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Skeleton slider and two-time Olympian, Mirela “Mimi” Rahneva, readies herself for Beijing. Photo: Instagram.

Skeleton slider Mirela Rahneva dead-set on success in her second Olympics

By Kiefer Uuksulainen on February 9, 2022

Make no bones about it, two-time Olympic skeleton slider, Mirela “Mimi” Rahneva, is dead-set on success in Beijing.

Apt613 connected with the 33-year-old Bulgarian-born, Ottawa-raised slider, now training out of Calgary, Alberta, for a written interview preceding the 2022 Winter Olympics. In the interview, Rahneva discusses the “incredibly challenging” balance of training amidst pandemic protocols, speaks about her love of Gatineau Park, and tells home viewers that calmness prevails at 130km/h.

Responses have been edited for clarity and length.


The daughter of Bulgarian immigrants, Rahneva was forged in sport. Her mother, Valentina, was an elite sprinter, and her father Stoyan, a competitive acrobatic gymnast. Growing up in Ottawa, young Rahneva would run along a 100-metre track on a nearby bike path while her father kept time.

This ritual laid a foundation for life in high-performance athletics, starting with rugby—including a stint on Canada’s rugby sevens team—then bobsled and ultimately skeleton.

 

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A post shared by Mirela Rahneva OLY (@mrahneva)


It was a worthwhile transition, with Rahneva finishing 12th in her 2018 Olympic debut. She enters Beijing with a pair of World Cup bronze medals this season.

Balancing elite training with pandemic protocols proved to be difficult for the veteran slider. “It’s been incredibly challenging,” says Rahneva. “We aren’t only focused on performance. We are constantly trying to stay safe and remain distanced from our friends, teammates, and competitors.”

She’s been feeling the love and support from afar. “My family and friends have been incredible,” says Rahneva. “They get so excited when a newspaper article comes out or they see a clip on TV.”

 

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A post shared by Mirela Rahneva OLY (@mrahneva)

Like her father before her, Rahneva instills the importance of an active lifestyle for young female athletes, both as a role model for Fast and Female, a charity promoting the value of staying active and prioritizing health through new sports and activities, and as a mentor for Classroom Champions, an organization partnering children with elite athletes to nurture the skills necessary to thrive and succeed in and out of the classroom.

When not sliding, Rahneva is striding: “I love going for hikes in Gatineau Park. Pink Lake Loop is one of my favourites. I’m really proud to represent the Ottawa-Gatineau area.”

 

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A post shared by Mirela Rahneva OLY (@mrahneva)


Rahneva lights up the track on Feb. 10 at 8:30pm EST. The slider leaves some tips for first-time viewers: “Watch for sliders who look relaxed. Staying calm at 130km/h is hard!”


Follow Mirela “Mimi” Rahneva in her second Olympic berth on Twitter and Instagram. Keep an eye out for all of the Beijing-bound athletes representing Ottawa-Gatineau, including:

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)