Sports

Thrill of the BC Games a family affair for speed skater Janie Green

Former Olympic speed skating medalist Eden Donatelli Green and her daughter Janie are excited about the upcoming BC Winter Games in Mission. Donatelli Green is the director of registration and results for the Games, while Janie will be competing in U14 girls short track speed skating. - Dan Kinvig photo
Former Olympic speed skating medalist Eden Donatelli Green and her daughter Janie are excited about the upcoming BC Winter Games in Mission. Donatelli Green is the director of registration and results for the Games, while Janie will be competing in U14 girls short track speed skating.
— image credit: Dan Kinvig photo

Janie Green has never had to look far to find famous role models.

When she was in kindergarten, her class had a celebrity dress-up day. While most of her classmates came as movie stars or musicians, Green wore a Team Canada jacket and Olympic medals around her neck. Real ones, mind you, not dollar-store replicas.

She was representing her mom, former national team short track speed skating star Eden Donatelli Green, whose glittering career included a silver medal in the 500 metres and bronze in the 3000m relay at the 1988 Calgary Winter Games, and a gold in the 500m at the 1987 world championships.

If there was any doubt that the speed skating gene would be passed on to Janie, it’s worth noting that her father Julian Green was also an Olympian in the sport, representing Great Britain, and later served as coach of Canada’s national team.

Her parents currently coach speed skating clubs in Maple Ridge and Langley, and her maternal grandfather, George Donatelli, helms a club in Chilliwack.

“Ever since I heard about Mom being in the Olympics, it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do,” said Janie, now a 13-year-old Grade 8 student at Mission Secondary. “The rink is my second home. I was there four days after I was born. I’ve just always been there.”

For the Green family, the upcoming BC Winter Games in Mission (Feb. 20-23, 2014) represent a highlight in their overlapping speed skating careers. Janie, representing the Ridge Meadows Racers, qualified for the Zone 3 Fraser Valley team, finishing tied for first in the U14 girls division at the qualification event earlier this month.

Eden, meanwhile, is one of the key contributors on the BC Games leadership team, serving as director of registration and results. And Julian will be coaching.

For Eden, who works as a Grade 1 teacher at Abbotsford’s John Maclure Community School, the buzz building up to the BC Games evokes memories of her own athletic career.

“When I was competing, every store had a sign in the window – ‘Mission’s Olympian, Eden Donatelli,’” she recalled. “I felt very supported by this community. It’s great to see – I have that feeling again, how everybody is rallying around.”

At the same time, the BC Games have given Eden a new appreciation for how much work it takes to put together an event of such magnitude.

“Now, I can see what a huge, huge undertaking it is – I can’t even imagine the scope of putting together an Olympic Games,” she marveled.

“We’ve had a lot of fun working together as a team, getting to know a lot of the other people in Mission. There’s a lot of major volunteer people who are just a great resource for the community. I think that’s what it’s really creating – a resource base of volunteers in our community.”

Janie is one of three speed-skating Green kids – Annabelle is 11, and Samuel is nine.

Eden said she gets more nervous watching her kids and the athletes from her clubs compete than she ever did as an athlete. The Zone 3 qualifier, in particular, was a nail-biter.

“I was more nervous for the qualifier than I’ve ever been before,” she admitted with a chuckle. “I don’t know if it’s because I’m so closely involved that it really matters to me that my kids go, or if it’s because my child was actually competing for a spot. But I was a bit of a basket case.”

Eden believes the BC Games will be a tremendous learning experience for her athletes.

“This is the first time they’ve really had to skate with that much pressure, where that much is on the line,” she said. “They’ve known for a couple years that this was coming, that they would be eligible, and it’s a big stepping stone for them.

“I see them determined, they’re excited, and they’re training harder. They have a goal in mind.”

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