The designation of “Olympian” was long overdue for Katherine Stewart-Jones, a cross-country skier raised in Chelsea, Quebec. A devastating concussion dashed her Olympic dreams in the months preceding Pyeongchang 2018; now, Stewart-Jones arrives in Beijing fully recovered and in top form.
Apt613 connected with the 26-year old, now training out of Canmore, Alberta, for a written interview foregoing the 2022 Winter Olympics. In the interview, Stewart-Jones describes the pandemic-era competition as “somewhat normal,” expresses support for her home club, and reveals the one thing the world should know about Ottawa-Gatineau.
Responses have been edited for clarity and length.
View this post on Instagram
Stewart-Jones makes her Olympic debut as the top-ranked Canadian woman in the overall 2022 World Cup standings, thanks to a breakthrough 2021 season that included a string of top 30 finishes.
Fortunately, the pandemic impact has been minimal for the seasoned skier. “I’ve had to navigate the pandemic while competing for the past two years,” says Stewart-Jones, “so it’s become somewhat normal. Thankfully, my sport is outdoors, which reduces the risk of getting sick.”
COVID-19 concerns and precautions became more prevalent in the months leading up to these Olympics. “The preparation for the Games has been extra stressful because of the Omicron variant,” says Stewart-Jones. “In the pre-Olympic [training] camp, we have been staying in separate accommodations, getting all food delivered, and having meetings on Zoom to minimize contact. It’s definitely a bit different.”
Stewart-Jones received plenty of encouragement along the way. “My home club, Nakkertok Nordique, has been a huge support,” says Stewart-Jones. “I learned to ski through their program when I was five years old and they have continued to support me. The Ottawa-Gatineau area has an incredible ski community and I am very thankful for that.”
Outside of competition, Stewart-Jones leads by example as a mentor with Classroom Champions, an organization that partners children with world-class athletes to promote and develop the skills necessary to thrive and succeed in and out of the classroom.
Stewart-Jones concluded the interview—perhaps around lunchtime—by sharing the one thing the world should know about the National Capital Region: “The Ottawa-Gatineau area has the best shawarma. My all-time favourite place is Chelsea Shawarma.”
View this post on Instagram
Stewart-Jones hits the icy course in hot pursuit of gold in four events (15km Skiathlon, 10km Classic, 4x5km relay, and 30km Freestyle). The first of which took place on Feb. 5, resulting in a 23rd-place finish for Stewart-Jones. She offers a tip for first-time viewers of cross-country skiing: “A lot can be gained or lost in the finishing stretch, even in a 30 or 50km race.”
Follow Katherine Stewart-Jones in her Olympic debut on Twitter and Instagram. Keep an eye out for all of the Beijing-bound athletes representing Ottawa-Gatineau, including:
Mirela Rahneva (skeleton)
Valérie Grenier (alpine skiing)
Cody Sorensen and Mike Evelyn (bobsleigh)
Hannah Schmidt and Jared Schmidt (freestyle skiing)
Ivanie Blondin and Isabelle Weidemann (speed skating)
Lisa Weagle, Dawn McEwen, Rachel Homan, and John Morris (curling)
Mason McTavish, Eric O’Dell, and Jamie Lee Rattray (hockey)
Antoine Cyr, Katherine Stewart-Jones, and Laura Leclair (cross-country skiing)