Height: 176 cm
Weight: 73 kg
Date of Birth: October 31, 1979
Place of Birth: Ahmadi, Kuwait
Residence: Calgary, AB
Perhaps watching the Olympic torch run past her en route to lighting the flame for the 1988 Winter Olympics was the start of Helen Upperton’s Olympic journey. She was 8 years old at the time did not grow up dreaming of becoming an Olympic hero. Nor would she have imagined that her love of sports, speed, and adrenaline would have led her to the top of a bobsleigh track.
Helen Upperton has made impressive strides since beginning her career in bobsleigh. As a pilot, she has shattered numerous records, made history for her country on more than one occasion and helped to build the Canadian women’s program into a bobsleigh power house, all en route to becoming the most accomplished female bobsleigh pilot in Canada.
Helen began her bobsleigh career in the fall of 2002. She spent the first few months competing as a brakeman but knew from the beginning that she was meant to be driving that sled. She switched to the pilot position in 2003 and earned the Canada I ranking in her first season as a pilot.
Helen solidified herself as one of the world’s top pilots in the 2005-2006 season when she won Canada’s first ever World Cup gold medal in women’s bobsleigh. That season, her teamed climbed from 11th ranked in the world to a second overall ranking and became a dark horse for a medal at the Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy. At her first Olympic Games in 2006, Helen and teammate Heather Moyse finished in 4th place narrowly missing the bronze medal by an aggregate time of 5/100ths of a second over four runs. This result was both devastating and motivating for the team. Helen set her sights on redemption and over the past several seasons, she has delivered many World Cup podium result.
With Heather Moyse, Jenny Ciochetti and Shelley Ann Brown splitting time on the brakes, Helen’s team has rarely placed out of the top five in the last 30 World Cup competitions. In 2009, Helen was en route to another record breaking season and was ranked number one in the world before detaching two ribs during a world cup in Germany.
The pinnacle of her career came this past February while competing at her second Olympic games in Vancouver. Helen and teammate Shelley Ann Brown thrilled the crowds at the packed Whistler sliding center by fighting their way to a silver medal where they joined their teammates Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse to stand at the top of the Olympic podium. It was a historical moment for Canada and for the Women’s Bobsleigh program.
Before bobsleigh, Helen competed at a national level in luge, soccer and track & field. After high school, she chose to focus on track & field, competing as a triple jumper for the University of Texas in Austin where she earned Big XII commissioner honor roll and earned a BSc in 2002.
Recognizing the importance of how her athletic endeavors as a kid influenced her success as an adult, Helen enjoys being involved in the community. Now living in Calgary, Helen does her best to give back to the city where she grew up. She is a great storyteller and avid speaker and loves to inspire others by discussing topics like: following your dreams, finding purpose, goal setting, and surpassing your limits. Along with corporate speaking, Helen loves to visit schools and talk to kids with the Calgary based Youth Education Through Sport program and also the Passion for Excellence program that is sponsored by the Dilawri Automotive Group. She is involved in the humanitarian organization Right to Play as an athlete ambassador and is also an athlete ambassador for an incredible program for young girls called Fast and Female. Nowadays whenever Helen has free time, she enjoys playing soccer, snowboarding and riding her motorbike. She also loves travelling, reading and riding on monster sized amusement park rides.