Training with Canada’s best

Mission bobsledder works with Team Canada athletes

Mission's Liz Janze pushes during a National team bobsled event in Calgary. The Mission native hopes to compete in the event at the Olympics.

By: Ben Lypka, Mission City Record

Mission’s Liz Janze has dove head and feet first into the sport of bobsleigh.

After years of competitive speed skating, she has dedicated herself to pushing a several-hundred-pound sled as fast as possible. So far, the results have been promising.

“It’s going really well,” she said, of her entry into the sport. “Big improvements have been made since March with my sprinting ability and just my overall strength.”

This summer Janze delved into intense training with the sport and later this fall competed at Team Canada selections.

“Over the summer what I did was icehouse sessions,” she said. “There’s an indoor ice hill at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary and it was a lot of practising my bobsleigh push. We go down the hill and back up and only have to focus on the technique of the push, I worked on that all summer.”

Janze then used all of that training to be a brakeman at the Team Canada selections in October. She said being around the best Canada has to offer in the sport ignited her passion for bobsleigh.

“That was an amazing experience,” she said. “Spending two weeks at the track and just seeing the professionalism of the Olympic and provincial competitors, I couldn’t help but step up my game. With bobsleigh you have to get the etiquette of the sport quickly and working with all these athletes left me so hungry to strive for excellence. I want to build on that.”

She worked with several different athletes during the selections as a brakeman, helping athletes with their initial push and then pulling the brakes at the end.

“The key part for a brakeman is to have a fast push,” she said. “You’re pushing a 300- to 400-pound sled as fast as you can and then hop in.”

Bobsleigh athletes reach speeds of well over 100 kilometres per hour, and Janze said she’s been doing a lot of two-person racing but is also open to four person.

“It’s faster and the sled is heavier but it’s more comfy,” she said, laughing.

The 21-year-old is starting the sport at the right age. Janze pointed out that many of the elite athletes in the sport are between the ages of 25 to 30.

“I have lots of time to grow and develop,” she said. “It’s making me more determined. I think I have at least six more years in the sport, and I want to get on the World Cup circuit, hopefully in a year or two.”

She said she needs to work on getting her sprint times down, noting she’s shaved off three-tenths of a second this summer and she’s approaching the national sprint standard. She said her strength coach said he’s happy with her progress.

While training for bobsleigh, Janze is living in Calgary and attending the University of Calgary. She has also recently become an ambassador for KidSportBC, and she’s hoping to work directly with Mission youth when she returns home.

“Reducing financial barriers for kids to participate in sports is something KidSport and myself are passionate about,” she said. “No kid should get left off the sidelines, and sport has so much more to offer than just physical activity. I’m happy to be a part of it.”

Janze said she’s also looking for sponsorship opportunities with local businesses, and all interested can contact her at liz.janze@gmail.com.

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