Blog

Heather Moyse, Olympic Champion Bobsledder

21.11.2011

[singlepic id=2 w=320 h=240 float=none]Olympic bobsled champion, member of Canada’s national rugby team, occupational therapist, Right To Play ambassador, aspiring track cyclist – multi-talented might be an understatement when used to describe Heather Moyse.

Do you have any mentors or other athletes that you admire?
Heather Moyse: Growing up, being 3 years younger than my sister, I just always wanted to keep up with her and try to fill her shoes when it was my turn to make certain teams. Each member of my family continues to be my primary role models – excelling in what they love to do, while maintaining a positive perspective and keeping their core values as priorities. I DO admire many other athletes, however. Terry Fox, for example, is an inspiration that reflects what you can do if you really put your mind to it and have the right perspective. I would have to say that my strength and conditioning coach, Matt Nichol, who has become a great friend of mine, is my biggest mentor (whether he realizes it or not)! He has been the perfect trainer for me, and has taught me SO much over the last few years. I continue to learn things from him all the time – often when he doesn’t realize he’s teaching! 😉

HM: I played innumerable sports growing up and happened to have a natural athletic ability. Maybe it was because of that natural athleticism, or maybe it was because I had always considered sport to be extra-curricular to what I was going to do to earn a living, but I never WORKED at it. I only played sports because I enjoyed them. I wasn’t trying to make it at the next level, so actually training to improve just wasn’t an option for me at the time. I didn’t start lifting weights until I was 27 years old when I was named to the National bobsleigh team 5 months before the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino.

Suddenly realizing that I did not want to just miss out on making the Olympics because of not training, I did everything I could to have no regrets at the end. I developed a work ethic that enables me to thrive off of challenges and enjoy stretching my boundaries of abilities. That work ethic goes beyond sport. It has made me realize that one can improve in anything with lots of hard work, and that success comes to those who are willing to believe in growth and put in the effort.

What healthy eating habits do you have and what resources do you use for nutrition advice?
HM: I think, just as I think for training programs, that eating habits and nutritional needs are unique for every individual. Personally, I eat a lot of grilled steak, chicken, and salmon. I love salads (usually Greek because I love feta cheese, although I don’t like olives). I think that too many people shy away from carbs, thinking they’re a source of fat. But potatoes don’t have any fat OR cholesterol in them, and I’ve gotta say that my favourites are garlic mashed (whipped) potatoes or fries. I would have to say that my healthiest eating habit is not restricting my diet at all.

I just make sure that I get enough protein and carbs to get through my workouts and competitions, but I don’t deny myself of any cravings that I may have. (That makes me a much happier person! lol) The important thing is to not replace the healthy foods with the unhealthy cravings, but to make sure that you’re getting the nutrients that you need first! The best advice is about balance, and finding what is right for you!

What are your favourite exercises to build the strength and speed required for bobsleigh?
HM: For bobsleigh, I would have to say that my favourite exercises for strength and speed would have to be the bottom-up (or ‘rack’) squat. It’s not always about strength and how much weight you can move, but how quickly you can move it. Because I didn’t live in Calgary – (home of good indoor push-start technology), I also pushed cars in training to simulate the start and train the muscles to be quick and strong in the actual position needed to push a sled effectively and efficiently.

Note: My brother likes to say he’s helped me with my training… sitting in the driver’s seat with the car in neutral, rolling down the windows with “Eye of the Tiger” blaring from the speakers, while I push him from behind!

You travel much of the year. How do you ensure that you continue to eat healthy and stay fit for competition while on the road so much?
HM: For me it’s just about making sure that I get enough protein and carbs to get through my workouts and competitions. The rest of it is about being mentally prepared to deal with whatever is presented. Sometimes we stay in places where the food isn’t very good or good for us… It’s a matter of knowing that I have trained my body hard enough to win under not-so-perfect conditions. Those who get caught up in eating very specific foods may find themselves in mental trouble on race day if those foods are not available. It’s just as dangerous as superstitions and rituals that you may not have control over in certain circumstances.

Tell us a bit about your true passion of using sport as a medium for development.
HM: I believe that sport is an ideal medium for development at multiple levels – international, team, community, national, and international levels. At the grassroots level, it also teaches the values of hard-work, commitment, responsibility, communication, respect, acceptance, time-management, and healthy living. Sport can break down barriers and overlook prejudices and stereotypes. It can open lines of communication, be a source of integration, be a means of education, and create international relations.

You have recently decided to add track cycling to your sports resume. What aspect of the transition to track cycling do you find the most challenging?
HM: I would have to say that the most challenging part of my transition to track cycling has been (and continues to be) figuring out how to optimally use my power through the bike in a smooth cyclical output. It’s an extremely technical sport, but as a cognitive athlete I’m thoroughly enjoying the challenge of figuring it out mentally, and then trying to apply it in training. The smallest of details make a difference, and it’s been fun trying to figure it all out.