Ian Hutchings would love to see Canada do well in freestyle skiing because he has a passion for the sport and he’s watched generations of athletes grow into Olympians.
However, Hutchings isn’t one of the people in the audience or glued to a television set watching Canada’s athletes do their thing.
Hutchings, a Corner Brook native who lives in Dartmouth, N.S., is a member of the freestyle skiing judges panel at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang.
Hutchings admits it’s a difficult position to be in when you have to neutral, but he insists there is a great mix of judges from different countries and it doesn’t matter where the athlete is from. The objective is to base their judging on performance alone.
“I want the best performance to get a gold medal at the end of the day,” Hutchings said from Pyeonchang Saturday afternoon. “I want the best performance to be rewarded. That’s my reward. Doesn’t matter what nation.”
Hutchings is chief of training flight dispatch with Jazz and his friendship with a co-worker and ex-freestyle skier Gerry Benoit is how he developed a passion for the sport.
Hutchings caught the bug after Benoit sold him on the idea by sharing stories of his great time on a particular weekend where he was gone off judging a competition.
Hutchings made his way to British Columbia in the late 1980s and he got involved in judging because there was a need for them out west.
He started out judging young athletes at club meets and has actually watched three generations of freestyle enthusiasts go from a low-level event to the Olympic stage.
He’s now a judge watching the next generation try to put their country on the medal podium and is happy to be giving back to a sport he absolutely loves, despite never giving it a shot himself.
While he was removed from the athletes, tucked away in an enclosed room while doing his role, he did experience the sights and sounds of the opening ceremonies and saw first-hand the electric atmosphere that comes with the world’s best athletes poised for gold after years of training with hopes of being an Olympian.
“The pride for the colours, the pride for the flag it’s very easy to see. They have an incredible passion for their countries,” he said.
It took him a long time to reach the Olympic stage after judging the same athletes for years at world championship events, but he did it so he’s proud. But he isn’t one to get overly excited because he knows what the Olympics is really all about.
“It’s not about me. It’s about these athletes,” he said.