by John Austen
Olympic glory touched Concordia last week when no fewer than four former
Stinger hockey players suited up for the womens gold-medal game
at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Thérèse Brisson
and Caroline Ouellette played for Team Canada, while Cammi Granato and
Karen Bye were members of Team U.S.A.
Brisson and Ouellette won gold, while Granato and Bye had to settle for
silver, as Canada upset the Americans 3-2 in a thrilling final game. I
remember seeing all those girls play for the Stingers in years past,
said Stinger fan Arthur Ross, 68, of Montreal West. They were all
great, especially Granato. Shes probably the best female hockey
player Ive ever seen.
While mens and womens hockey triumphs grabbed the headlines
this past week, it was a young bobsledder from Montreal that had veteran
athletes crowing. About seven months ago, Canadian bobsled pilot Yannick
Morin walked into Pro-Gym on Hochelaga St. E. in Montreal and asked the
owner if he knew of anyone who was both strong and fast, and might want
to try something a little different. All fingers pointed to Giulio Zardo,
a 21-year-old Concordia student who lived at the gym.
The something different was a chance to become a member of
the national bobsled team. Zardo decided to give it a go, and seven months
later came within a hair of winning an Olympic medal in Salt Lake City.
Zardo was a part of Canada Is two-man bobsled team that finished
in fifth place, nine one-hundredths of a second out of third spot. The
pilot of the team was veteran Pierre Lueders, the gold-medal winner in
the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan.
In the next four years [Zardo] is going to take the sport by storm,
for sure, Lueders told a media scrum following the final race. Its
really up to him. From what Ive seen so far, hes a fantastic
athlete, a fantastic kid! Man, some of the things he can do in the weight
room, and [his speed and quickness] when pushing. And I mean, here, coming
in front of all these people and trying to perform Wow, I wish
I could hold it together as well as he does.
The two keys to a successful bob run are a fast push time and then, once
in the sled, a clean ride reaching speeds of more than 130 km/h.
The six-foot-one, 235-pound Zardo can press 450 pounds and can squat 680
pounds. He consumes more than 3,000 calories a day, with his high-protein
diet consisting of lots of tuna and oatmeal.
My wife never stops feeding him when hes home, said
Giulios father Joe Zardo. This whole bobsled thing is incredible.
I was a nervous wreck watching him on TV. Just think, six months ago I
didnt even know what a bobsled was!
After Morin discovered Zardo at Pro-Gym, it wasnt long before word
filtered back to the national team coaches in Calgary and the likes of
Lueders that there was this new phenomenon from Montreal.
He joined Morin on the Canada II team and had success through the World
Cup season. He received an e-mail from Lueders at Christmas asking him
to join him on Canadas number 1 sled. In January, Lueders and Zardo
won gold at the World Cup, posting a track record in Cortina, Italy.
Zardo began developing as an athlete playing football in the powerful
St. Léonard Cougars organizations. He then went to play CEGEP football
with the Champlain-Lennoxville Cougars, where he led his team to a pair
of provincial (Bol dOr) championships. He was also on the Canadian
team that won the Global Junior Championships two years ago in Atlanta,
The linebacker just missed out on a scholarship to the University of Colorado
and decided to enrol at Concordia.
Giulio is a great kid and can do anything he puts his mind to,
said Joe Zardo. Watching him compete at the Olympics has been a
tremendous thrill for our family.
Giulio has a brother, Valentino, and a sister Alessandra, both recent
graduates of Concordia.