A competitive bond leads Hannah and Jared Schmidt to Olympic ski cross races
Contributor: Ben Steiner
By the time Hannah Schmidt called her parents back home in Ottawa, they already knew that she and her brother Jared had made the Canadian Olympic team. That didn’t make their parent’s reaction any less special though to find out their kids would represent Canada together in Beijing.
“She was crying; she gets very emotional,” said Hannah about her Mom. “It was happy tears; she was so excited. My dad is a man of few words; he gave Jared and I a fist pump and said ‘good job.’”
There are five sets of siblings on the Canadian Olympic team at Beijing 2022, and in ski cross, the Schmidt’s lead the way as one of the few pairs in the same sport. While Broderick and Marielle Thompson join them as sibling pairs on Canada’s ski team, it is a different experience for the Schmidt’s, competing on the same course and at their debut Games.
While growing up in Ottawa, the Schmidt family regularly went to Quebec’s Mont-Tremblant when the two kids were young, eventually joining the ski club and investing their lives in alpine racing.
“My parents both love skiing, and we grew up with that, so I think we've always had that passion for skiing and being outdoors just in general,” said Hannah, who found her way into ski cross much later than many others on the team.
Two siblings, three years apart, with a competitive drive unparalleled in Canadian sport.
Jared, 24, found ski cross first. While in Whistler, BC for a series of alpine races, 2018 Olympic ski cross silver medalist, Britt Phelan sent Jared a text about coming to Sunshine Village, AB to test out ski cross.
“I had no idea what I was doing,” he said of his two weeks with the ski cross program. “I was just kind of flailing around in the courses, but I had a really awesome time and the coaches kind of showed some interest.”
Jared’s chance introduction to ski cross helped forge Hannah’s path too. Jared encouraged her to take on ski cross at the Canadian National Championships in 2018, and since then, she hasn’t looked back.
“I don’t listen to him often, but it was a ton of fun, and I really enjoyed it,” said Hannah, who was still attending Carleton University at the time. “The coaches asked what the plan was for next year; I was still in university, but after that year, I really committed to ski cross, and the rest is history.”
While the two didn’t get into the sport early, their rise has been astronomically quick, with Jared reaching World Cup podiums in Bakuriani, GEO and Arosa, SUI, and Hannah qualifying for the Olympics. Neither expected to qualify for Beijing 2022, the goal was Milan-Cortina 2026, but they a fast tracked that goal. .
“Our grandparents played a big role; they were really involved in sport and kind of pushed us that way,” said Jared. From North Bay, Ontario, the Schmidt grandparents helped nurture a love for sport and competition, qualities that qualified three grandchildren for the Olympics. “We grew up doing all kinds of sports, and I think that benefited in the long run.”
Madeline Schmidt, Hannah and Jared’s cousin, who spent many days in North Bay with the grandparents, made her Olympic debut in Canoe Kayak at Tokyo 2020, and now Hannah and Jared get their chance to take on the Games’ bright lights.
“I think growing up in a competitive family that was so heavily involved in sport helped us,” said Jared. “Like Maddie, we haven’t experienced a ‘normal Olympics,’ so she says just enjoy it as much as you can, and try not to get all wrapped up in the COVID stuff.”
While the Olympics are the sport’s greatest stage, it won’t be a completely foreign experience for the pair. Both raced in the early season World Cup race on the Olympic course, and Hannah can draw on the experience of the FISU World University Games in 2017, where she represented Canada at the world’s second-largest multi-sport competition.
“I think the Olympic Village vibe is going to be very similar; just kind of knowing what to expect might help, said Hannah. “That experience was awesome, and I’m excited. I love representing Canada.”
From sharing summers in North Bay to winters at Mont-Tremblant, the Ottawa-born Schmidt siblings are off to the Olympics together, bringing their tight-knit, yet competitive relationship to the world’s sports spectacle.
While their parents won’t be able to attend the race in China, they will be undoubtedly cheering at home, alongside the rest of Canada, as the Schmidt’s and the rest of Team Canada strive for gold on the other side of the globe.