Sex at Sochi? Performing on your period? Canada’s top Olympic talent gets personal

Olympics 2014 Canada

Interviews by Jacquelyn Francis and Jessica Flower

Get all the Olympic gossip »

Maybe this is just us, but when watching the Olympics our minds tend to wander. Can athletes wear anything underneath the tight spandex? How do figure skaters get all that heavy-duty makeup off? And what happens if you get your period the day you’re competing?

In anticipation of the 2014 Winter Games at Sochi, we sat down with some of our favourite female Olympians, both current and former, and got the inside scoop on everything they don’t normally get to share. From whether or not sex before the big day helps you win to what country produces the hottest athletes (yeah, we went there!) they were more than happy to get personal. Read on for all the answers to our awkward questions, and consider memorizing a few: They’ll make for excellent conversation starters over the next few weeks of Olympic excitement.

Jump to: JENNIFER BOTTERILL | ROSALIND GROENEWOUD | CLARA HUGHES | KAILLIE HUMPHRIES | REBECCA JOHNSTON | ASHLEIGH MCIVOR | SPENCER O’BRIEN | MAËLLE RICKER | MARIELLE THOMPSON | TESSA VIRTUE |


Olympics 2014 Canada

Rosalind Groenewoud
Age: 24
Hometown: Calgary
Freestyle skiing
Member of the Canadian Halfpipe Team
Sponsors: P&G, Target, Spyder Clothes, Kombi Gloves

What was the worst or most awkward time you’ve ever had to do a random drug test?
I’ve definitely had a few awkward ones. One time was on Mother’s Day when I was in high school and the doorbell rang and a random drug-testing woman was there. Because I’d just got out of the shower, I was just wearing a housecoat and was completely naked underneath. She went into the bathroom with me to make sure I wasn’t cheating. I pretty much had to undo my robe and just stand there completely naked in front of her and pee, and I was like, ‘This is not how I wanted to spend Mother’s Day.’

How hard is it to stick to your diet?
I don’t really limit much at all. I’ve always grown up eating really healthy, it’s always been big [in] my family. I don’t eat a lot of fried food or heavy cream sauces, but in general I eat to make myself feel as capable as possible.

Do you have a tattoo?
Two. The tattoo on my ribs looks like a rose, but it’s designed mathematically. I love math, and I spent many years designing it and finding a tattoo artist willing to work within all my mathematical constraints. Most things are done in proportion to the golden ratio, and some of the leaves aren’t actually leaves, they’re Möbius strips.

Do you wear makeup while competing?
I’ll be at the top and grab someone’s reflective goggles and put on my red Cover Girl lipstick. It’s the idea that femininity and strength aren’t mutually exclusive.

Some athletes’ moms are being brought to Sochi by sponsor P&G—is that a lot of pressure?
My mom hasn’t always travelled with me—my whole life she has pushed me to be independent. I’m really excited to see her after I compete.


Olympics 2014 Canada

Kaillie Humphries
Age: 28
Hometown: Calgary
Bobsleigh
Gold medallist at the Vancouver 2010 Games
Sponsors: P&G, BMW, SportChek, Adidas, Oakley, Total

What country has the best-looking athletes?
The Americans and the Germans. Both teams have big, strong men that are independent, strong-willed, funny gentlemen.

Are you a better athlete when you’re in love, or does it take you off your game?
Love just makes you a better person. Regardless of being an athlete or not, when you are in love, you live for someone else. However, I can’t let it affect my game.

What was the worst or most awkward time you’ve ever had to do a random drug test?
I had just started seeing this guy who had travelled a long way to see me for a weekend. We were at my parents’ house for the first time when there was a random knock on the door. Needless to say, I sat in the living room for two hours with random strangers while waiting to pee, and he was alone with my parents in a different room after just meeting them.”

Do you have a tattoo?
Many. The ones I cherish most are the portraits of my parents. They’re both on my right forearm. I chose to put them there to always be reminded of their love and support.

