At Vancouver 2010, Canada witnessed the birth of several stars. Among them, we had a shocker, a tearjerker, a battler, a leader, a trail-blazer. Before new stars are made in Sochi, we look back at some of the stars of Vancouver, and where they are now.
The Shocker: Jon Montgomery
Jon Montgomery went on a wild ride in Vancouver. He won a gold medal in men’s skeleton and famously celebrated by chugging a pitcher of beer as he walked through the Olympic village. His post-Vancouver ride has been equally as wild. Increased sponsorship allowed Montgomery to step away from his job as an auctioneer and become a full-time athlete, and in 2013 he hosted of the inaugural season of The Amazing Race Canada. The show presented Montgomery with a chance to go outside his comfort zone, something he thrives on. “I never saw that opportunity happening, but I think the things I’ve done in my life previous to that have enabled me to jump in, both feet,” he told Yahoo Sports. Montgomery will return to host season two of the show this summer. He unfortunately failed to qualify for Sochi 2014 after toying with a new sled, and at 34 years of age, he’s now pondering if he wants to continue his skeleton career.
The Tearjerker: Joannie Rochette
Joannie Rochette captured the hearts of Canadians in Vancouver, winning a bronze medal in women’s figure skating in the same week her mother passed away. Following the Olympics, Rochette entered unofficial retirement as she chose to sit out the world championships. She has not competed on the international circuit since, though she considered an attempt at an Olympic return. “When I was training for the Olympics (in 2010), it was so intense and I was so fragile that I would break out in tears in practice. When I was training and thinking of Sochi, I felt so much lighter, and I actually was skating so much better." She ultimately elected not to pursue a return but will be in Sochi as part of the coverage team for Radio-Canada, CBC’s French radio network. Rochette hasn’t left figure skating completely though. She still makes skating appearances, taking part in several theatrical shows throughout the year on tours like Stars on Ice. Away from the rink she’s been doing lots of public speaking, talking often of her Vancouver experience.
The Battler: Clara Hughes
Clara Hughes walked in to Vancouver 2010 as Team Canada’s Olympic flag bearer and walked out a retired Winter Olympian. However, that didn’t spell the end of her Olympic career. She went on to compete at the London 2012 Summer Games in road cycling. Now Hughes is serving as a national spokesperson for Bell Canada’s mental health initiative, which seeks to end the stigma surrounding mental illness. Over the last couple of years, Canada’s six-time Olympic medalist has opened up about her own struggles with depression. “When I was in a dark place, nothing helped. Not even winning 10 medals could ease the unexplainable pain I was feeling inside,” she told the Montreal Gazette. In March, Hughes will lead the second annual Clara’s Big Ride event and bike across the country, criss-crossing into every province and territory to raise money for same cause. Hughes will be in attendance for Sochi 2014, but this year she’ll be serving as an analyst for CBC.
The Leader: Scott Niedermayer
After serving as the captain of the men’s ice hockey team in Vancouver, Scott Niedermayer went on to finish the 2009-10 NHL season with the Anaheim Ducks. His team missed the playoffs, and Niedermayer announced his retirement from the NHL that summer. However, the two-time Olympic gold medalist isn’t done with hockey. He took on a consultant role in Ducks management in the summer of 2010 and moved to an assistant coaching role with the club in 2012-13. He’s also raising four sons in hockey. "I might be able to drop one of them on my way to the rink and then my wife is going to go crazy,” he joked in a recent ESPN interview. Off the ice, Niedermayer is involved with a number of charities, including World Wildlife Fund Canada where he serves as a freshwater ambassador in an effort to help preserve the environment.
The Trail-Blazer: Jennifer Heil
In 2010, Jennifer Heil won Canada’s first Vancouver medal with silver in women’s moguls. Since then, she has completed a commerce degree at McGill University, welcomed a baby boy named Danik, and raised $1 million for the ‘Because I am a Girl’ initiative, which aims to empower women. “I knew if I won a medal that it would be an opportunity to have a larger impact and to make a bigger difference,” Heil told the Toronto Star. She also runs a girls-only ski camp, and she co-founded a company called B2ten that helps develop amateur athletes in Canada. Heil will be present in Sochi as an analyst for CBC where she’ll serve as a commentator for freestyle moguls event.