Ottawa's Cody Sorensen did his family, friends and colleagues proud over the weekend after coming out of Olympic retirement to compete in the 2022 Beijing Winter Games, slip and sliding his way to a top 10 finish in the four-man bobsled.
“I’m beyond excited,” Candace Enman, president of Welch Capital Partners (WCP), told OBJ.social at their viewing party on Saturday night. Sorensen works for the advisory firm as a director of mergers and acquisitions. “We can’t wait to cheer him on.”
Enman organized the gathering with WCP’s managing director Stephan May and partner Bruce Raganold at Tailgators, a large sports bar located on Merivale Road. They invited about 100 friends, colleagues and clients, as well as Sorensen’s family.
Attendees got a kick out of the life-size cardboard cutout of Sorensen in sporty action. Organizers also managed to get their hands on an old bobsled, which remained on display throughout the night.
The mood was social and upbeat. Come race time, all eyes were on the multiple giant screens. Sorensen raced with bobsleigh pilot Chris Spring, Sam Giguère and Mike Evelyn, who’s also from Ottawa and works at Lockheed Martin.
Team Spring placed ninth overall (Sorensen's goal was to at least make top 10). Moreover, the elite athlete had the full Olympic experience this time around. At his inaugural winter games in Sochi, back in 2014, his team’s four-man bobsled crashed on the second run.
Sorensen made the decision last year to return to the sport after an eight-year retirement. The 36-year-old told OBJ in early December how the Beijing Games would be “almost like a second chance for us to give it one more shot.” If nothing else, the comeback would be a story to tell the grandchildren, he added.
Welch Capital Partners not only gave Sorensen its blessing as he started his intense training last summer but has remained one of his biggest fans throughout. It closely followed his progress and sponsored him in the World Cup series leading up to the Olympics. Raganold and his wife, Giselle Bergeron-Raganold, got up early every Sunday morning to watch Sorensen’s competitions, held in Europe.
“We didn’t miss a single race,” said Raganold.
Among the many faces from the business community was Shaun McEwan, president of ADGA Group. It was recently bought by Commissionaires Ottawa Group, which engaged WCP to advise on the acquisition.
Team Canada closed the Beijing Games with a bobsleigh bronze, won by the Justin Kripps and his four-man bobsleigh team. Now that the Olympics are over, Welch Capital Partners, which is an affiliate of Welch LLP, is eager to have Sorensen back at work.
The corporate finance and M&A advisory firm has been busy, said Enman. “We’re looking forward to him coming home."
Sorensen is a second-generation Olympian. His father, Ole Sorensen, competed in wrestling in 1972 in Munich. For most of his career, Ole was in charge of Canada’s anti-doping program.
Ole was feeling anxious about his son's race. Bobsledding is a high-speed sport, he noted.
“I’m all excited until race time and then I’m nervous. I’m not nervous about failure, I’m nervous about injury.”
The father spoke with great admiration about his son and his ability to succeed, both in sport and professionally. After competing at Sochi, Sorensen went and got his MBA from the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University. “He’s really a unique kid."
Ole acknowledged that people assume he pushed his son to have an Olympic career.
“Because I was an Olympian, people had the sense that I was like a drill sergeant with a brush cut and a 20-inch neck,” said the dad, who described himself more as “a string bean” who could fight. “I didn’t say, ‘You don’t get dessert unless you do pushups.’ That’s not my personality.”
He said his influence was more about exposing his son to his former teammates, who were normal, everyday guys.
“I think he came to the conclusion that the Olympics is attainable, if you’re disciplined and stay focused. It’s not out of reach.”
Sorensen’s mother, landscape artist Heather Smith, was “excited and a nervous wreck” about watching her son compete that night.
“We’re just so…I’m going to cry,” she warned OBJ.social as her eyes filled with tears. “I’m just so proud of him.
"We gave him support, but he did a lot of the work on his own.”