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Ann-Renée Desbiens brings Canadian monuments to Olympics with mask

Ann-Renée Desbiens brings Canadian monuments to Olympics with mask

When Ann-Renée Desbiens sat down with Quebecois mask artist Sylvie Marsolais of Sylabrush ahead of the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics, she had a specific theme in mind for her mask.

The up-and-coming goaltender is expected to be the biggest challenger to Shannon Szabados’ reign as Canada’s national team starter. She set an unprecedented number of records during her four years as a Wisconsin Badger, boasting more shutouts in her four years than any NCAA goaltender before her – in men’s or women’s hockey – and setting the bar impossibly high with her single-season statistics during her tenure.

As she looks towards her next challenge in Pyeongchang, South Korea, though, the 23-year-old goaltender decided to go all-in on her country with the lid design:

“Ann wanted to represent her country with some monuments,” Marsolais told InGoal.

“She’s from La Malbaie (Qc), so she choose to incorporate the Château Frontenac – a great Quebec monument.”

The Château Frontenac takes up one side of the design, rendered in remarkable detail using greyscale to give the world-renowned hotel a historic feel. Known as the most photographed hotel in the world, the grand railway hotel is the most recognizable part of the Quebec City skyline – and remains a source of pride for Canadians 125 years after it was first opened.

For the other side of the mask, Desbiens and Marsolais turned to the Western part of the country, instead.

“On the other side, she wasn’t sure about which monument to choose,” explained Marsolais.

“We suggested that we put the Calgary Tower, because it’s the city where Team Canada holds training camp and where the team bonds together.”


Sure enough, side two is a rendition of Calgary’s largest structure, built in 1967 to commemorate Canada’s centennial year and to promote growth in the city of Calgary.

So far, the Alberta-based metropolitan is doing quite well as the turn of the century passes, serving as one of the fastest-growing communities in North America. But for Desbiens and Team Canada, it’s also the home of their centralization training, where the women hoping to make Team Canada develop together for a season while playing international friendlies and competing against the Alberta Midget Hockey League.

The backplate of the mask gets the third and final monument, with Marsolais setting a gorgeous partial-greyscale rendition of the Ottawa Parliament against a dark evening sky. The bottom half of the building is broken apart intro three stripes for the Canadian flag, though, done in bright color to match the small flag at the top of the Peace Tower in the center of the block.

The mask is full of little details that make it a masterpiece. The red cage perfectly blends with the large red maple leaf that takes up the front, contrasting sharply with the black and white gradient used for the monuments.

There’s also a subtly incorporated map of Canada used to mark the transition between the monuments in the background and the maple leaf in the forefront, with the official Canada maple leaf logo subtly incorporated on the mask in a snowflake-esque design.

A tribute to the team, Marsolais and Desbiens put a line of footprints in the snowbank leading up to the Parliament on the backplate, honoring the team’s slogan, ‘Leaving Footprints’.

Desbiens and the rest of the Canadian team will be heading for the rink in Pyeongchang in just a little over a week, taking on the Olympic Athletes from Russia on Sunday, February 11th.

Take a look at some additional angles of the mask:

You can find more of Marsolais’ great work on her websiteTwitter feed and Instagram page.

About The Author

Cat Silverman

Catherine is the first American in a long line of Canadians, making her the black sheep before she even decided she wasn't going to be a Leafs fan. Writer for Today's Slapshot, InGoal Magazine, and, coach in the Arizona Coyotes Department of Hockey Development. Goalies are not voodoo.