O’Dine overcomes years of obstacles to reach Beijing 2022 podium
For most people, the past two years haven’t been easy. They’ve been especially difficult for Meryeta O’Dine.
As the pandemic began to shut down the world in March 2020, O’Dine lost her brother, Brandon, to cancer. The Canadian snowboarder had to re-learn how to be an Olympic-level athlete, working with psychologists to help fight anxiety and depression.
O’Dine’s work paid off Wednesday, winning her first Olympic medal, a bronze, in the women’s snowboard cross event at Beijing 2022.
“It feels absolutely insane,” said the 24-year-old. “It feels like so many things have finally come together and they paid off. I always believed that they would pay off and here I am. I guessed right.”
O’Dine maintained third position for the entirety of the big final, holding off Australian Belle Brockhoff. Five-time Olympian Lindsey Jacobellis of the United States won gold while France’s Chloé Trespeuch claimed silver. The experience of the two veteran racers showed, not giving O’Dine any opportunity to pass.
“In the final I wasn’t too sure if there was any kind of strategy there,” O’Dine said. “It was basically being clean and consistent and staying patient for the lines and the opportunities where to pass.
“Racing these two Olympic medallists they know where you are going to be coming for them and they are really hard to get past. I wasn’t able to have that opportunity.”
The Prince George, B.C. native advanced to the big final after winning her semifinal, avoiding a crash from leader Julia Pereira de Sousa Mabileau of France late in the race. Canada’s Tess Critchlow competed in the same semifinal but wasn’t able to secure a spot in the big final. Critchlow finished sixth overall.
This is the second Olympic Games for O’Dine but the first in which she was able to compete. Two days before she was set to take part in the women’s snowboard cross event at PyeongChang 2018, O’Dine crashed in training and suffered a concussion, putting an end to her Olympics.
It’s safe to say Beijing has been a much more positive experience than PyeongChang.
“The Games have been really good. We were here in November and we got a feel for the course. Overall it’s just the same Olympic Games just with a whole bunch of masks,” chuckled O’Dine.
O’Dine only has one FIS World Cup podium finish in her career, which came in 2017. She nearly hit the podium this past December when she finished fourth in a big final event Austria, which was perhaps a sign of things to come.
“I feel great,” O’Dine added. “Honestly I’m so happy to walk out of this event with no broken bones, unscathed and with a medal. I’m shocked.”