Freedom for life: From a small town to the world stage

#Team Freedom

Brittany Hudak - It's all in the plan

I’ve always been a super competitive person. I participated in all kinds of sports growing up, including track and field, but I never really saw myself making sports a profession, despite my wildest dreams.

My pathway to competitive skiing didn’t start until I was 18 years old – what you might consider a very late bloomer. I was working in a Canadian Tire store where I ended up having a conversation with Colette Bourgonje. You may know her as one of the most successful Paralympic athletes of all time. She’s the one who pushed me into the sport and has served as an amazing mentor to me since the day we have met. It’s something I always look back on and think, what were the odds?

Having a good team with strong team dynamics helps a lot during training camps and competitions. It's important for everyone to know each other well enough that we can all work together on race days. We support each other as we train and know we’re there for each other. I'm fortunate that some of my team members have been doing this sport much longer than me, so I can learn a lot from them. They are always open to providing me with tips and helping me become a better skier.

It's motivating for me to see their success on the team. If you have a team that works well together and there is mutual respect, you can help build each other up to have solid performances on race day. When someone on the team has a good race, it helps motivate everyone else and often times success breeds success.

Of course, it's not just other athletes on the team that can influence my performance. Our ski coach, wax technicians, and sport psychologists also make a huge impact.

If I had to pick one person who I would describe as “my rock” it would be my dad. This is because he’s been so supportive and creative with all aspects of my life. As a kid I never liked wearing prosthetics. Even to this day, I don’t enjoy it, but he would try to create things that I could use instead of a prosthetic. For example, he made an attachment that we could put on my fishing rod so that I could put my left elbow in the reel. He is always willing to go the extra mile to ensure I'm happy. When I go back to Saskatchewan to visit my family and friends, there isn't an official biathlon range where I can practice my usual shooting routine. My dad has made homemade targets for me and takes me farther out of town to shoot instead. He will come up with little challenges for me when I'm shooting and tries to make sure I still get a good training in. I always feel he has my best interest at heart and I feel so thankful that he takes so much time and energy make things easier for me.

My parents are nothing but supportive. They stood behind me when I decided to pursue sport at the highest level and put my university classes on the back burner. Although, I'm still taking classes while I train, they have never told me to 'get a real job' or ‘finish your schooling first’. The fact that they trust my decisions and support me with sport and school makes my job so much easier.

Having a solid support system has a huge impact on how you develop as an athlete. I'm fortunate to say that my support system has helped further my career and kept me going when times got tough. I know that I can be hard on myself when I'm trying to improve, but my support system is always there for me and helps me keep things in perspective.

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