Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Grace Dafoe, I’m a National Team skeleton athlete, and live in Calgary, Alberta. I grew up active, doing skiing, dance, gymnastics & then eventually finding my passion in figure skating – which I did for 14 years at a provincial level.
I started skeleton in 2012, have been competing internationally since 2014, and made the jump to the National team in 2019.
I’ve competed in over 50 international races, including a World Junior Championship, and am a 2x North American Cup Gold Medalist. I also am currently ranked 5th in Canada.
Off the track, I pride myself in my community work, including my day job with Classroom Champions, which uses athletes to deliver educational content through a digital dashboard. I also am an ambassador with the KidSport Calgary Chapter, and various other organizations.
I love food, community, and inspiring others to chase their dreams – I know that those role models made a difference when I was a kid, and I want to be that kind of person to the next generation!
What is an issue or topic you are passionate about or would like to see changed?
Making the sport system more accessible, but also easier to navigate for athletes. My passion for this was discovered once I found myself trying to make the jump to the National Team in skeleton – I realized that a lot of the information, support & funding isn’t there, especially in a smaller sport. I have been involved on the Alberta Skeleton Board of Directors as an Athlete Rep, but more recently am finding a way to be involved with Sport Policy & providing feedback on my experience to help it improve.
What specific strategies would you like to see parents, coaches or sport administrators do to improve diversity in sport or progress your cause?
Funding is big – our sport is expensive, especially the equipment to invest in initially. With funding, more people may be inclined to come out & try it (we do offer free learn to push sessions!), but also retaining of people interested if there was a lower startup cost.
I’d also like to see sport organizations sharing athletes in areas – for example we have other sports come out for team building sessions learning to push a skeleton sled. It not only is fun for everyone to try something new, but it could help athletes discover an otherwise unknown sport to them, and they could choose to pursue it.
Lastly, as an ambassador for KidSport Calgary, I see first hand the opportunities families are presented when they apply for funding for fees & get access to the equipment bank. It means their kids can pursue the sport they love, with less burden on the family. We need to keep supporting organizations like this that have direct access to sport organizations, and making sure people know that money shouldn’t be a barrier to kids starting or trying sports.
What is your favourite leadership quote?
“A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein
Selfishly, I am going to plug myself – https://gracedafoe.ca – you can follow my journey, as I try to qualify for the 2026 Winter Olympics, as well as the “behind the scenes” of what being a high level athlete entails.