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CAAWS Communication Consultant is press Chief for Turin Figure Skating

Ottawa Citizen
February 6, 2006

On New Year's Eve, Barb MacDonald flew to Italy for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.

The Ottawa native, whose introduction to sport was playing road hockey with her three brothers outside the family farm in Metcalfe, will not represent Canada as a competitor. Instead, the award-winning communications specialist has been appointed to the select group of 14 venue press chiefs, dealing with media relations at assorted locations for each sport.

MacDonald, who is learning Italian, will serve double duty. She is to be in charge of media relations for figure skating and short-track speed skating, which take place at the same location.

"I haven't seen a complete list, but, as far as I know, I am the only Canadian who will be working in this capacity in Torino,'' MacDonald said, adding that she expects to head a team of eight supervisors and some 50 volunteers during the Games. "Most of the supervisors will be from various European countries and most of the volunteers will be Italian.

"It's a great way to begin my jubilee year,'' she said.

MacDonald brings some 20 years of experience in media relations and a lifelong love of sport to her profession. She admits she didn't grow up playing a lot of sports.

"I simply didn't have the opportunity, but I always loved it. My first school didn't have a gym and I was growing up in the era when all the time at the arena went to boys' hockey. I was 17 before figure skating was introduced in my community. I just loved watching sports, but I didn't know that you could make a career out of sport unless you were an athlete.''

Hoping to meld her love of sport and her communications ability, she studied broadcasting at Algonquin with the goal of becoming a sportscaster. Instead, her career path took her to what was then the Carleton Board of Education, first as an audio-visual technician, then as a community relations officer and eventually as the manager of public relations.

Meanwhile, her volunteer work ranged from coaching youngsters and working with the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity to media relations work with such organizations as Habitat for Humanity, the Y Women of Distinction and the Billy Graham Mission. "With everything I've done, I've learned skills that I've been able to apply to other things,'' said MacDonald, whose primary focus returned to sports when she volunteered for Skate Canada in 1993.

"I just wanted to drive a van or something, but they asked me to run the media room and that experience has led directly to where I am now.''

Along the way, she handled media relations for the Canadian Hockey Association's national public education anti-abuse campaign, the 2001 World Figure Skating Championships in Vancouver and Washington in 2001 and 2003 and was a media relations supervisor at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and deputy press chief for the 2005 European Figure Skating Championships, the test event for the Torino Games.



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