14 March 2021
Elite level sport is all about striving for new heights. Just ask Melanie Jue, for whom last year’s Women’s Hockey League title was the latest in a string of accolades in several different games. In her student days, Melanie helped Cornell to a first ever ECAC women’s hockey title and only lost out to an overtime goal in the NCAA Championship game (current Rays team-mate Jessica Wong potted the winner for Minnesota-Dulluth). Off the ice, she has twice helped Canada to World Championship gold in ball hockey and even found time to play in goal for Cornell’s field hockey team.
And, of course, as a part of the Vanke Rays project from the very start, Melanie is also trying to help Chinese hockey ascend to the pinnacle of world sport as preparations continue for next year’s Winter Olympics. Jue, potentially, could be a part of team China at the tournament, qualifying via her own Chinese heritage.
However, the assault on the latest summit – a successful defense of the Dragons’ WHL title – is on hold right now. Which leads neatly to the second part of our ‘Hockey substitute’ series, coinciding with what should have been game two of our Grand Final series against Agidel.
Away from hockey, Melanie has a long-standing love of the great outdoors that grew from a passion for hiking. Growing up in British Columbia, on Canada’s outstanding Pacific coast, Melanie started on her doorstep and has taken her hobby around the world with her.
“I’ve been climbing now for maybe eight years and hiking for 15,” she said. “I’ve gotten to climb and hike some really awesome mountains back home in B.C. and I wanted to climb in the Urals, but it’s never a good time during the season.”
It turns out climbing in Russia is a big thing. “The Russians have some AMAZING competition climbers,” Melanie added. “This year’s IFSC [International Federation of Sports Climbing] championships were actually in Moscow and I wanted to go watch, but we had practice.
“While I’ve been here, though, I’ve climbed in two gyms in Yekaterinburg and another in Ufa, and all of the people have been really nice.”
That community element of both climbing and hiking is a big part of the attraction – and a handy helper for beginners.
“If you’re hiking, you always need to be prepared. Bring safety essentials, know the map and always tell someone where you’re going. Wear good shoes, and hike with someone if you can.
“For climbing, the community is wonderful. If you go to a local gym, you’re sure to make friends and learn the ropes fast.”
After reaching the top in so many different sports, we’re looking forward to hearing about the next summits that Melanie can conquer.