Charlottetown, PE – Before the Winter Games come to a close in PEI, athletes will walk in the closing ceremony Sunday night at the Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown.
When they do, they’ll be led out by Team Saskatchewan athlete Krystle Shewchuk.
“I was a little bit shocked,” recalls Shewchuk when asked about hearing the news for the first time. “I wasn’t expecting it, but it’s awesome.”
On Saturday afternoon, Team Saskatchewan Chef de Mission Mark Bracken called an impromptu meeting with the cross country ski team. Krystle, and the other athletes had no idea what was coming.
That’s the moment Bracken broke the news to Krystle in front of her coaches and teammates.
“She medaled today, which is great,” explains Bracken when asked about making the decision. “I think, more importantly, she’s a four time Canada Games participant.”
(She’s) a medalist in two different sports. And when you look at opening or closing ceremonies flag bearers, it’s about performance, but it’s also about somebody who is a role model. Somebody who has shown that they are committed to Team Saskatchewan and sport in the province. So, she just rose to the top for week two as somebody who should lead our contingent in for closing ceremonies.”
Shewchuk earned another Canada Games medal for Saskatchewan when she won bronze in the para sit ski 5 km interval start on Saturday. The medal is Krystle’s fifth in her Canada Games career.
“It’s been amazing,” explained Shewchuk when asked about her medal, and the Canada Games experience. “And I find their sit ski course here too has been probably the best one I’ve been on so far. So, it’s been really good. A great experience.”
In August, at the 2022 Canada Summer Games in Niagara, Krystle, and the rest of the sailing athletes, didn’t know if they’d even be able to compete due to the lack of wind needed for sailing.
Once they did, she took full advantage.
Shewchuk sailed her way to her best Canada Games finish and earned a silver medal for her and her province. It was her fourth career medal.
Shewchuk began her Canada Games career by competing in para sailing at the 2017 Canada Summer games in Winnipeg. She then competed in the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, where she won three bronze medals, in the 2.5km, 5km and sprint in the Sit-Ski class.
The moment Bracken made the announcement, Shewchuk’s teammates and coaches erupted in cheer.
“(Krystle) has just been so consistent and committed,” explained coach Lauren Miranda. ” She trained a lot by herself this year and so I think she really deserves this opportunity.”
Shewchuk will lead Saskatchewan’s contingent of athletes when they walk in the Closing Ceremony, scheduled for Sunday night at 7:30 pm AST in Charlottetown.
“It’s really special, especially being that this is the last (Canada Games) before I age out,” reflected Shewchuk, moments after being given the news. “I’ve been training really hard for this moment and so I’m quite grateful. It’s been a long road.”
Even though she’s won five Canada Games medals, against the best competition in the country, leading out Team Saskatchewan will be one final feat.
“I’m going to be really nervous,” Krystle said with a laugh. “But I’m pretty excited for it. It will be quite nice.”
Krystle’s bronze medal brings Saskatchewan’s total medal count to 20 at these Winter Games, three more than the team earned at the last Games, back in 2019.
Having Krystle Shewchuk lead Saskatchewan into the Closing Ceremony will be the perfect way to end two great, and successful weeks in Prince Edward Island.