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Exploding out of the gates with my sled by my side, I sprint across the ice and land head first into the saddle that cradles my ribs and waist. In the same instant, I calm my heart to its slowest beat-pattern and navigate a frozen wonderland of twists and turns - all the while resisting gravitational forces of up to five times my body weight. No seatbelt. No brakes. And a dizzying speed up to 140km/hour. I keep ankles together and arms glued by my side. I may not wear a cape. But this is how I fly.

My name is Cassie Hawrysh, I was born and raised in Brandon, Manitoba and I’m most commonly known as a member of the Canadian National Team as a Skeleton Racer. That being said, there was once a time I was more commonly recognized on the volleyball courts and as a multi-disciplined athlete in the track and field world. 

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Almost eight years ago, I was a recent University of Regina graduate from the School of Journalism with a full-time job, challenging the 400m Hurdles across the country, and was fully convinced that I had all my ducks in a row. However sometimes when we get caught up standing really close to a point of time in our life we aren’t always aware the image is out of focus. In a random flash of reality - which I could have brushed aside as insecurity, worry or confusion - my heart spoke up. I allowed myself to step back, way back and see the bigger picture. In that moment, I discovered my world looked nothing like I thought.

Thankfully, with the support of my family and some patience with myself I was able to set out on a brand new journey - a journey that placed me right into the arms of Skeleton Racing.

Never be subject to the perceived power of “how things have always been done”. Find your true north and push past the default.

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June 2009
I was invited to do summer dry land training with some of the then Olympic-hopeful Skeleton Racers of the 2010 Olympic Games.

October 2009
I learned the basics of Skeleton and was able to take my first runs from the top of the Canada Olympic Park track in Calgary not only surviving, but loving every single millisecond of it. And demanding I be allowed to go again.

February 2010
I was able to be trackside in Whistler, BC as Russell, Manitoba’s Jon Montgomery won Men’s Skeleton GOLD during the Vancouver Winter Olympics. It was truly AMAZING! A moment of Maple Leaf pride that I can never truly describe - I think all of Canada felt like they were atop that podium with Jon that night!

October 2012
During our annual team selection races, I earned my place on Canada’s World Cup team.

February 2014
Was named at the Alternate sled for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia!

I continue to pursue my Olympic goals and I’m racing to be a member of the 2018 Winter Olympic Team, which will be held in PyeongChang, South Korea. 

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I’ll give you a moment to catch your breath; it’s a lot to take in. The truth is, some days I have a difficult time processing it all myself. And while that quick recap reads like a perfectly executed plan, I must admit the truth is: it has been anything but.

I have been and continue to be faced with hurdles every step of way. Both internal and external, some expected and others heart-breaking. As such, no matter where you are right now, no matter what dream you are chasing, or have yet to realize: I want to leave you with one thought: Never be subject to the perceived power of “how things have always been done”. Find your true north and push past the default.

I strive to live my #BeautifulTough every single day and you best believe, you can too.

Written by:
Cassie Hawrysh
Canadian Skeleton Racer

June 02, 2016 — Cassie Hawrysh
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