Cassie Hawrysh


To The Bone

Hallelujah that it’s over - what went through you - broke the spell - but until it makes you stronger - what don’t kill you - hurts like hell.

For the last three months I have been experiencing a reoccurring dream in the early hours of the morning. I am in bed, asleep, and I very clearly and distinctly hear my doorbell ring. It startles me awake. I panic, thinking someone is at the door. So I throw off the duvet, fumble through tired eyes, grab some clothes, (hoping my shorts aren’t on backwards) and race up the stairs. I slow down my pace and peek out the peephole …

Every time it’s the same.


There is no one there.

This had me a bit thrown after the forth or fifth time, so I did what any teenage girl would do – and I looked up what it “meant” to dream about hearing a doorbell… ha!

So you can imagine that when I pressed ‘search’ - for reasons that are self-evident – the “meaning” that popped up felt like a cruel joke: “Hearing a doorbell in your dream can mean: you’re thinking about/ wishing for an opportunity, or someone or something new in your life.”

No kidding.

I have had myself convinced that once I published my last blog, I would somehow feel like myself, and for a moment or two, I did. But to have allowed myself to presume that anything would be the same after this past season – was entirely naïve.

The pressure I’ve been putting on myself to write a follow up entry that would help me explain my world post-5-ring-circus – was overwhelming. I wanted an entry that would sort through all the broken pieces of my heart, the messed up confidence and unclear path; a post that would ultimately have me putting everything back together so that I could finally push myself through to the other side of this bullshit.

But like that reoccurring dream, no matter how many times I sat down, no matter how long I stared at the screen or talked to my family, friends, teammates, strangers, or myself – the swirling hurricane of confusion wouldn’t clear for long enough to let me see the proverbial field through the trees; nothing was there.

Finally, I realized that it wasn’t going to be about trying to make things make sense - it would have to be about the fear of the unknown itself – looking through that peep hole and discovering that I’m staring right at the beginning a new chapter entirely.

So here it is:

Chapter 1

To say that great deal of change has rushed over the Canadian Skeleton program is an understatement!

- New National Team Criteria/ Athlete Pathways were written that place a much, much heavier importance on the athlete’s 50m start-time in the icehouse as a direct gauge for athleticism and ability as a Skeleton Racer.

- Returning athletes have been divided into a 3-tiered system – in which the athletes push time, once again, is the main determining factor. In which support and funding are allocated accordingly.

- If the respective push standard (women 5.25/men 4.85) cannot be met at the determined testing time – the skeleton athlete will not be considered for the National or Prospective National Team.

- Strength and Conditioning programming is now being written and administered by Quinn Sekulich and Mac Read to the Skeleton and Bobsleigh athletes as one unit – and identified Tier 1 and Tier 2 train in their respective tiered group.

-Own the Podium annihilated funding to the Canadian Skeleton program from approx. $900,000 last season (2013/14) to $20,000 for the upcoming 2014/15 season. 

Several items were identified as contributing factors to the reduction in funding:

--- Olympic Performance in Sochi trending from Torino < Vancouver
--- World Class Coaching Expertise in the Daily Training Environment
--- 2018 - 2022 Identified Medal Potential Athletes
--- Evidence Based Performance Tracking and Progression

-Which resulted in contract-termination for: newly-named Canadian Skeleton Head Coach, Kelly Forbes, returning Assistant Coach, Keith Loach, and World Cup Team Manager, Scott McBride.

And …

- Currently I am the only returning WC athlete who has not been approved for pre-season, continual Sport Canada AAP carding through the summer (4 months).

So far, the link below is the only media coverage this has received:

The weight that these massive changes have put on the sport we love, and the athletes who represent Canada on the world stage – is immense.  People may say, you shouldn't worry about what you can’t control, and I agree – but sometimes we forget that very little is entirely out of our control when we’re willing to be the ones who stand up for what we want.

Skeleton is so much of my every day life that after 6 years, there are times when I can barely tell where I begin and it ends – and perhaps that has been my biggest and scariest realization – a slow and yet sudden awareness that not only do I decidedly dedicate my heart and soul, sweat and tears to this journey/battle – but that it has quite literally become a physical part of me – it courses it’s way through my blood – it guides the air in and out of my lungs, and it is continually building an integral part of my structure – Skeleton has embedded itself into the core of my bones - for now; for always.

Chase down your passion like it’s the last bus of the night.

If nothing else, please recognize that I’m not writing this post merely as some kind of sounding board – my words have appeared here in hopes that there is truth to the possibility of one voice creating actual consciousness in others and to reaffirm that despite this endless business of back room deals and corporate decisions – our continued dedication as amateur Canadian athletes isn’t for nothing.

I’m tired of smiling and nodding. I’m tired of just standing in line feeling like I’m waiting for my name to be called. These changes and the future decisions have the potential to entirely overhaul Canadian Skeleton as we know it – and they will! The HOW, however, is entirely up to us (and you, if you want to help!). Through it all, for better or for worse, I personally am not backing down; the push for better (from myself and from the organization) has only just begun. I will continue to train as hard and even harder than ever – no matter what – whether the odds end up against me, or with me - I will find a way to win – because that’s what I do.

In my sport – where you look is where you go.

So, like any winning pilot – whether my last move was flawless or is going to need review – my eyes remain steady; I will keep looking straight ahead.

-Cassie Elise

"A victory podium is only 22 inches off the ground" - Own The Podium, Step Up, Canada

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