From an early age, Charlotte Pieckenhagen recalls hearing stories of her
dad’s time as a rower with the Canadian national team. Those stories
inspired Charlotte as she worked towards her own international dreams.
“All of the stories he told us reminds me of how hard I need to work to get
to the top level,” says Charlotte, who is wearing the Maple Leaf this week
with Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team at the 2023 IIHF U18 Women’s
World Championship. “He’s a big inspiration for me growing up and I’m so
grateful for everything he does for me.”
After making her Team Canada debut last summer in a three-game series
against the United States, Charlotte is making sure to take in the whole
experience in Östersund.
“It’s my first time oversees, so just being here is an experience in
itself, “the 16-year-old (she turns 17 next Tuesday) says. “Its incredible
to just be at worlds, and to be here with this team makes it even better.”
Representing Canada isn’t something new for the Pieckenhagens. Curt
Pieckenhagen made his national team rowing debut as an 18-year-old at the
1983 Pan American Games in Caracas, Venezuela, as one of the youngest
athletes on the team.
He is also a member of the Harvard Varsity Club Hall of Fame, having helped
the Crimson to multiple NCAA championships with the heavyweight crew.
As Charlotte grows as an athlete and faces new challenges, Curt is happy to
play the role of proud father. He has supported her every step of the way,
from lacing up the skates himself when she first started, to now working
out with her in the gym.
“I’m exceptionally proud of her,” Curt says. “She’s always shown a prowess
for athleticism from a young age and to get to this level, she’s had to get
through barriers and show extreme commitment. For me, I see it as I’ve had
my time [with Team Canada] and now I want to make sure that it is my
children’s turn with this opportunity.”
Watching the U18 women’s worlds from home in Mississauga, Ont., Curt is
sending of encouragement across the Atlantic, something Charlotte says has
remained consistent throughout her life.
“He encourages me more during each game,” she says. “He reminds me to use
my strength, be the fastest skater out there, and things like ‘If you work
for it, you’ll get it.’”
Off the ice, Charlotte is also, not surprisingly, excelling in rowing. Last
summer, she was part of the Ridley College rowing team that captured the
gold medal at the Canadian Secondary School Rowing Association (CSSRA)
Charlotte has enjoyed training for both sports, too. Whether it’s putting
in the extra workouts on the ice, training in the family’s backyard gym or
taking the boats out to the water at 5 a.m., Charlotte has found that the
training for the two sports have improved her game on the ice.
“There’s a big component that translated over to the ice,” Charlotte says.
“Rowing is a lot of legs, arms and core, so when I get back on the ice I
have a lot of strength and speed built up from rowing.”
For now, Charlotte is focused on representing Canada on the ice at the U18
women’s worlds. Whenever she sees her name on the Team Canada jersey, she
remembers all the work that she has put in, and the people who got her to
where she is today.
“When I put the jersey on, the memories of buying my first jersey as a kid
come back. It’s a special moment,” Charlotte says. “I feel like I’m
representing the family and a really good name.”