After kicking off the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games with a gold medal on Day 1 of competition, Whistler’s Mollie Jepsen bookended the Games with a different kind of achievement.
When the 22-year-old para-alpine skier from West Vancouver walked into the closing ceremony in Beijing on Sunday, March 13, the two-time Paralympian did so carrying the Canadian flag.
Jepsen called the opportunity to serve as flag bearer “an honour of a lifetime.”
“Over the last four years things have been really challenging and coming into these Games I was unsure of where I would stand and how it would go,” she said in a release from the Canadian Paralympic Committee. “I was able to stand on the podium just like in 2018 but to be able to represent all of the athletes who have done so amazing here and competed their hearts out at the Games feels amazing, and it’s an honour I will cherish for the rest of my life.”
The Whistler Mountain Ski Club alum continued her season-long winning streak to become Canada’s first medallist of the 2022 Paralympic Games when she won gold in the standing downhill event at the Yanqing National Alpine Centre on March 4.
She followed that up with a silver-medal win in the standing giant slalom event on March 10.
“I don’t know if it’s fully set in that I have two medals yet,” Jepsen said in an Alpine Canada release following her silver. “I had high expectations and goals going into this event. I’ve been mostly focused on giant slalom, super G and downhill the last few years so I’m glad I was able to showcase that versatility.”
Jepsen’s pair of podiums in Beijing come following the four medals she won during her Paralympic debut in PyeongChang four years ago: one gold, one silver, and two bronze.
Para-Nordic sit skier Ethan Hess was also representing the Sea to Sky corridor in Beijing last week, competing in his second Paralympic Games. The 22-year-old Pemberton local finished 18th in the long-distance cross-country event and 26th in the men’s sprint cross-country race.
Other highlights for Canada in Beijing included retiring Paralympian Brian McKeever’s three gold medals in his final Games, resulting in a total of 20 career Paralympic medals for the legendary cross-country skier.
Vancouver Island-based snowboarder Tyler Turner, 33, also won two medals in his debut Paralympic Games—a gold in snowboard cross and bronze in banked slalom—while Jepsen’s Alpine Canada teammate Mac Marcoux skied to a silver-medal finish in the men’s standing downhill alongside guide Tristan Rodgers.
In total, Team Canada finished the Paralympic Games with eight gold medals, six silver and 11 bronze, for an overall medal haul of 25, won by 37 athletes. That put Canada third in the standings, behind China and Ukraine. It marked Canada’s second-best Paralympic Winter Games, after setting the record with its 28 medals won in PyeongChang four years ago.
In a release, Beijing 2022 Canadian Paralympic Team chef de mission Josh Dueck said he was “thrilled” for each of the 48 athletes that competed for Canada over the nine-day period.
“This team has displayed so much heart, resiliency, and passion and it has been an honour to have the opportunity to witness so many incredible athletes compete and show off all the dedication and hard work they have put in to be the best at what they do,” Dueck added. “There is so much to celebrate for the entire Canadian Paralympic Team, from every podium performance to the personal bests to so many moments in between that have all combined to elevate, motivate, and unite Canadians and Paralympic sport.”