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From two corners of the world: Olympic hopeful Estelle Duvin making waves for Carabins and French hockey

Matt Scace

Estelle Duvin has worn many different jerseys in her career.

After years of personal development, the results are starting to show on both the international and national stage. Now a member of the Université de Montreal Carabins, the Coudekerque-Branche, France native is becoming a well-known—and feared—face in the RSEQ conference.

She has also found her place on the international stage for France’s national team—a spot that may earn her a ticket to the Beijing 2022 Olympics if the team qualifies.

“It’s great,” Duvin says. “I’m very proud.”

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While Duvin’s career is young at just 21 year of age, she’s been in the game for a while.

At the 2011-12 Under-18 World Junior Division I qualifiers, Duvin kickstarted her international career when she was just 14. At the tournament’s end, she would place second on the team in scoring, with three goals and five points in five games.

The success of reaching our goal is the greatest.

It’s no surprise that years later, she would see it as the first turning point in her career.

“I realized for the first time the pride that representing my country gave me,” she says. “Since that day, I work hard every day to continue to live that.”

After her first run at international hockey, the French U18 team would be her home for the 2012-13 and 2014-15 seasons. Although she had become a mainstay on the junior team after her first year, Duvin’s 2014-15 campaign was where she made her first mark on the world stage. At the U18 World Junior Championships, she’d score a tournament-best nine goals and 13 points in just five games, helping France win the gold.

“(It was) my best junior experience,” says Duvin, though admitting her personal results don’t take precedence over the team’s performance. “The success of reaching our goal is the greatest.”

Despite Duvin’s personal performances, the French national team has fallen in recent years – in 2016-17, they finished in last place at the DI World Championships. But in last April’s event —the tournament Duvin labelled her “greatest memory in my hockey career” – France won gold.

She’s the type of player that when the level gets higher, she gets better.

With the win, the French team is set to play at the elite World Championships in Finland this April. It will be the French team’s first-ever appearance in the tournament.

There’s no doubt it’s a big step for France’s hockey program but, maintaining their place in the world ranks will be a tall order. To qualify for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, the team will have to finish as a top-eight country in the world. It’s a challenge Duvin understands, but she’s also knows the team has enough drive to bring them there.

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“We have good chances to do it, but it’s going to be a big challenge,” says Duvin. “I’m going to keep working hard (so we) have a good chance. It’s very exciting…it’s the competition that makes all athletes dream.”

While she waits for April, Duvin has become a prominent member of the Carabins core group, including a small handful of three women who hail from France’s national program. Coming off a fifth-place finish at the U SPORTS Championship last season, her current focus is on elevating Montreal’s program while she waits for the World Championships.

She’s probably one of the best raw talents we have here in the province.

“I play for Team France and the Carabins with the same mindset…I think (the Carabins) helps me perform with Team France,” she says.

Montreal head coach Isabelle Leclaire says Duvin is a special player for the Carabins to have on the ice, given her combination of experience and maturity.

“She’s the type of player that when the level gets higher, she gets better,” Leclaire says. “She’s really got it.”

Now in her third season with Montreal, Duvin has settled into the gruelling 20-game RSEQ regular season – with the Carabins holding an 8-2-0 record and the No.1 ranking in the nation after the first half of the campaign. With two seasons and an endless list of international experience to draw from, Duvin is certainly prepared for what is to come.

“She’s probably one of the best raw talents we have here in the province,” Leclaire says. “I expect her to become dominant in the next season and I think she’s someone we need to keep an eye on.”

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