World champion curler Lisa Weagle to oversee Canadian team in Youth Olympic Games

CALGARY — World champion curler Lisa Weagle will be Canada's chef de mission at the 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games in a place where she became an Olympian herself.

The 36-year-old from Ottawa made her Olympic debut in 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea, playing lead for Rachel Homan.

South Korea will recycle several Pyeongchang venues and sites for next year's Winter Youth Olympic Games, which is the largest multi-sport event for athletes aged 15 to 18.

The Canadian Olympic Committee announced Weagle's appointment Wednesday in Calgary.

Canada's Olympians who are winter YOG alumni include ski cross racer Reece Howden of Cultus Lake, B.C., Toronto alpine ski racer Ali Nullmeyer and Vancouver luger Natalie Corless.

Weagle is well-versed in the multi-sport Games environment having also served as Jennifer Jones' alternate in last year's Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.

"My sport journey has taken me to some places that I never even imagined possible," Weagle told The Canadian Press.

"Now this is an opportunity to pay it forward with the next generation of athletes, youth Olympic athletes."

While Homan's team fell short of the Olympic podium in Pyeongchang, Weagle says she's eager to return and shepherd young Canadian athletes Jan 19 to Feb. 1, 2024, in Gangwon province.

"It really feels full circle to be going back," Weagle told The Canadian Press.

"I'm excited to make some new memories. There's going to be some nostalgia going back to those venues and being in that same place. I really did love my experience.

"With this role, I get to be a mentor, be a cheerleader, be a spokesperson for athletes and let them focus on their performance.

"I'm able to be there for them as the chef and also be able to relate because through my sports career, I've had standing on top of the podium at the world championships, but also not medalling at the Olympics, so I've really experienced that whole roller-coaster of emotions."

Weagle earned a complete set of world championship medals playing for Homan with gold in Beijing in 2017, silver in 2014 and bronze in 2013.

She's stepped into the coaching ranks, but remains a competitive curler.

Weagle and John Epping rank fourth in Canada in mixed doubles. They'll compete in the national championship March 21-26 in Sudbury, Ont.

Weagle coached Brett Gallant and Jocelyne Peterman in the 2022 world mixed doubles championship in Geneva, Switzerland.

She also coached Kaitlyn Lawes' wild card team at the Canadian women's championship which ended Sunday in Kamloops, B.C.

Weagle, who works with an Ottawa private communications company, is also involved in the national wheelchair curling program as a coach and communications manager.

"It's been a bit of a journey for me over the last year, just trying to figure out what's next for me and where I fit, and saying yes to all kinds of different opportunities," she said.

"This is one that really excited me."

Gangwon 2024 will be the fourth edition of the Winter YOG and the first in Asia. Athletes will compete in seven sports in a total of 81 events.

Canada sent 78 athletes to the 2020 Winter YOG in Lausanne, Switzerland.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2023.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press