Is it hard to compete during your period?
We are conditioned to perform under stress; that’s why we train. Do we plan so that each competition is perfect? Yes, but in reality things come up every time. I had to compete in Vancouver while on my period. It didn’t stop me, but I didn’t particularly feel the sexiest in the tight one-piece spandex suit.

Do you abstain from sex before competition?
Heck, no. Studies have shown there is an increase in testosterone, as well as many other positive responses within the body when we have sex, so the night before is healthy and high-performance-based.

Have you ever dated someone you met while competing?
Yes. I was married to a guy who competed for Canada. Unfortunately, competition and the amount of time and energy spent apart (but also together, because we trained, slept, ate, did everything within the same group) got the better of us. It’s hard when you have two people competing within the same sport.

Some athletes’ moms are being brought to Sochi by sponsor P&G—is that a lot of pressure?
I’m ecstatic. I hope she enjoys every moment because she was a big part of my success.


Olympics 2014 Canada
Photography by by Jeff Vinnick

Rebecca Johnston
Age: 24
Hometown: Sudbury, Ont.
Ice hockey (Canada Women’s National Ice Hockey Team)
Gold medallist at the Vancouver 2010 Games

To be an Olympian requires such discipline, but there has to be something you don’t like about your physical regimen…
I love playing hockey, but what goes along with the routine is a lengthy warm-up and cool-down. I find it monotonous at times.

Are you a better athlete when you’re in love, or does it take you off your game?
Being in love helps me perform better on the ice. Being happy and having support from a loved one makes me feel cheery and puts me in a good mood.

Is it hard to compete during your period?
I would never notice enough that it affects my play on the ice.

Have you ever dated someone you met while competing?
I dated a guy I met at university on the men’s hockey team. It was valuable in our relationship to have that common interest and similar competitive personalities.


Olympics 2014 Canada
Photography by Canadian Olympic Committee/Sven Boecker

Spencer O’Brien
Age: 25
Hometown: Courtenay, B.C.
Slopestyle Snowboarding
Sponsors: Nike, Rockstar Energy, APO Snow, Clast, Nixon, Whistler/Blackcomb

To be an Olympian requires such discipline, but there has to be something you don’t like about your physical regimen…
Cardio. I do a sport where my max run time is 40 seconds. I am not an endurance athlete.

What country has the best-looking athletes?
Norway. I have no idea what’s in the water up there, but it’s doing good things.

Are you a better athlete when you’re in love, or does it take you off your game?
There are pros and cons to it. I was in a serious relationship for the better part of my professional career. He was such a pillar of support for me, but at the same time it is so hard to be away from someone you love when you’re on the road.

Have you ever dated someone you met while competing?
I’ve never even dated a snowboarder.

How hard is it to stick to your diet?
I love to bake, but it’s hard to bake just one cookie or one cupcake. If I do bake, I make sure I’m doing it for someone else. I love tiramisu and make a really good one.

Do you abstain from sex before competition?
I try and get a good night’s sleep.


Olympics 2014 Canada

Maëlle Ricker
Age: 35
Hometown: North Vancouver
Snowboard Cross
Gold medallist at the Vancouver 2010 Games
Sponsors: P&G, Canada~Snowboard, Sportchek/Adidas, Oakley, Whistler/Blackcomb, Oxess Snowboards, Bell Canada

To be an Olympian requires such discipline, but there has to be something you don’t like about your physical regimen…
Stretching. I know it’s one of the most important parts of our training regime, and I feel so much better afterward.

Are you a better athlete when you’re in love, or does it take you off your game?
It doesn’t affect me either way. It shouldn’t anyway.

What was the worst or most awkward time you’ve ever had to do a random drug test?
I always seem to go to the bathroom right before the testers show up. It’s just Murphy’s Law in full force. I feel badly for the testers because they have to wait around for so long until I can give a sample.


