Short Track - Daigle gives Canada cause for cheer
Host country fans faced a long wait for an Olympic champion in Calgary. While they had plenty of silvers and bronzes to cheer, gold medals proved elusive. They finally got one in the short track, which was a demonstration sport in 1988, but still drew huge crowds. Much to the delight of the home crowd, Canada’s Sylvie Daigle emerged as the star of the women’s events.
She had taken up speed skating when she was nine years old and began competing eight years later, winning three gold medals at the Canadian Winter Games. She went on to compete at the 1980 and 1984 Olympic Winter Games, earning top-20 finishes. However, it was to be in the short track that she would go on to enjoy her greatest success.
Her decision to make the switch came following a knee injury, when her coach decided to set up a short-track team. It became clear very quickly that she was an absolute natural over the shorter track, attacking the bends and showing a natural affinity for the different tactics and approach required.
In Calgary, she won a demonstration gold medal in the 1,500m and added silver medals in the 1,000m and 3,000m and bronzes in the 500m and 3,000m relay. It was an incredible haul and set her on the road to even greater success. Short track was officially adopted as an Olympic discipline in 1992, with Daigle taking a gold medal in the 3,000m relay. She went on to win a silver in Lillehammer in 1994, after which she retired to complete a medical degree.