Kyle Parrott’s dream of competing in the Sochi Olympics ended before he even had a chance to make the national speedskating team that represented Canada.
The 28-year-old Minnedosa native, who now lives in Calgary, was involved in a collision with a vehicle while cycling to practise at the Olympic Oval a couple of months before the national team qualifying event. He suffered a serious concussion and couldn’t recover before the event.
The collision was so bad that Parrott, who participated in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games in 500-metre, 1,000m and 1,500m speedskating events, doesn’t even remember it.
Parrott didn’t regain his senses until he was walking his bike in the alley leading into the back of his home. The former member of the Westman Speed Skating Club realized that his helmet was broken and pieced together that he must have hit his head. From there, he called a doctor to get an assessment and was told to take time off from training.
"Basically I was at home for the first few days and didn’t do anything at all," he said. "I basically just laid in bed and ate and slept and didn’t do anything.
"After four or five days, I was able to get up and move around and do stuff, but I was slow. Cognitively, I wasn’t quick. The doctor told me I had to take a month off training and that put me just a few weeks out from the Olympic trials.
"A couple weeks before the trials I tried to do some training. I could do easy training, but I couldn’t go maximum effort or else I’d start getting headaches, so the decision was made I wouldn’t try out for the Olympics."
Parrott felt his training was going well and that he had a chance to make the Olympic team. He knows his results would have depended upon how he would have performed in the trials as well as the other skaters.
The news that his dream was over before he could try out wasn’t easy for Parrott to take, considering he had spent the last three years trying to get back to the Olympics. However, the way things happened left him with no regrets as it was an accident that ended his dream, as opposed to him questioning his training regimen.
"Any time you have a goal and you’re working hard to accomplish that goal and something gets in the way of being able to achieve it, it’s obviously a disappointment," he said. "But I put everything I had into trying to make the Olympics, so it doesn’t make me feel like I’m disappointed in myself or I didn’t do everything I could have.
"This is out of my control and there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s not like I sit at home every day and beat myself up over why didn’t I try harder or do those things I could have done? It was out of my control."
It hasn’t taken Parrott long to move on with his life. He’s currently registered in two classes at the University of Calgary so he can work toward his engineering degree. This semester is a test to see if Parrott can get used to life as a full-time student.
Parrott and his wife, Judi, are also expecting their first child in a couple of weeks, which is bringing more of a focus on family life. The couple hoped to have their first baby between the Olympics and the beginning of the next school year, which has Parrott feeling his life in the last year is going as planned, with the exception of missing the Games.
With so much happening right now, Parrott is considering hanging up his skates for good. He knows he won’t be competing for the rest of this season, since there are only a few weeks left.
Parrott plans to focus on his studies and family and not try to make the 2018 Olympics team. But he also planned to take the 2011 season off, before getting the itch to skate again after seeing his teammates resume their training. That’s why he won’t fully rule out returning to speedskating at some point.
"It’s unlikely I’ll try again," he said. "I can’t say in the future that I will never do this or do that because things come along. I’ve never done full-time school, so I don’t know about that experience.
"I always take things year by year and if something wasn’t right I wouldn’t do it, and if it did feel right then I would do it. It’s really hard to say for sure I won’t or I will, but at this point it looks like I’d like to finish my degree in engineering and get that side of my life going.
"I’m expecting a baby in just a couple weeks, so that’s a big change. As I can see things collecting in my life with school and other things going on, I doubt I would make another attempt at going to the Olympics, but it’s hard to say."