By Barrhaven Independent Staff
If anyone who knew Mike Evelyn when he was a kid growing up in Barrhaven, they would know that his Olympic dream would be to play hockey for Team Canada.
Evelyn is in Beijing competing for Canada this week, but it is on a different kind of ice surface than a hockey rink. He will be wearing Canada’s colours as part of the national bobsledding team.
In 2018, just a month after the PyeongChang Olympics, Evelyn attended an RBC Training Ground event in Atlantic Canada. At the time, he was studying engineering and playing university hockey at the University of Dalhousie in Halifax. The RBC program helps identify athletes with Olympic potential through a series of tests. Bobsleigh Canada recruited him, and before long, he was on his way to becoming a Canadian Olympian.
“I didn’t really think about doing it until they approached me,” Evelyn told Dal News last month over Zoom while in his hotel room in Latvia. “I didn’t go out specifically looking for bobsled, I went to that RBC Training Ground looking for any chance at any sport basically. I definitely didn’t feel drawn to it until I tried it, it’s quite the rush. It’s hard to put into words, it’s a little bit like a roller coaster that’s not on rails.”
As a hockey player, Evelyn had made a name for himself locally. He grew up playing in the Nepean Minor Hockey Association. He spent four years in junior hockey, splitting his time between the CCHL’s Nepean Raiders and Ottawa Jr. Senators, and the Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Winchester Hawks. When his junior career ended, Evelyn made the jump to USports hockey to play for the Dalhousie Tigers.
In 2019, Evelyn graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He began training and competing as a bobsledder while working at Lockheed Martin. He also went to Calgary to train in the national bobsledding pilot program, and decided to pursue the sport.
In Calgary, Evelyn got to step foot on a bobsled track and get a close up look at it.
“The first thing we did was actually walk the track and I didn’t realize that the corners are walls, they’re 20 or 25 feet high and they’re almost 90 degrees to the ground,” Evelyn told Dal News. “I kind of thought it was sort of like a slightly banked curve racetrack, but you get totally sideways, and I wasn’t prepared for that.”
Evelyn began competing for Team Canada in Oct. 2019. His first race was in Lake Placid as part of the North American Cup circuit. Evelyn quickly excelled in the sport, and his four-man team piloted by Taylor Austin took gold in a race in Park City, Utah.
In January 2021, Evelyn made his debut for Canada on the World Cup circuit. He continued to improve in both the four-man and two-man events. In December, 2021, Evelyn and Christopher Spring finished fourth in a pair of races in Altenberg, Germany.
In the four-man event, Evelyn has spent this season in Canada’s number two sled on the World Cup alongside veteran pilot Spring, former NFL and CFL wide receiver Samuel Giguere, and Cody Sorensen. The sled has consistently finished in the top 15 all year, highlighted by a season-best eighth place finish in Winterberg, Germany.
The first two heats of the four-man event will be Fri. Feb. 18 at 8:30 p.m. EST, while the third and fourth heats are the following day, also at 8:30 p.m. Legendary CBC sports broadcaster and Ottawa native Mark Lee will be calling the races for CBC.