 31-year-old P.E.I. native, having shaken off an injury that set her back at the beginning of this season, is making a comeback with more technique and experience.
At the 2010 Olympics, Moyse will partner with 24-year-old driver Kaillie Humphries, whom she has teamed with since last year. The duo placed second overall in this World Cup season, highlighted by a gold medal finish in Altenberg, Germany. “I have been really, really excited to work with Kaillie this year,” Moyse said. “The chemistry that she and I have is both on and off the ice.”
Today, competing - and winning - at the Olympics still is not really a goal. “It’s more like a challenge,” said the Olympian. “Making a goal like that is a little bit scary. It’s a lot of pressure you’re putting on yourself. To expect something like that is not realistic, because there are no guarantees in sport. It’s really scary when my goal is to get on the podium at the Olympics. That’s the goal of the entire country and the entire world can see, and can see if I am failing, or can see if I am succeeding.”
Moyse is already feeling the tremendous pressure, especially because she will be competing on home soil. It comes from "tons of people at home," including family, friends, and sponsors. She does not want to let any of them down. Fortunately, the experienced athlete has her own ways of dealing with pressure, using her home country advantage to improve her results. To compete in front of a “sea of red” is going to give her extra energy. “As long as the energy is channelled into feeling like a good solid push, then I think it’ll become really, really exciting to be home,” she said.
Before every race, Moyse writes down some of her visualizations to change her focus and relieve stress. Whichever country she is in, she likes to go out for steak dinner with her teammates before competing on the next day.
Moyse sees the Olympics as “just another race. The only difference is it just happens to be the only race the rest of the world cares about. My job is the exact same thing that has been every other race I’ve done all year.”
Although Moyse has no long-term, post-Olympic plan, this will probably be her last chance to win an Olympic medal. “I don’t see myself playing to the next Olympics,” said Moyse, who feels tired after a grueling travel schedule. “I am craving a normal life. I am ready to be more settled I guess.”
In the 2006-07 season, Moyse returned to school to finish her M.Sc. in occupational therapy at U of T. “I feel very fortunate that I have a great education behind me,” she said. “I can make choices based on what I feel is right for me, and not because I have to do something. I am very, very lucky.”
But for now, Moyse only wants to focus on what might turn out to be the race of her career. “I do hope to have the best push I’ve ever had in my life,” she said.
The Olympic Women’s Bobsleigh competition takes place Feb. 23-24.