Two elite Canadian athletes,
each of whom competed
internationally and one who
coached at the 2018 Winter Olympics,
are now challenging themselves with
First-year students Greg Rafter
and Robynne Thompson represented
Canada’s national team in skeleton, a
sliding sport in which competitors race
down a frozen track on a small sled,
headfirst and face down. Both believe
a career in law will allow them to
continue being involved in sport.
Rafter, the athlete-turned-coach,
is interested in the public policy and
politics of sports.
“Many aspects of sport have an
immense political and administrative
framework that affects every aspect
of competition, including venue
organization, governing bodies for
competition, and drug testing,” he says.
“It makes you want to look behind the
curtain and become a positive part of
The native of Calgary chose the
University of Alberta because of its
reputation for excellence and its Health
Thompson was drawn to law
studies to make an impact in other
“You can make change in the world,
I feel, as an athlete. I want to turn it
now into how I can help other people
accomplish their goals.”
While the worlds of competitive
sports and law look different, the
lessons the high-performance athletes
learned have prepared them for the
next three years of school.
Public speaking, time management
and staying cool under pressure are
abilities that will be invaluable, says
Rafter says professionalism, cohesion
among peers and teamwork are
transferable attributes he developed
as an athlete.
“It’s performance-based here, but
as students in a cohort we still train
together,” says Rafter.
Rafter’s background in skeleton
includes competing in IBSF World
Cups, and on the Intercontinental,
Europa and America’s Cup circuits
before he switched to coaching for
the Canadian team.
Thompson has competed in several
World Cups as well, placing first in
the 2014 Canadian Championship,
and first in the Junior Skeleton World
Championships in 2011.
“It took me eight years to get my
bachelor’s because I only did university
in the summer until I was done
Now retired from sports competition,
both can redirect their laser-focus to
“Like being an athlete, as a lawyer
you’re an advocate,” says Rafter.