Cody Sorensen is on track to compete in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The director of mergers and acquisitions with Welch Capital Partners has taken time off from his full-time job to return to international bobsled racing, following a nearly eight-year hiatus from the sport.
If all goes smoothly, he will be part of one of the biggest sporting events in the world this February, hurtling down the ice at average speeds of 135 km/h. Not that there’s anything smooth about bobsledding. To use his words, “It feels like you’re in a washing machine and then rolled down a hill. There’s no suspension in the sleds at all, so every little bump in the ice you feel. And, of course, there are some pretty incredible G-forces as you go through the corners.”
Sorensen spoke over the phone Wednesday night from the German town of Altenberg, where he’s competing with Canada's national team in the IBSF (International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation) World Cup circuit.
The multi-race series started in Innsbruck, Austria nearly two weeks ago and is scheduled to finish in the Swiss alpine town of St. Moritz on Jan. 16, when the Olympic qualification window closes.
Between race days, the team is busy with strength training, performing two or three runs on the track, sled maintenance, as well as all the warm-up, stretching and cool-down exercises required. There's also regular COVID testing.
“The recovery time on the old body isn’t as quick, but everything else still feels pretty natural,” said the 35-year-old athlete.
Sorensen’s return to racing marks the first time he’s touched a sled since competing in the four-men bobsleigh competition in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. His experience ended abruptly after his team flipped on one of the curves and slid down the rest of the track upside down during its second run. The athletes were able to walk away from the crash, but Sorensen, who suffered a mild concussion, was not medically cleared to compete in the final two heats.
He’s now looking to give the Olympics "one more shot".
Sorensen credits Welch Capital Partners, which is the consulting affiliate of full-service accounting firm Welch LLP, with allowing him to follow his dream of competing in the Olympics for a second time. Welch LLP/Welch Capital Partners are also a sponsor.
“I don’t think I would be here if it wasn’t for Welch,” he acknowledged.
“Just to get another opportunity to win a medal and show the world what we got would be great, and even more so after spending the past seven or eight years sitting in an office,” said Sorensen, who earned his MBA in 2016 from Smith Business School at Queen's University. “It would be a great story to tell the grandchildren.”
Candace Enman, president of Welch Capital Partners, said the firm is excited for Sorensen, who has incidentally started a Road to Beijing electronic newsletter.
“When Cody first told us he was asked to try out for the Olympic team, I’m not going to lie, we were a bit surprised but we were also 100 per cent all in,” Enman told OBJ.social. “Cody is a true athlete and leader on and off the field, and Welch Capital Partners and Welch LLP are extremely proud to support his Olympic dream.”
Sorensen is a second-generation Olympian. His father, Ole Sorensen, competed in wrestling in the 1972 Munich Games.
The graduate of Glebe Collegiate Institute originally got into bobsledding from the world of track and field. He’d been an Ontario provincial high school hurdles champion, captain of the University of Guelph Gryphons varsity track team, and three-time national medallist in 60-metre hurdles.
“I think I was self-aware enough to know that I didn’t have Olympic-level talent in sprinting, but bobsledding seemed to be a good fit for my physical skillset,” said Sorensen of a sport that demands strength, power and speed. “Aiming for a world championship medal or an Olympic medal is not something that a lot of individuals get the opportunity to do. That, of course, is a huge attraction in bobsled.”
Sorensen said he’s spent the past year working on his strength and speed.
“I was out of shape at Christmas last year and needed to do something to motivate myself and be healthy again,” said Sorensen, who found the work-from-home trend caused by the pandemic to be convenient.
“I almost hate to say it out loud, but COVID, in some way, has actually been somewhat conducive to training. I wasn’t meeting clients on a daily basis, I wasn’t wearing a suit and tie every day, so it was easier to get a workout done at lunch hour or during the early-morning hour before setting up shop.”
Sorensen’s team includes former hockey player Mike Evelyn, who’s also from Ottawa and is a systems engineer at Lockheed Martin Canada, former CFL player Sam Giguère and Australian-born bobsleigh pilot Chris Spring, 37, who was the catalyst for Sorenson’s return to action.
He came to Ottawa for a visit and got to talking with Sorensen about racing again. “He’s a few years older than me, so I figured if he can still compete then there might be a chance for me to do it, too.”
Returning to the Olympics would be “almost like a second chance for us to give it one more shot," said Sorensen, adding that he'd be proud and grateful to be able to walk into the opening ceremony representing his country.
“I don’t want to be a tourist going to the games, if we do qualify. There’s a goal in mind to try and win a medal, of course."