Nordic ski team support key to grad’s success

Mark Rajack, a Carleton grad who know skis on the Trinidad and Tobago national ski team, credits his success to the support he’s received from the Ravens nordic ski team. (Chris Roussakis Photo)

When Mark Rajack came to Canada from Trinidad and Tobago as a child, he never thought he would develop a passion for skiing.

“I don’t come from a culture of winter sports,” says the 33-year-old Carleton alumnus. “If you had asked me three years ago if I’d be skiing, I would have said absolutely not. There’s no way I would have imagined this happening.”

Now, members of the Carleton’s Nordic ski team have helped him in his development as a skier on the Trinidad and Tobago National Ski Team – which he will be representing in the 2015 World Ski Championships in Falun, Sweden in mid-February.

“These are all amazingly accomplished athletes, and this is just them doing what they love – and, sharing their world with others and having a positive impact,” Rajack says.

He was first introduced to the world of cross country skiing a few years ago while working for Fresh Air Experience Ottawa – a local shop that specializes in cross-country skis and bicycles.

He developed an interest in the sport and joined XC Ottawa – the city’s premier racing team – where he met members of the Ravens ski team who were also members of the Ottawa’s racing team.

Rajack says Carleton’s Nordic ski team athletes – including Colin Abbott, Andre Marchand, Steffan Lloyd and coach Nic Clifford – have provided a tremendous amount of coaching and training to help him achieve his skiing goals.

Nic Clifford, head coach of Carleton’s nordic skiing team, says Rajack’s enthusiasm for the sport is an inspiration to his fellow athletes.

“Even in the bitter cold, he’s often the most enthusiastic to be out skiing, and it really lifts everyone’s spirits on those tough days,” Clifford says. “He’s a persistent learner, and has a lot of perseverance towards his goals.”

Rajack says skiing has also given him a positive outlook on winter, and has allowed him to embrace a season he wasn’t familiar with in his home country.

“Most people of Caribbean decent like myself have a negative outlook on winter,” he says. “It can have a serious negative impact on your life where you just kind of live for the summer, and bundle up and go into a sad hibernation mode in the winter.”

Rajack says skiing has opened up a whole new world to him in the winter months, and when it’s the summer time, he looks forward to the cold months again.

“Part of being a new Canadian means you have to adapt or find ways to cope with the climate,” he says. “For me, it was cross country skiing. And it’s come to the point now where I can’t live anywhere that doesn’t have snow.”

Rajack’s experience with skiing has been so positive that he has also been working with the Trinidad and Tobago High Commission to develop a roller skiing program for the country’s residents.

“They don’t have to start from scratch,” he says. “They would have a good understanding of the techniques required to ski, and (the program) totally facilitates that transition.”

His next goal is to represent his home country in the 2018 Winter Olympics – a plan he never thought would be possible.

“Carleton was very good to me, and continues to be good to me even though I’m no longer a student there,” Rajack says. “You never know what’s going to happen – the institution you thought you might have left can still have a lasting impact on you years later.”

This entry was written by Kristy Strauss and posted in the issue. Bookmark the permalink or share the following short URL for this article via social media:

Kristy Strauss

By Kristy Strauss

Kristy Strauss graduated from Carleton's journalism program in 2009. She is a regular contributor to Carleton Now. She has worked as a reporter for the Kemptville Advance. She currently reports for EMC Ottawa South.

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