Collingwood's Michaela Gosselin will represent Canada in Para alpine skiing at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games this week.
At 21-years-old, Gosselin is considered a rising star on the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team. She will be making her Paralympic debut this year and is excited to show the world what she can do while wearing the maple leaf.
“Lot’s of emotions,” laughed Gosselin. “I'm a bit nervous, and very excited, but it’s been extra stressful with COVID.”
Gosselin is one of 11 alpine racers who will race for Canada at the Paralympic Winter Games, which will take place March 4-13, 2022 in China. Canada is expecting to send a team of approximately 50 athletes.
“It’s such an honour and just super exciting,” she said. “It’s also one of the only times Paralympians are super visible, so it’s good for us.”
Gosselin first stepped into a pair of skis when she was just over a year old. She grew up skiing at Osler Bluff Ski Club and raced able-bodied at the Ontario Cup (OCUP) until the end of U16 before obtaining her entry and development coaching levels and coaching for two seasons at Osler.
Three years ago, when Gosselin was 18-years-old, she was diagnosed with bone cancer, which resulted in a scapulectomy of her left shoulder.
“The sudden change to my life was very overwhelming, and left me very uncertain about what my life would look like after treatment,” said Gosselin in a social media post. “I feel very fortunate to have survived cancer, although it has been far from easy to adapt to life without a shoulder.”
Gosselin was recruited by the Ontario Para Alpine Ski Team because of her history of ski racing, and joined the national Para-Alpine competition in 2019/20 as a NextGen athlete.
“I’m still pretty new, it’s been less than three years and I am already going to the Paralympics,” Gosselin said. “It is quite different from able-body, which is cutthroat and super competitive. I didn’t notice that until I got to Para. Everyone here is so different and has different disabilities and different stories for how they came to be on the team, so it is quite interesting and a cool community.”
At the World Para Snow Sports Championships in Lillehammer, Norway in January 2022, Gosselin won the bronze medal in the women’s standing slalom. She was also fifth in the super combined and sixth in the downhill and giant slalom.
It was her first-ever world championship podium finish.
“I was very excited,” said Gosselin. “It’s pretty incredible when you [get to the] podium. Sport is so hard, especially skiing. It’s such a momentum sport. The highs are really great, but often there are way more lows and disappointment, so it’s tough that way, but I think it’s worth it.”
Now on route to Beijing, Gosselin is buzzing with this same excitement.
“I grew up watching the Olympics and always wanted to go,” she said. “It feels surreal that I’m now in China only a few days away from competing at my first games. I am able to fulfill my lifelong dream of going to the Olympics at the Paralympics.”
And at the end of the day, she is also just happy to be skiing again.
“There are not a lot of sports where you can be in some of the most beautiful places in the world on a sunny, bluebird day, and you just get to ski around,” Gosselin smiled. “For those good days, it’s all worth it. It’s one of the best feelings ever.”