Olympics 2014 Canada
Photography by Canadian Olympic Committee/Sven Boecker

Marielle Thompson
Age: 21
Hometown: North Vancouver
Ski Cross
Sponsors: PI Financial, Stoeckli, Uvex, Dalbello, Leki

To be an Olympian requires such discipline, but there has to be something you don’t like about your physical regimen…
Core. Your muscles burn the whole time, and you don’t get any rest.

Are you a better athlete when you’re in love, or does it take you off your game?
When I’m racing, my sole focus is to get down the course faster than the other three girls.

What was the worst or most awkward time you’ve ever had to do a random drug test?
Drug tests are always awkward, but my most awkward was at the World Junior Championships at the end of last season. It was in Italy and the ski resort didn’t have toilets, just holes in the bathroom floor, so I was in my ski boots having to stand over a hole and pee in a cup. Afterward, the drug test facilitator said ‘Bravo!’ in congratulations, as if this encounter couldn’t get more awkward.

Is it hard to compete during your period?
It’s certainly annoying, but when I’m skiing it’s not something I think about.


Olympics 2014 Canada
Photography courtesy P&G

Tessa Virtue
Age: 24
Hometown: London
Ice Dance
Gold medallist at the Vancouver 2010 Games
Sponsors: RBC, P&G

What makeup remover do you use for the heavy performance makeup?
I usually use the Olay Sensitive Wet Cloths – they take everything right off and they’re so handy when I’m traveling. I always keep an extra pack of the wet cloths in my skate bag, as Scott loves them too and frequently steals mine!

What is your nighttime beauty routine?  
I am quite diligent about never going to sleep with makeup on, as nothing feels worse! I wash my face with warm water and moisturize daily using Olay Regenerist Microsculpting Cream. I love how creamy it is without feeling heavy or greasy!

You have great hair, who is your stylist? Where are they? How often do you
wash your hair and trim it?

I try to wash my hair every other day. It’s important for me to stick to a moisturizing hair care routine—mine involves the Pantene Daily Moisture Renewal collection because I find that it not only hydrates my hair but also helps to protect it from all the heat styling damage I inflict to it when we’re competing. My stylist is Rob Laporte in London, Ontario. He did my very first haircut when I was little and I’ve never used another hairdresser! I trim my hair every three months or so to make sure the ends are fresh.

Do you like your hair long or is easier to maintain when competing than say a shorter haircut?
I enjoy having long hair for the sheer practicality of it – when we’re training, I wear a topknot almost every single day! It also allows for more versatility when we’re competing, as different programs call for different hairstyles and I try to experiment with different looks.

What was your last big fashion purchase? Any designers or lines you really like right now?
I bought a Yigal Azrouël dress, which was a bit of a splurge. I absolutely love his line right now—and the fit is amazing! My go-to designer would probably be Helmut Lang, as he has such amazing classic pieces that work with any outfit.

You’ve been compared to Katy Perry, what do you think of that?
I’m really flattered to be compared to Katy! Seeing her test out different hair colours makes it easy for me—I have a pretty good idea what I’d look like with blue hair, thanks to her!


Olympics 2014 Canada
Photography by Malina Corpadean

Clara Hughes
Age: 41
Hometown: Winnipeg
Long Track Speed Skating & Cycling
Two time bronze medallist in 1996 in Cycling, Bronze medal in 2002 in Speed skating, Silver medal in 2006 in Speed skating, Gold medal in 2006 in Speed skating and Bronze medal in 2010 at the Vancouver 2010 Games

When you were competing did you ever take in to consideration how you looked on camera?
When I was competing, no. Because I almost felt like it would jinx me if I made myself up before my race. I looked pretty much like a dirt bag whenever I finished my races, and I was okay with that! But you know, outside of sport, when I had the chance to have a bit of time to get ready for the podium or something, I always did.

Do you do a lot of shopping?
I do, yeah! I do a lot of business work and I’m in the public eye, so it’s pretty fun to play with clothes and designers—I try to find some nice Canadian designers. My favourite is Marie Saint Pierre, out of Montreal. She makes such beautiful clothing, I’ll be wearing a lot of her items in Sochi.

