Skip to content

Red Deerian to coach fencing team at Canada Winter Games

With the 2023 Canada Winter Games right around the corner, Red Deer’s Michelle Ostrikoff will lead Team Alberta’s fencing team from the coach’s seat.
Red Deer’s Michelle Ostrikoff will coach Team Alberta’s fencing team at the 2023 Canada Winter Games later this month in PEI. (Photo supplied by Michelle Ostrikoff)

With the 2023 Canada Winter Games right around the corner, Red Deer’s Michelle Ostrikoff will lead Team Alberta’s fencing team from the coach’s seat.

It’s been 10 years since the sport was in the Games and Ostrikoff said the opportunity is exciting, not only for her as a coach but for the future of fencing.

“The opportunity for me to support what is possibly our next generation of Olympic athletes for Canada is just tremendous,” she said.

“To be able to go and see the quality of these young athletes is tremendous for me. I was just so fortunate they selected me so I could take part in this and help support the team.

“I hope we come back with great results but one thing I’m really focusing on for the team is that they’re bringing nothing less than their best effort.”

The Canada Winter Games will take place later this month in Prince Edward Island from Feb. 18 - March 3. However, the fencing portion of the Games is only four days long beginning on Feb. 28.

She explained her self and team manager Spencer McPhedran, who coaches sabre fencing in Edmonton, were selected through a long interview process a year ago by the Alberta Fencing Association.

The fencing competition is broken up into three different categories for both male and female competitors including foil, épée, and sabre. They are the three modern disciplines of fencing and the difference between the three is just different types of blades.

Team Alberta will take six competitors to the Games who are from either Calgary or Edmonton including Alison Wang, Leon Wujastyk, Augusta De Silva, William Robinson, Azalea Li, and Jacob Li. Ostrikoff explained Azalea, who is 12 years old, may be one of the youngest competitors in the entirety of the Games.

“We have a really well-rounded crew. Just to be able to coach these guys out there I couldn’t be happier. I can’t wait to see what they’re going to do for us,” she added.

Ostrikoff has coached various sports for approximately 20 years in Red Deer including bowling as well as cycling and track. Currently, she’s coaching pentathlon and fencing.

Her journey into fencing didn’t start at an early age. She learned to love the sport through her daughter who started fencing at 10 years old. In 2014, Ostrikoff began taking up the sport as a competitor and started coaching just a few years later.

“I fell in love with the sport. It’s just a great sport that you can do young all the way until you’re old,” she explained.

No one in her family had fenced before her daughter so it was new to both of them but they excelled at it. Ostrikoff has competed on the provincial, national, and international levels of fencing. Next year she hopes to compete in the world cup as a veteran fencer and potentially in the Commonwealth Games.

She coaches at the Red Deer Fencing Club, where she teaches the intermediate and senior classes, and some of her students range from 10 years old to 70 years old. She also coaches at a club in Calgary where she’s learning from the coaching staff in hopes of reaching a higher-level coaching certificate.

Despite fencing returning to the games after an absence since 2013, Ostrikoff believes it’s still a growing sport locally and nationally.

“I’m seeing more people joining the sport. So with this forward growth, I really hope to see that fencing will remain in the Canada Winter Games,” Ostrikoff said.

“It is becoming more competitive on our provincial circuit just because there are more people so hopefully that continues.”

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
Read more