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Solid Hungarian Canadian connection possible at 2010 Winter Olympics

 

The Janyk family of Whistler, B.C. promises to give the 2010 Winter Olympics in British Columbia a strong Hungarian Canadian connection.

 

Their story spans three generations dating back to the 1930s and 1940s in Hungary.

Britt and Michael, Janyk, the 27 and 25-year-old children of Bill and Andree Janyk of Whistler, B.C., are being touted as potential members of the Canadian Olympic alpine ski team.

 

Their grandfather, the late Peter Vajda (Andree’s father), a civil engineer by training and a passionate skier, ski coach, and mountain guide, was part of the original bid to bring the Games to Whistler in 1968. He pushed for the Games again in 1976.

 

Mr. Vajda, a Hungarian immigrant missed going to the Olympics himself as a coach only because the Second World War broke out and the Games were cancelled in both 1940 and 1944.

Andree Janyk had that same passion and made it to the Canadian national level as a young skier.

In 2010, Andree hopes her two children will compete in the Olympic Alpine ski events at Whistler.

"The potential for my children to be on this hill, a dream of my father's, brings the most amazing feelings. It gives me goose bumps," said Andree Janyk, whose family is carrying an Olympic torch sparked by Mr. Vajda, who saw his dream of the 2010 Games coming to B.C. come to fruition before he passed away.

 

"When we did win the bid finally [in 2003] my dad was 92-years-old. It was his biggest dream and by then he knew too that Michael and Britt were on the ski team and he smiled at me and said, 'Your kids will do well. They will do well. My grandchildren will be there.' He died six months later.’’

Britt and Michael, 25, now race on the World Cup circuit. Britt won a World Cup title in Aspen in December.

 

The ski slopes at Whistler and Blackcomb are the Janyks' home turf. The whole family moved from West Vancouver to Whistler in 1995 so that the kids could pursue their skiing.

 

Ms. Janyk credits the success of her dynamic duo to commitment, drive, passion and a supportive environment. The years of gymnastics, soccer, baseball and tennis likely didn't hurt either.

"If you focus on the end result you will never be rewarded," she said. "It is all the little things you need to do to be successful. So for tennis is was stroke for stoke, ball for ball and in skiing it is gate for gate, turn for turn."

 

That's a lesson that reaches back through the Janyks' history, whether it was her father taking her to Europe as a teenager to buy the first lifts for Grouse Mountain, her great success as a racer, the year-over-year push to bring the Games to Whistler, or the life-long coaching of Britt and Michael.

"Every step counts in some way," said Ms. Janyk. "I saw that with my father. I think he knew in his heart that he had done something for Canadian skiing, but he had also done something amazing for his family by bringing his Olympic dream from him all the way to his grandchildren.

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