You wear a lot of spandex when you’re competing. Do you have any tricks that you’ve picked up along the way for a comfortable and confident race?
I think my most important tip would be: Ladies, don’t wear your underwear in your cycling shorts. (Laughs) They have a shammy and cycling shorts are not made to have underwear. If you have that, you’re sitting on seams and your butt’s gonna hurt because of that. Kind of a weird one but it’s very practical. (Laughs)

What country has the best-looking athletes?
Well, I mean, Canada! We have some beautiful women on our team. You’re always struck by the Dutch, they’re usually these tall, beautiful women and the Swedish women are always beautiful. I think there’s beautiful women everywhere, you know. I like it when female athletes aren’t afraid to show their feminine side and celebrate it.


Olympics 2014 Canada
Photography by David Leyes

Jennifer Botterill
Age: 34
Hometown: Winnipeg
Hockey
3-time Olympic Gold Medallist (Salt Lake City, Torino and Vancouver), Silver medal in 1998 in Nagano

Are there any workout clothes that you can’t live without?
For us, underneath our actual hockey gear, it would be spandex shorts. And I mean, sport bras are just key for us. It was a big part of what we [would] wear. Shorts and three-quarter length tights—that’s what we loved and spent so much time training in, so that what’s we felt comfortable and strong in.

What country has the best-looking athletes?
That is a good question! The Australians are usually pretty strong in that department. The accent—maybe that’s what that is. The Canadian team, I think also has some very good-looking athletes.

You have played in a male-dominated sport. Do you find that there are double standards in terms of the expectations for women to look good?
I feel like maybe it’s a little more in our nature, I think we want to portray a strong, nice image for [the] sport. We still understand our priority is to be our best as an athlete, but in certain settings, absolutely, we take the time to convey a good image. But it all varies. In the locker room we would jest about being high maintenance, in how much time it takes to get ready, but we’re all unique.

Do you find it hard to compete while on your period?
Everyone’s different on this, but personally, I felt good with it and honestly sometimes I felt better to tell you the truth.


Olympics 2014 Canada

Ashleigh McIvor
Age: 30
Hometown: Whistler
Skicross
Gold medallist at the Vancouver 2010 Games

When you’re on the slopes do you ever scope out other people’s outfits?
Oh, for sure. It’s funny, you really judge somebody on their outfit, especially on the ski hill. A lot of the time you can tell a person skis once every ten years because their jacket is like, ten years old. Then, of course, there are the people who have gone out and bought all brand new gear and can’t ski to save their life.

Have you had an awkward drug testing experience?
I guess the most awkward was my first. I was in Switzerland in 2004, and it took a really long time. They quarantined the winners, we were way up on this glacier in the middle of nowhere, and the woman actually like got down to eye level with me. Her face was like two feet from me, eye level, following me down as I peed in this cup. It was really weird.

Do you have any before race hair or beauty routines?
Actually, there is one beauty ritual. It’s really bad. I don’t know if I should say it. I used to shave my legs just in case I got hurt. So I wouldn’t be like in the hospital with a broken leg and super hairy.

Some of the athlete’s moms are being brought to Sochi through P&G sponsorship—is that a lot of pressure?
No, not at all! Having my family at the Olympics in Vancouver was amazing. After qualifications, I went up into the grandstands and said hi to all my friends and family members and thanked them for coming—it was my only opportunity to see some of them. My aunt was there, crying, and pretending not to. My mom was totally cool, totally calm. She’s so used to it. She’s seen my triumphs, my injuries. But it helped me at the top of the course, thinking “I just need to go down there and show Aunty Pam that this is what I do and everything’s going to be fine!”

What country do you think has the best looking athletes?
It’s funny, the Swedish team looks awesome as a group from afar but when you pick them out, it’s not quite as good. I think Canada and America has good looking athletes. I mean athletes in general are all pretty attractive. As far as which sport? Soccer players. (Laughs) My husband is a soccer player, so no bias.