The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games may just be the crowning achievement in the family legacy of Canadian women’s hockey champion Gillian Apps. The Unionville, Ont. native won gold for Canada at Turin 2006 and is looking to repeat the feat at the 2010 Winter Games, solidifying the Apps name in Canadian hockey lore.
Apps is the granddaughter of hockey legend Syl Apps, who won three Stanley Cup championships as captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs and is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. He died at the age of , leaving those who carry the Apps name with big shoes to fill.
Gillian Apps is doing her part to keep the family tradition of hockey excellence alive and fans are taking notice. Apps recently starred in a national TV promotional campaign on CTV, entitled BELIEVE, reinforcing the commitment by Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium to promote Canadian Olympians and make them household names as Vancouver 2010 quickly approaches.
Despite her recognizable name and outstanding talent, Apps isn’t used to the attention she’s been getting.
The Consortium caught up with Apps recently, as she boarded a plane for a vacation in the Mexican Riviera. Apps talked about the star treatment she and her fellow Olympians have been getting and how her name is suddenly gaining attention for reasons other than her legendary grandfather.
Olympic Consortium: What was your reaction when you were asked to star in your own commercial?
Gillian Apps: It was an honour to be selected along with these other incredible athletes (Patrick Chan, Mellisa Hollingsworth, Steve Omischl). I was definitely surprised that I was asked, but also excited to be a part of this project. It’s really incredible, being in the first wave of these amazing athlete stories leading up to the 2010 Olympics.
OC: What was it like to be the star of a commercial all about you?
GA: It was kind of embarrassing at times. And definitely something I haven’t experienced before. Being on set, it’s really exciting to see how things work behind-the-scenes.
OC: When you saw the final product on TV, how did you feel?
GA: I thought it looked great. Having had an opportunity to see the others, I was excited to see how it would turn out. The voiceover [by Donald Sutherland], the production values and the artistic style gave me goose bumps.
OC: How have people around you responded to seeing you on a nationally-televised commercial?
GA: They’ve taken every opportunity to poke fun. But everyone has said that CTV did a really great job and everyone I’ve met has said they loved it.
OC: The theme of your commercial is BELIEVE. What does BELIEVE mean to you and why is it important for Canadians to BELIEVE in their Olympians?
GA: I think believing is what it’s all about. It’s a catchy and smart slogan. Athletes at Vancouver 2010 are going to be there because they believe in themselves, in their country and all that support from back home. In Torino, there was such a strong sense of pride. We knew Canada was completely behind us. It’s such an important thing to rally support for the athletes and that’s what this campaign is doing.
OC: The Consortium is looking to turn Canadian Olympians into stars leading up to Vancouver 2010. What has been your ‘celebrity moment’ leading up to the Games?
GA: I’ve spent some time around girls and women’s hockey tournaments over the last few months and the response has been phenomenal. People, girls in particular, like seeing female hockey players in cool commercials and so that kind of attention has been really nice.
OC: Canadians know the Apps name because of the legend of your grandfather. How will that change with a gold medal at Vancouver 2010?
GA: I hope people never forget what my grandfather did. I’m very proud of what he accomplished. Gold in Vancouver on home ice would be an honour for myself and my family, but his name, that’s not something I want people to forget.
Apps was able to surpass her grandfather in golden fashion, bringing home a gold medal for Canada at Turin 2006 in her Olympic debut; Syl competed at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin but never earned a medal. Having played left wing on Canada’s top line in Turin, Apps, Hayley Wickenheiser and Cherie Piper combined for 46 points over five games. Tied for the tournament lead in goal scoring with Piper, how many goals did Apps notch in Turin?
Submit your answer to email@example.com no later than . The first person to provide the correct answer will win a BELIEVE prize pack. The winner will be contacted in early July.