Olympian Jamie Macdonald has officially announced her retirement from short track speed skating. The native of Fort St. James, B.C., represented Canada on the international stage for five seasons, most notably at the 2018 Olympic Games in PyeongChang.
Macdonald, 24, last reached the international podium at the 2018 World Championships in Montreal, winning bronze with the women’s relay team and finishing fourth in the 500m. Earlier that year she reached the pinnacle of the sport, competing in the ladies’ 500m and 3,000m relay at the Games in South Korea.
“I am very proud of my skating career and all of the life lessons this sport has taught me, recounted Macdonald. “I loved the challenge of short track and the satisfaction of reaching milestones in the sport. I think going through such a high-pressure environment has helped me learn a lot about myself and how much my mind and body can handle.”
According to her national team coach, it her desire to improve and to win that set her apart.
“Jamie was an exceptional athlete with a determination to try to become better each and every day,” said Canadian women’s national team coach Frédéric Blackburn. “When she started on the international circuit, she wasn’t scared of losing a bronze medal in order to try and get a silver or gold, which demonstrates her exceptional desire to win.”
At 16-years-old, Macdonald represented British Columbia at the 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax, before making the move to Calgary to train full-time at the Olympic Oval.
She made her international debut at the 2013 Winter Universiade in Trentino, Italy, and captured her first international medal, bronze with the women’s 3000m relay team, two years later at the 2015 Winter Universiade in Granada, Spain.
She officially joined the senior national team in 2015 and went on to compete in 14 World Cups, winning four silver and five bronze medals along the way, including three in individual distances.
“I made some big sacrifices to make it in skating, leaving behind my entire support system to move to Montreal and achieve my goal of making it to the Olympics,” added Macdonald, who was often the only national ranked skater in her northern B.C. training groups.
“There are a lot of people who helped me throughout my career. I would like to thank my family for always supporting me and my dreams, all of my coaches for helping me get to such a high level in the sport, and my boyfriend Scott for supporting me through the tough times and celebrating the good moments with me.”
This past fall, Macdonald was crowned Canadian short track champion after earning one gold and three silver medals at the national championship event in Montreal. Despite these impressive results, she decided to take some time away from international competition to recharge following her first Olympic Games.
“I took the last season off from international competition so that I could reset mentally and physically after the long Olympic cycle,” she noted. “It was during that time that I realized I was ready to pursue the next chapter in my life. I realized that the stress and commitment to skating was taking a toll on my mental health. I was able to find balance in my life that I didn’t realize I was missing so much.”
While she may be done competing, Macdonald doesn’t plan on hanging up her skate just yet.
“I still love short track and I am looking to stay involved in the sport in a different role. I plan on helping with some camps over the summer and possibly move into coaching in the coming years.”
In addition to giving back to the speed skating community, she will look to use the lessons learnt during her time as an elite athlete to help the next generation reach their goals in the classroom.
“I am planning on finishing my schooling and becoming a teacher. I think it will be a lot of fun to work with kids and help them realize their full potential.”