Marc Gagnon with arms raised on podiumCP Photo/COC/Andre Forget
CP Photo/COC/Andre Forget

Where are they now? Marc Gagnon

In this “Where are they now?” series, gives you a glimpse at what’s new in the lives of some great Team Canada Olympians since they said goodbye to their careers as athletes. 

Marc Gagnon is one of Canada’s most decorated Olympians. But since his retirement from short track speed skating, you might be asking, what has he been up to?

When he ended his illustrious career in 2002, Gagnon found himself with many opportunities, including business partnerships (with La Cage aux sports and Énergie Cardio) and media appearances.

The five-time Olympic medallist was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 2007 and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2008. He had an arena named after him in his hometown of Chicoutimi and the Centre Marc Gagnon is now a regional training facility for speed skaters.

Marc Gagnon signs autographs in 2002

Olympic short track speed skating medallist Marc Gagnon signs autographs following a tribute to Canadian Olympic and Paralympic medallists at the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Que. Monday, April 15, 2002.(CP PHOTO/Jonathan Hayward)

Gagnon followed elder brother Sylvain, who won a 5000m relay silver at Albertville 1992, into skating and onto Olympic ice when he made his debut at Lillehammer 1994. Now 45, he continues to inspire the next generation of Canadian short track speed skaters.

Read more about Marc Gagnon’s accomplishments

After his retirement, Gagnon stayed away from the ice for eight years until he finally decided to return to his roots. It was thanks to Jonathan Guilmette, an Olympic medallist with whom he shared the podium at Salt Lake City 2002, that he began his career as a coach in 2010.

Today he has a positive and important influence on the future of speed skating. Starting in 2014, he became the head coach of the Short Track Speed Skating Canadian Regional Training Centre at the Maurice-Richard Arena in Montreal where he worked with the best athletes from Quebec and Eastern Canada as they aimed to become part of the national team.

Two speed skaters celebrate with arms up

Canada’s Marc Gagnon (left) and Jonathan Guilmette celebrate their gold and silver wins respectively in the 500 metre short track speed skating final, at the XIX Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, Saturday Feb. 23, 2002. (CP PHOTO/Tom Hanson)

“Coaching these young athletes is not something new for me as I have been with them since now for four years,” Gagnon said when he became head coach. “In my eyes, this position is very important to keep short track speed skating healthy in the country as we are developing those who will be on the National Teams in the upcoming years.

With my experience as an athlete, my training and mostly the last years working with Jonathan especially, I’m ready for this challenge. Personally, I want to give the maximum attention to them in terms of technical and mental aspects of skating to best help them get ready for competitions. I also want to share my passion for the sport with a training program that will help them develop as much as possible.”

Marc Gagnon coaching skater

Marc Gagnon of Team Canada advises one of his short track speed skating athletes as a coach at the Canadian Regional Training Centre. (Photo: Ben Pelosse / Journal de Montréal)

One of his great coaching moves? He recruited Marianne St-Gelais to his team as an assistant coach.

“I really enjoy what I do. When I wake up at five in the morning to go to work, it doesn’t feel like a burden,” Gagnon told Le Journal de Montreal.

On January 12, 2021, Speed Skating Canada announced that Gagnon would join the national short track program as an Assistant Coach, where he will guide athletes who have their eyes on podium performances at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

“I’m really excited to be reuniting with many of my former athletes and to help continue their development all the way to the Olympic Games,” said Gagnon. “I’m looking forward to collaborating with one of the world’s greatest short track coaches, Sébastien Cros. Sébastien and I share the same ideas and to support him in his vision of developing the key skills needed for international success motivates me enormously. As I have been saying since my early days as a coach, I am dedicated to giving young people the tools necessary so that they too have the chance to achieve their dreams.”