Ask Barrett Martineau when he decided to become an Olympic athlete and he will tell you it all started with ski jumping.
A seven-year-old Martineau and his mum were driving by the Canada Olympic Park in Calgary. They passed the big ski jumping tower, emblazed with the Olympic rings.
“I didn’t know what the Olympics was so I asked and yeah, from right on then I knew that I wanted to pursue that Olympic dream,” he says.
“ ‘I basically just said, ‘I’m going to do that one day,’ and she’s like, ‘you’re not,” Martineau smiles. He set out to prove his mum wrong and began with ski jumping the next summer.
“When I got into it, she just told me to hold on to my dreams and never let them go and whatever it takes to achieve that dream go for it,” he says. At the ski jumping competitions at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, 18-year-old Martineau was a forerunner. After the games, he retired.
But Martineau’s Olympic journey didn’t end there. Instead, he discovered another cool sport, where he could draw on his ski jumping experience.
“That’s why I believe that I have experienced a little bit of success in skeleton, ski jumping taught me mental capabilities, how to deal with stress and how to go to high-level competitions,” he says over the phone from Winterberg, Germany.
Martineau is there to compete at the FIBT Junior World Championships, where he placed third last year. In 2013, he also won the FIBT North American Cup.
Both his parents and Canadian ski jumping coach Jindro Mayer have been pivotal in helping him pursue that Olympic dream.
“He was the best coach I ever had, he was kind of like a father to me for sure,” Martineau says of Mayer. “He taught me how to be a good athlete and just maintain focus and always try my best and do a 100 per cent and never give up on yourself. He was big on that.” But in December 2004, Mayer passed away in a car accident. “Lots of what I do today is dedicated to him, he was probably the biggest influence I ever had in my life when it comes to sports and how to live a good life,” Martineau reflects. His goal is to win gold at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. To get there, he juggles training with university studies and his job as a ski jumping coach. After the Junior World Championships, Martineau will take a week off to catch up in school. He is currently taking his bachelor’s degree in business administration at the Mount Royal University in Calgary. And then there’s the training, of course. “Training becomes different but the second this race is over, it’s starting the training for the new season that starts in October so it’ll be less volume but the season ends and you just kind of jump right back into it,” he says.
Martineau still trains at the Canada Olympic Park.
“I’ve been going there every single day that I’ve been home since I was 7,” he says. There will be a few more days en route to the 2018 Winter Games.