Injury heals in time for Games

Last October, after she had finished a day of pre-season training, Michelle Workun-Hill tripped and broke her tibia. The injury has been a setback for the 17-year-old Chelseaite’s cross-country ski season, but fortunately she has healed just in time for an event she had no intention of missing – the Olympic games in Vancouver.

“Thank God,” she said with no small amount of relief.

She’s not competing but Workun-Hill will be serving as a forerunner for the games’ cross-country races in Squamish. This means skiing the course before the Olympic athletes to break the trail and to ensure the tracks are in world-class condition.

She’ll also be the object of media rehearsals, racing the course before the events and allowing the press to optimize their camera placements.

The trails are familiar terrain for the product of the Nakkertok Nordic club. Two years ago, Workun-Hill won the junior nationals as a juvenile on the same course she’ll be prepping for the world’s best.

She’s been racing competitively for four years, competing at everything from one-kilometre sprints to 15-kilometre races on the Quebec Cup circuit. She placed second at the nationals last year in Duntroon, Ont

Workun-Hill heads to B.C. with four other Quebecers on Feb. 8 after having been selected through a combination of Canada Cup points accumulated from her racing success and her answers to an online questionnaire about sharing the Olympic experience. She received $400 to cover her transportation; her meals and accommodation are also taken care of for the duration of the games.

Workun-Hill – who attended Chelsea and Grand-Boise elementary schools, De L’Ile high school and is now studying by correspondence at Heritage College while she travels and competes in the Canada Cup – said she’s looking forward to seeing in person the athletes she admires.

“They’re not superhuman,” she said, “but most people can only think about going that fast.”

She’s also looking forward to the social side, as she knows most of the other forerunners from having competed against them over the years.

As for her own Olympic aspirations, Workun-Hill is patient.

“You peak late in cross-country skiing,” she said when asked about the 2014 games, instead marking next year’s world juniors as her immediate goal.

Her younger sisters, Jessica and Jasmine, have other ideas though. They told Michelle she has to qualify for the next Olympic games so they can go.