Features & Images » Feature Story

Whistler Olympians

In other words… Michael Janyk



Friday night, Village Square, opening ceremonies in Whistler for the 2010 Olympics, there wasn't much debate when the announcer asked which of the Canadian athletes standing on stage would like to step forward and speak to the crowd.

Within a blink of an eye, local boy Michael Janyk was up front, grinning ear to ear, chest out, as the massive crowd below cheered, clanged cowbells and madly waved red mittens. If there was any hesitation on Michael's part, it didn't last long.

"My name is Michael Janyk and this is my hometown!" he bellowed into the microphone in classic Michael fashion, launching into a speech about how stoked he was to compete on Whistler Mountain for Olympic medals.

"I remember standing here seven years ago when we were awarded the Games! I thought this day would never come, but we're here, where I grew up and went to school. This is beyond imagination. Thank you, thank you!"

Whether boisterously singing to a Swiss crowd while wearing the team cowboy hat or cruising around the Stanley Park seawall in the lederhosen that ski fans in Kirchberg, Austria gave him after placing third in the slalom at last year's world championships, Michael has developed an international reputation for his charming and outgoing personality.

"My brother is crazy," laughs his younger sister, Stephanie Janyk. "Even when you watch my brother ski, he is nuts. He is like, 'I am going to throw myself down the hill.'"

The 27-year-old slalom racer even used to go by the nickname The Gong Show because of the way he flailed his arms around. Every time he races, Stephanie knows he is repeating the mantra "Go big or go home" in his head.

"He is thinking, 'If I am going to go down this course, I am going to win. Why would I be here if I am not going to give it my all?'" said Stephanie.

Michael's mother, Andrée Janyk, added: "When you see Michael, you can see he is a competitive person."

His outgoing personality does not hide the fact that he has worked hard to make it to the Olympics. While he may have been laughing on stage during the opening ceremonies, Michael is also hardworking and humble. He has put in grueling hours of training to make it to this point.

"I don't think any of these guys can make to on the national team without work," said former coach Denis Ebacher. "Talent doesn't really cut it. Anyone with extreme talent when they were young, when I coached them, they are not on the national team now."