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Summer Olympians Winter Sport Choice? Cross-Country Skiing.

Updated: Mar 3, 2023

On a beautiful snowy January day in Gatineau, Québec, Canadian Wintersports and The First Lap brought out three Olympic athletes to have fun on cross-country skis - and maybe to help them improve their technique. Unfortunately, Devon Kershaw was unable to make it ;)

However, three summer Olympians did. These three Olympians are frequently skiing the trails in Gatineau Park, staying active and enjoying the outdoors. Dylan Wykes may be the most novice skier in the trio; however, his enthusiasm and fitness have brought him a long way in a short time. Having skied from a younger age, John Halvorsen and Adam Van Koeverden embraced cross-country skiing as their winter sport after their Olympic careers in summer sports wrapped up.

Climbing Trail #26, Gatineau Park, Video Still By Vince Harttrup

All three athletes are known for their dedication and hard work. Their success in the Olympic Games and other international competitions may inspire others to lead a more active and healthy lifestyle. However, these three are doing much more than inspiring young competitive athletes on the water, track or roads. They play a vital role in creating opportunities and capacity within the Canadian sport system and supporting recreation and community health.

John Halvorsen (Oly - Norway, Track 10,000m), Video Still By Vince Harttrup

John Halvorsen is a former Norwegian long-distance runner, founder, and former Race Director of the Ottawa Race Weekend, now known as Run Ottawa. (Run Ottawa is a non-profit organization that aims to promote physical activity and healthy living in the Ottawa area through running events and programs.) John established Run Ottawa and helped to build it into one of the largest running events in Canada. Under his leadership, the Ottawa Race Weekend grew to include various events, including the Ottawa Marathon, which is now one of the largest marathons in Canada. In addition, while with Run Ottawa, John played a significant founding role in the creation of the Canada Army Run. His passion for running and commitment to promoting physical activity helped inspire many people to get involved in running. His legacy continues to be felt through Run Ottawa’s ongoing efforts to promote health and wellness in the community.

John is also a long-time volunteer in the cross-country ski community. In addition, he is a board member of the local events organization and a sought wax tech.

Adam Van Koeverdon (Oly - Canada, Kayak - flatwater) (Member of Parliament, Milton, ON and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and to the Minister of Sport), Video Still By Vince Harttrup

While John’s work was at a local and a specific sport community, Adam van Koeverden is a Parliamentarian and works with policy to create more recreation and sports capacity. Adam is a strong advocate for health and physical activity and continues to inspire and motivate others to lead an active and healthy lifestyle. He competed internationally as a member of the Canadian Canoe Kayak team and was the Team Canada Flag Bearer for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Adam is the Member of Parliament for Milton and is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and to the Minister of Sport. He uses his platform to raise awareness about the benefits of an active lifestyle and to encourage others to make healthy choices. These opportunities include public speaking, social media and community involvement. “The House” is currently in-session, and Adam passionately advocates for improved facilities, protection of outdoor recreational spaces and access to recreation and sport for Canadians.

Dylan Wykes (Oly - Canada, Marathon) (Founder and Director Mile2Marathon), Video Still By Vince Harttrup

Dylan Wykes represented Team Canada in the Marathon at the World Championships in Berlin-2009 and the Olympic Games in London-2012. While still training and competing, Dylan started coaching and formed a personal coaching service with a friend and running teammate, Mike Woods. (Mike is currently a professional cyclist.) Their coaching business, Mile2Marathon (M2M), has grown across Canada, with groups now in five Canadian cities and personal coaching offered virtually to runners in any community. It is inspiring runners in many Canadian cities. Runners wearing M2M race singlets are now present at many road and track races across Canada. Some of these athletes competed in running as youth; however, others have taken to running training as adults - like Dylan, Adam, and John have found a winter sport and are Keeping Active!

M2M Program Philosophy

“People have the most success when consistency in their training isn’t a chore but a source of pleasure, and we believe that consistency in training becomes fun when you have access to two things: great coaching and great communities.”

John is keeping active! Video Still By Vince Harttrup

It is always fun to bring together a group of active, passionate athletes as there are always smiles and fun but also learning. Adam, Dylan, John and our small group, including Emily, Brandon, Hannah and myself, enjoyed a beautiful snowy winter morning. Canadian Wintersports and The First Lap like Mile2Marathon, “through great coaching and a great community,” we want to “Inspire and support enjoyable and regular physical activity and sports experiences for elevated individual well-being and community health” (From The First Lap Mission Statement HERE).

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