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CHAPTER 2: MEGAN AND BRUCE OLDHAM

With final preparations underway for the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Games, CSIO presents a new article series highlighting how we deliver best-in-class sport science, sport medicine, and pathway support for Olympic and Paralympic partners. The focus of the series is on how #WECAN – CSIO and its sport partners – work together to help Olympic and Paralympic athletes, coaches, and support staff overcome adversity, adapt, and achieve their podium potential. Over the past couple of years, CSIO staff have been resilient and found innovative ways to provide best-in-class programs and services safely – Elevating People and Performance in Pursuit of #BuildingChampions. Because #WECAN.

By David Grossman

Growing up in ski country, surrounded by the beauty of snow and nature can often lead to engaging in the excitement of a very popular recreational activity.

Turns out that Megan and Bruce Oldham, sister and brother, know all about it.

It was some time ago, that the two siblings were having a chat on the sport ethos of winter skiing. That short conversation, then led to a bit more dialogue, and may very well have been the start of something big. Make that, phenomenal.

Winter skiing is a form of exercise that archaeologists claim has been around forever. People once used variations of skis to cross marshes and wetlands in inclement weather. But skiing has taken on a whole new meaning in the Oldham household.

The miracles of siblings engaging in discussion can often lead to challenges, rivalries and even a few disagreements. Not so in this case. For Megan, listening to suggestions from her older brother has worked out very well.

There’s a saying that everything happens for a reason.

As a youngster, Megan was focussed on figure skating and gymnastics. That all took a back seat after her fixation with her older brothers’ success, and enjoyment, on the slopes. While everyone has his, or her, own story about something close to their heart, the same holds true for these two.

Having learned downhill skiing at the age of five, Megan said it was Bruce who coaxed her to consider challenging the hills of Mount St. Louis Moonstone, about one hour north of Toronto. It is a ski resort that members of the family frequently visited.

Little did they know, back then, that some positive provoking by Bruce would lead to unprecedented times for his sister.

“(Bruce) thought I would enjoy freestyle skiing because he knew I really liked the flipping and spinning that I was doing in other sports,” recalled Megan, a former multi-sport athlete at Parry Sound High School.

The excitement, compounded by encouragement and endorsement for each other, really took off.

But it wasn’t until Megan celebrated her 15th birthday, that she really got hooked on a sport that had her adapt to a new vocabulary. New words, ranging from moguls and aerials to half-pipe and slopestyle, became part of her speech.

It didn’t take long for her to learn that what she enjoyed was also a sport that took place at the Winter Olympics. Times were changing for her, so why embrace mediocrity and risk indifference when intensity and impact were at your fingertips.

There have also been no limits, no constraints, and no excuses.

“I was learning new tricks, slopestyle skiing was something I really enjoyed,” added Megan, whose first season on the Ontario Timber Tour was in 2017. “I could see that my brother was over the moon, just so impressed that he was able to convince me to try something – and it worked out so well.”

Megan remembered having some doubts, but there was no turning back.

“At first, I was intimidated and saw all these big people doing it and falling,” she said. “I also didn’t think that I was very good. There has always been this urge to keep learning. The passion and adrenaline come from following in the steps of my brother.”

The siblings always had the bonus of support from their parents, Bonnie and Howard. Both thrilled with the interest, excitement, and success of their children.

What would come in the weeks and months for Megan, was something she claims to have never seen coming.

“I am now a super competitive person, experienced on the slopes, competed in major events and really enjoy representing Canada,” said Megan who, along with Bruce, receive sport science and sport medicine support from Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (CSIO) in the form of strength and conditioning and therapeutic services.

“Every time I compete, I focus on wanting to do the best that I can and come away proud and eager to improve.”

In 2018, competitions went quite well for her in Italy and California. At her first NorAm, she won it in March of that year. In 2019, Megan captured first place at an event in Switzerland.

The past few years, despite flirting with a pandemic, she’s also placed in the top three at the Norway Big Air, X-Games Aspen Big Air and Freestyle Ski World Championship. A furniture cabinet at home displays an assortment of medals, statues, and a variety of other awards.

Now, Megan Oldham, having met the qualifications to represent Canada at the Winter Olympics in China, said she’ll believe it only when standing at the Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou and Big Air Shougang in Beijing. The events are scheduled to take place between February 3 to 19.

As the highest-ranking Canadian athlete not on the National Team, Bruce won’t be competing in China. But awards come in many ways, including top five finishes in several competitions. As his sister’s biggest fan, it has inspired him to make Megan feel good about the sport while in his presence.

“Not this time for me, but, hopefully, in future years,” said Bruce, currently among the top five in the North American Cup circuit, and planning for the Winter Olympics in Italy in 2026.

“Early on, I realized that she was good, better than me and after seeing her do double flips, my sister was doing big time things. I am so proud of her and now she’s pushing me to compete at a very high level. My goal, is to one day catch up to her and get more medals.”

Heather Ross McManus, High Performance Director for Freestyle Ontario, remembers hearing about Megan’s acrobatic background, saw her train in Quebec and knew she had the makings of a high calibre athlete.

“(Megan) was named to the National Team before being chosen to the Ontario Team – she was that good,” said Ross McManus, a former international calibre athlete who competed at the 2004 Olympics in Athens as a member of the Canadian National Trampoline Team. “(Megan) has leap-frogged ahead of others because of her talent and hard work.”

Ross McManus also had high marks for the working relationship between Freestyle Ontario and the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario.

“Our needs and (CSIO’s) expertise, it’s really a great rapport,” she said. “We have quite a few athletes from Ontario competing with the best in the world and CSIO, through the Ontario High Performance Sport Initiative (OHPSI) program, is able to customize things such as therapy, as well as strength and conditioning for our athletes.”

Freestyle Ontario, benefitting from weather conditions, operates hubs in the Barrie and Ottawa regions and OHPSI and CSIO allows for the sustained success of athletes and coaches when abroad and at the very highest levels of international sport.

David Grossman is a veteran multi award-winning Journalist and Broadcaster with some of Canada’s major media, including the Toronto Star and SPORTSNET 590 THE FAN, and a Public Relations professional for 45+ years in Canadian sports and Government relations.

About Canadian Sport Institute Ontario

Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (CSIO) is a non-profit organization committed to the pursuit of excellence by providing best-in-class programs, services, and leadership to high performance athletes, coaches, and National and Provincial Sport Organizations to enhance their ability to achieve international podium performances. Our team of expert staff deliver sport science, sport medicine, life services, and coaching and technical leadership support to help Canada win medals and strengthen the sport system in Ontario and Canada. CSIO is part of the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network, working in partnership with the Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Own the Podium, and the Coaching Association of Canada. CSIO is further supported by funding partners such as the Ministry of Heritage,

Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries and Sport Canada. www.csiontario.ca

Media Contact:

Laura Albright, Senior Advisor, Communications & Marketing

Canadian Sport Institute Ontario

Phone: 647.395.7536 Email: lalbright@csiontario.c