Armenians around the world will have their attention focused on Beijing over the next three weeks as six Armenian athletes aim to bring home the nation’s first ever medal at the Winter Olympics during the XXIV Olympic Winter Games.
Headlining Team Armenia are Tina Garabedian and Simon Proulx-Senecal, who will participate in the ice dance figure skating event.
Garabedian and Proulx-Senecal’s road to Beijing has been tumultuous. During a qualification event in the spring, the duo was disqualified due to a false positive COVID test despite many improvements in their performance scores over the last several years. They were finally able to qualify at the 2021 CS Nebelhorn Trophy competition in Germany by placing fourth in the event in September.
”It was a roller coaster,” Senecal said at the time. “I think it was just a back to basics reset. We said, ‘Let’s do this, let’s treat ourselves and let’s give ourselves a gift. We’ve been working hard for the last 20 years to make it to the Olympics, so let’s do everything we can to make it happen.’”
“I think we know what we are worth and how much we have done,” Garabedian added. “It was just really amazing to show people and for them to see that progression. I’m glad we had really good performances.”
The ice dance competition begins on February 4.
Also representing Armenia are three cross-country skiers and one alpine skier.
Mikayel Mikayelyan makes his second appearance in cross-country skiing at the Winter Games. He was the flag bearer during the opening ceremonies during the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Meanwhile, Katya Galstyan makes her third appearance in cross-country skiing. Galstyan was the only Armenian woman to represent her country at the 2014 and 2018 Winter Games, but she’ll be joined by first-time Olympian Angelina Muradyan, who will also compete in cross-country skiing.
Harutyun Harutyunyan is the lone competitor for Armenia in alpine skiing.
Armenia has never medaled at the Winter Olympics. Grigory Mkrtychan (1956, USSR) and Vicki Movsessian (1998, USA) are the only two Armenians to have medaled for other nations at the Winter Games. Both were part of gold-medal winning hockey teams in their respective years.
Correction, February 3, 2022: Tina Garabedian and Simon Proulx-Senecal are not the first ice dance team to represent Armenia. Anastasia Grebenkina and Vazgen Azroyan represented Armenia in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Italy.
Andre Khatchaturian armenianweekly.com