Local athlete Liz Janze loves speed.
As a child, she raced down ski hills and delighted in being the first to reach the bottom. So, it was no surprise when Janze joined the Mission Racers speed skating club seven years ago at the age of 14.
Her experience with skis helped her adapt to the long skate blades and in no time, she was ready to take her training to the next level.
“(Coaches) Bruce Wenting and Derrick Ross gave me the introductory steps,” said the 21-year-old Janze, who will always remember it was those first steps that started her journey to becoming a high performance athlete.
Janze later joined the club in Matsqui to get more ice time to help her advance her goals.
There are so many emotions with it, said Janze about the sport. She often raced others as well as herself for personal best times.
After graduating from Mission Secondary in 2011, Janze continued to work and train. She reached a national performance level and competed against the country’s best in Montreal in 2012. It was her first and last nationals.
Janze moved to Calgary the following year to continue her high performance training at the Olympic Oval, and it was there she fell in love with another sport, bobsleigh.
“Bobsleigh chose me,” said Janze, who is also studying community rehabilitation and disability studies at the University of Calgary.
Janze had met a professional bobsledder who invited her to try it out.
“My first run down the track was a bit of a rough ride, but I knew I had to give the sport another try.”
Operating as the brakeman, Janze pushed the sled 10 more times down the track, reaching speeds of 130 km/h. She thought she’d be scared, but she thrived on the challenge.
“It made me want to set another goal,” she said. “How much faster can I go?”
It didn’t take long for Janze to realize she was hooked and in a short while, she changed her focus.
Now she is setting her sights on being a part of the provincial and national bobsleigh team.
She is beginning a movement called From Mission on a Mission to inspire local youth and engage community groups about becoming a high performance athlete and to raise funds for her training.
“Sponsorship is important because it helps me achieve my goal,” said Janze, acknowledging the support she has already receive from the Mission community to get to where she is today.
“A lot of these skills I didn’t learn on my own. I had coaches and community volunteers support me and now I want to give back.”
She plans to give back to the community by talking to groups about balancing education with high-performance hobbies, goal-setting, and how to pursue a passion in life, in hopes of inspiring others.
Janze recently teamed up with BlackPress4Good.com to raise awareness and funds.
For more information about Janze, to view her video, or to support her mission, visit http://fnd.us/c/ena70.