With a key matchup approaching against the United States, the Canadian national women’s ice sledge hockey team has assembled a roster, consisting of a unique blend of veteran stars and new faces, bringing tremendous promise. Among those new faces is Myriam Adam, a 22-year old forward from Chicoutimi, Quebec.
One of four Quebec-born players on this year’s roster, joined by Sophie Forest, Veronique Major and Vanessa Racine, there is a strong element of familiarity among them. Of note, the four were members of the Quebec provincial women’s ice sledge hockey team that competed at the fifth Challenge Hivernal Adaptavie in February 2015. The event also featured blind hockey and adaptive hockey.
Adam also represents a new development for the national team, the emergence of two-sport stars. Of note, Jessie Gregory and Claire Buchanan (plus former national team member Corin Metzger) compete on the hardcourt in wheelchair basketball. Charter member Peggy Assinck recently completed in wheelchair floorball at the Paragames Breda in the Netherlands.
Of all the team’s two-sport stars, the one that Adam has the most in common with is Jessica Matassa. Both share the special bond of having competed for Canada at the Parapan Am Games. Of note, Matassa would capture three gold medals in the T54 wheelchair races contested at the 200-meter, 400-meter and 800-meter distances.
Starting to blaze a trail in paracycling at the tender age of 17, the results quickly followed. Adam earned a pair of silver medals at the 2010 UCI Para-Cycling Road World Championships, establishing herself as a world-class athlete. Coincidentally, the event was held in her home province of Quebec. While she also competes in swimming and wheelchair basketball (both recreationally),
At the 2011 Parapan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, Adam grabbed the gold medal in the Hand Cycle Mixed Road Race event (classification: H1M/H1-2W). The chance to win gold at such a prestigious international sporting event was a moment beyond compare. Taking into account that Adam looked up to fellow wheelchair racer Chantal Petitclerc, one of Canada’s most accomplished international athletes, the chance to carry in her proud legacy, added to the jubilation of an athletic milestone,
“It was a dream come true! I had difficulty realising that I won the race at such an important event. Even when I returned home, I still could not believe that I won the gold. It was quite a thrill!”
While Adam would grow up to establish herself as a world-class competitor in hand cycling, there was a part of her that longed to be on the ice. Hoping to emulate her brother, who began ice hockey at a young age, it was an aspiration that at one time seemed out of reach due to the results of a car accident in her childhood. Despite the accident sidelining those dreams, it would only prove to be temporary as Adam was eventually destined to grace the ice.
“My brother played hockey since he was 5 years old. When I was young, before I became paraplegic, I would have liked to play hockey like my big brother. After our car accident, I realised that I could not play hockey like him. I wanted to do team sports but I could not because I was living in a small town where there were no adapted sports.
As individual adapted sport was more accessible, I started to do paracycling. When I participated in handbike at my first « defi sportif », a multisports competition in Montreal, I decided to watch other sports. I discovered that there were also sledge hockey games. I watched it and I even had the opportunity to try it. In 2011, when I moved close to Montreal (for other reasons than sport), I started to play sledge hockey because I could! I play since then!”
Establishing herself as a world-class competitor in hand cycling, the chance to extend her athletic legacy and become a member of the Canadian national women’s ice sledge hockey team was a dream come true. When not with the national team, Adam is a member of the Rive-Sud club from Montreal, helping to propel a pioneering era for the sport in Quebec.
“That meant a lot to me. Just the idea of being able to participate in the selection camp made me very happy and thrilled. When I learned that I made the team I was even more excited. I had anticipated to participate for the past years but was unable to because I had cycling competition at the same time. I am very proud to be able to represent my country in sledge hockey. As my lesion is high and I cannot use any of my abdominals, which is important in sledge hockey, I wasn’t sure if I could play at the national level.
It also changes my perception because before I was chosen as player on the national sledge hockey team, even if I really like it and I always give my 100%, I considered myself a cyclist who did sledge hockey as a recreational sport. Now, it is different, I consider both important, cycling as well as sledge hockey. I am grateful to have been selected on the Canadian women sledge hockey team.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo details: Sophie Forest, Veronique Major, Myriam Adam and Vanessa Racine (Supplied by Myriam Adam)
Parapan Am Games photo credit: Hector Guerrero, STR/AFP/Getty Images