By Brandi Awad
While Olympians get ready for the biggest competition of their lives on a world stage at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, it’s all too easy to forget about the Olympic dreamers that didn’t make it: the athletes that worked endlessly to end up at the Olympic trials and the athletes that came all too close, but couldn’t make it.
One of those athletes is Ottawa’s Alaine Chartrand, a figure skater with a big dream.
“I’ve been thinking of the Olympics since I was 10 years old,” Chartrand said. “It would be achieving the ultimate goal as a high-level athlete.”
Chartrand began her figure skating career when she was four years old at her local CanSkate program, where she fell in love with every twirl, jump and landing.
“That floating feeling when you’re in the air or when you land a big jump… that’s something that’s pretty addictive,” she explained. “I love the performance and I love that
I can connect with people in a different way and share emotions and a story. I think it’s really helped develop me as a person.”
At CanSkate in her hometown of Brockville, she met her eventual long-time coach Mary Jayne Rashotte – who Chartrand still trains with to this day. 17 years later.
“The talent was pretty obvious from a young age,” Rashotte said. “And I guess I first realized she had something special when she first started competing because she would pretty much win every little competition that she went to. But she was also the type [of athlete] that once she hit the higher competitions was like ‘okay, I’ve done this category and I want to go to the next one’ and she would just keep going up higher and higher until she got to senior ladies. She didn’t stay in a category to win it, but she stayed in a category as she went along because she wanted to get even better.”
Getting better was something Chartrand did, reaching her first national competition at age 13 where she took home a senior bronze medal. Now, at age 21, she’s competed in every Canadian Figure Skating Championship since and has taken home a trio of medals, earning herself another bronze, a silver and a gold.
Internationally, she’s also reached the podium, taking the bronze medal at the Rostelecom Cup during her 2014-2015 season and a silver at the Autumn Classic International last year.
This past season she spent time in Colorado Springs to train with former figure skater and U.S. Olympian Christy Krall in preparation for Pyeongchang. Going into this year’s Canadian Figure Skating Championships in Vancouver, the competition that would determine Chartrand’s Olympic fate, she said she felt confident.
Though she gave a strong performance, it was only enough to earn her 4th place. Only the top three skaters were awarded a spot on Team Canada’s Olympic Figure Skating Team.
Just like that – just like at the 2014 Canadian Nationals, where she placed 5th, falling short of the team for the Sochi Winter Olympics – Chartrand’s dream slipped away.
“It’s obviously hard when you make it that far and thinking of the 2014 meet still makes me emotional to this day,” she said, prior to this year’s qualifier. “But in those super hard experiences, there’s always something to be learned and I think they add character.”