September 20, 2012, CALGARY—Dynamic women’s bobsleigh duo, Helen Upperton and Shelley-Ann Brown, have decided to park their Canadian sled and retire, the Olympic silver medallists announced on Thursday.
Sliding into retirement as one of Canada’s most accomplished women’s bobsleigh pilots, Calgary’s Helen Upperton teamed up with the explosive Brown, of Pickering, Ont., where they electrified the nation in 2010 when they were part of Canada’s one-two Olympic finish on home ice in Whistler, B.C.
“Today marks the end of an incredible journey and amazing chapter in my life. I feel I have accomplished a tremendous amount in my bobsleigh career, but the time has come to say good-bye,” said Upperton, who began piloting in 2003. “I am leaving the sport with great memories, friendships and experiences I will hold close forever. I have had the privilege of competing with amazing teammates, most importantly Shelley-Ann and JennyCiochetti, who have pushed me to be a better person and athlete both on and off the ice. But now it is time to move on to new challenges and opportunities.”
The 32-year-old Upperton put the Canadian women’s bobsleigh program on the international map during her breakthrough season in 2005-06 where she became the first female Canuck to win a World Cup race. Afierce competitor, Upperton made her Olympic debut in 2006 with Heather Moyse where they finished a heart-breaking fourth. After teaming up with Jenny Ciochetti and Brown leading to the 2010 Olympics, Upperton went on to drive the Canada 1 sled to six World Cup victories and 20 podium finishes along with many more team medals.
“When I started the men’s program was so successful with Pierre Lueders setting a high standard of excellence. I was determined to get our women’s program on that same podium,” said Upperton. “Thanks to great teammates, we accomplished this goal together. It was always such an honour to slide with Shelley-Ann. She is the true definition of what a Canadian Olympian is: humble, proud, incredibly committed to giving back to the community, and one of the best all-round athletes that has ever come through our sport.”
Photo Credit: Charlie Booker
“Retiring as an athlete is bittersweet because it’s the last line in one of the most significant chapters in one’s life. Yet, I look back over my Canadian bobsleigh career with nothing but utter gratitude,” added Brown, who joined the program in 2006 and teamed up with Upperton for the 2009-10 Olympic year. “I’m so thankful to have been surrounded by my wonderful family, surrogate families, teammates and friends who have made my journey so much sweeter. This period of time has changed my life in so many ways and I am a better person for the struggles, the defeats, the joys and the triumphs. It’s incredible to think that I came from barely knowing anything about winter sports, to standing on the podium at the Vancouver Games, and becoming part of Canada’s history.
It was an honour to stand beside Helen – who isnothing short of a trailblazer in Canadian sport – to singing ‘O Canada’ with the rest of the nation. I leave the sport of bobsleigh with so many cherished memories and life lessons that I will take into the next chapters of my life. While I will miss the sport (not the cold, though!) and the people, I’m eager to explore new and exciting adventures in my life.”
After more than one decade of blood, sweat and tears, the two university track standouts are departing the sport with the Canadian squad amongst the best in the world.
“Helen and Shelley-Ann are leaving our sport having played a significant role in putting us on the international radar screen, and ensuring its credibility within the Canadian sport system,” said Reid Morrison, president, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton. “Doing much of the heavy lifting for our women’s program with talented athletes like Shelley-Ann in her sled, Helen has opened the door for other Canadian women to believe they too can get on the podium, and win.”
Upperton has quickly begun following a track to a new career while hosting/co-producing an adventure reality show with Shaw-TV that will begin airing in October. She also has begun giving back to the Canadian sport community by mentoring young athletes. Brown, who has a master’s degree in educational psychology, has enrolled in teachers college at the University of Toronto, and has also been giving back to the community by training and mentoring young athletes and running fitness camps for adults through her new business, Joyful Inc.
“We are both so fortunate to have been given the opportunity to represent Canada internationally, and have the ability to pursue our dreams in sport,” said Brown and Upperton. “Many people have been a key part of this journey, and have held us both up through the tough moments while celebrating the victories. Most importantly our friends and family, but all of our teammates, coaches, therapists, mechanics, the staff at Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton and our sponsors RBC Olympians Program, B2ten, Own the Podium, Jennings Capital and Dilawri Automotive Group. We simply could not have accomplished our goals without every one of you.”
Bobsleigh CANADA Skeleton is a non-profit organization and the national governing body for the sports of bobsleigh and skeleton in Canada. With the support of its valued corporate partners – Dow Chemical, Adidas, KBC Helmets, Eurotech – Viking Engineering, SAIT Polytechnic, Conceptum Sport Logistics, Therapeutica – along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee and Own the Podium, Bobsleigh CANADA Skeleton develops Olympic and world champions. Please visit us at www.bobsleighcanadaskeleton.ca.