The official countdown to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, is well underway for Corner Brook’s Lee Churchill.
It’s something that’s been circled on his calendar for a few years — with good reason.
The Newfoundlander is a technician for Alex Harvey, one of Canada’s top cross-country skiers, and plays a crucial role on the Olympic team.
“To go to Pyeongchang in February and be part of the Olympics, and what Team Canada and Alex will produce, will be very, very special and very overwhelming,” Churchill told CBC News from Lillehammer, Norway.
Churchill, who’s originally from Hodge’s Cove, is in Europe this week with Harvey at a World Cup event.
Churchill describes his job as being a “clone” for Harvey, and spends his days preparing his skis with the right wax for each course and conditions.
Once the skis are waxed, Churchill helps Harvey prepare for the course by skiing it with him to talk strategy.
It’s a job that can win or lose a race, which is something Churchill doesn’t take lightly.
“At the end of the day, it’s my job to give confidence to him that this is the best ski to win come race day.”
High praise for Harvey
Harvey’s coaches hired Churchill after a disappointing 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Their main objective was success in Pyeongchang.
Churchill has been working with Harvey since then, and has high praise for the skier.
“I [have] believed for a number of years he is one of the strongest, smartest athletes in the world.”
And for Churchill, who made a name for himself as an elite cross-country skier before he switched to coaching, getting to go to the Olympics is a dream come true.
“To go participate in the Games with an athlete who potentially could bring home a couple of medals — it’s a tremendous feeling.”
Harvey made headlines last winter when he won the 50-kilometre freestyle race at the cross-country world championships in Finland in March.
Churchill says the bar is set high for Harvey heading to Pyeongchang.
“We’re expecting nothing less than coming home with, not just a medal, but winning — winning a gold medal.”