Students Heil, Labonté look to add to Olympic resumés
By Jim Hynes
Over the past century, 106 McGill students have participated in the Olympic Games, winning a total of 24 Olympic medals, including five gold, eight silver and 11 bronze, in the process. That medal count might grow as early as Saturday night when Desautels Faculty of Management student Jennifer Heil, already one of only three McGill students to win Olympic Gold (Turin 2006), defends her Freestyle Moguls title on Cypress Mountain.
Heil, who came to McGill after finishing fourth in the 2002 Games, is participating in her third Games. The 26-year-old native of Spruce Grove, Alta. and current Montreal resident is favoured to win her event. A four-time FIS World Cup Moguls champion and winner of four World Cup events this season, Heil currently has part-time student status at McGill. That will change, she said, after these games.
“Once the Olympics are done, my goal is to finish my degree,” Heil told the McGill News last fall. “I’ll be going to school full time, taking summer classes, night classes – whatever it takes.”
McGill’s other current student Olympian is also going for her second consecutive gold medal. Martlet goaltender Charline Labonté, a physical education junior from Boisbriand, Que. won gold with Canada’s women’s hockey team in 2006. Team Canada, which also features former Martlets players Catherine Ward (BCom’09) and goaltender Kim St-Pierre (BEd’05), a two-time Olympic Gold medallist, is favoured to win it all again in Vancouver. Current Martlets head coach Peter Smith (BEd’79), featured in the last issue of the McGill Reporter, is on sabbatical from McGill to serve as an assistant coach with the team.
Two other McGill graduates are competing in the Games. Former Martlet Laura Ruhnke (BCom’05), is a defenceman with the Swiss national hockey squad who hails from Biel, Switzerland, and speedskater Tyson Heung (BEd’05), a Montreal teacher originally from Brampton, Ont., will be competing for Germany. McGill graduates coaching in Vancouver include Stephen Gough (BA’98) of Canada’s short-track speedskating team, and former hockey Redmen and current Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock (BEd’86), the bench boss of Canada’s men’s hockey team, another medal favourite.
Other officials at the Games include IOC member Richard Pound (BCom’62, BCL’67) of Montreal, IOC director of legal affairs Howard Stupp (BEng’78, LLB’83, BCL’83) of Laval, Que., COC director of sports services Derek Covington (MA’92), physcian Dr. Connie Lebrun (MDCM, 1981) and sports psychologist Dr. Wayne Halliwell (MA’73).
Did you know? The most successful McGill Olympian of all time is Dr. Phil Edwards, a graduate of the Faculty of Medicine who won five bronze medals in track and field while representing Canada at the1928 Amsterdam Games (1), the 1932 Los Angeles Games (3), and the 1936 Berlin Games (1).
-With files from Earl Zukerman