NO ONE EVER SEEMS TO get Catriona Le May Doan's name right. When she was blazing around the speed-skating oval at last February's Nagano Olympics, TV announcers and teammates were calling her "Catreena" or "Catri-OH-na." Standing in her Calgary condominium recently, preparing dinner after a day of training, she recalls that even her husband, Bart, a professional steer wrestler, struggled with the pronunciation. "I tried to teach him how to say it at our wedding rehearsal," she says, "and he got so flustered that he gave up trying." For a woman who is so relentless on the ice, she is remarkably easygoing about her mangled name. "There's an extra syllable in there," she explains. "It's Ca-TREE-uh-na."
Canadians ought to know how to address their new queen of winter sports. Last season, Le May Doan won a world championship, a World Cup title and set a new world record for 500 m. And along with a 1,000-m bronze medal, the 27-year-old Saskatoon native lit up the Olympics with her emotional victory over her teammate and friend, Susan Auch of Winnipeg, in a thrilling gold-silver 500-m final. Now, she is back at work, preparing for a new season and another four-year Olympic cycle, only without the now-retired Auch. "I miss Susan," she says. "It was great to have her to train with because our speeds were so similar."
Le May Doan hasn't exactly become a household face since Nagano, although there's now a Saskatoon street in her name. And much has been made about how few endorsements she has gained. "It is a bit frustrating when you are only making enough to just get by," she says. But some of that stems from her own priorities. She had several big races right after the Olympics, and by the time the season was over, she admits, "I was just fried." After training each day, she would get home at night to dozens of phone messages asking to be returned. So when she was offered a lucrative deal to shoot a commercial with an automaker at a time that conflicted with her planned holiday in Scotland with Bart, she turned it down. "People say I was crazy to say no," she says, "but I could not have gone away any later. I don't care how much money it would have paid, it just wasn't worth it."
So, instead, it was off to her ancestral home for several weeks of visiting family, drinking ales, eating fish and chips and playing golf. She got into that game three years ago at a charity tournament, and now threatens to break 90. The secret of her rapid improvement is her approach to life in general. "I'm a perfectionist, and very stubborn," she
'If I'm going to do something, I want to do it well'
says. "So if I'm going to do something, I want to do it well." Isn't golf impossible to perfect? "Maybe, but I'm going to try bloody hard."
Both she and Bart, 31, are keen to have kids (likely after the 2002 Games), but she doubts they will give them Scottish names. As for her own name, Le May Doan says there is an explanation. Her father, an engineer, and her mother, a teacher, moved from near Glasgow in 1963 when he accepted
what was to be a temporary position at the University of Saskatchewan. All three daughters were born in Saskatoon and were given their names—Fiona, Ailsa and Catriona—because back then, Le May Doan says, "My parents always thought they would be going back to Scotland." They never did, of course, and Canada is better for it.
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