Skiers off to the Games
They support effort and achievement.
But the emphasis will be on fun for the Prince George athletes competing in next week’s Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in St. Albert, Alta. Why would it be any different? It follows the focus of a national organization’s mission of optimizing the benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle to improve the well-being of individuals with intellectual disabilities.
Four of five Prince George athletes entering the Games have been training at Otway under cross country skiing coach Calvin Dyck: Barb Conway, Kim Erickson, Danny Lafrienere and Stephanie Tremblay.
“If you got this far, it’s great,” Dyck said prior to a training session on Sunday. “They’re all champions as far as I’m concerned because you put the effort in, you did what you needed to do and you had a good time doing it. You go there, you do your best, you be a sport about it, say thanks, it was good.”
Thom Ross, a coach with Special Olympics Prince George for more than 20 years, echoed Dyck’s comments.
“With Special Olympics, we don’t put emphasis on medal count. It’s fun. It’s fitness, it’s fun, it’s comradeship.”
Also entering the multi-sport event is Jennifer Germann, who will compete in showshoeing. The Games are scheduled to run from Tuesday to Saturday.
The Prince George contingent will join teammates on the provincial squad, who qualified during B.C. Games last year in Kelowna.
“I think they’re getting fairly excited. When you land on the ground in St. Albert, Alberta, that will bring things to attention because they’ll meet their other co-skiers that they’ve worked with, their friends,” Dyck said. “They’ll meet them, they’ll see them and they’ll be sitting there. They’ll get excited.”
Training for the skiers this season dates back to the fall. Dryland training in October included runs up and down University Way. Then, the following month, Mother Nature provided a helping hand.
“(The season) has gone very good because we got snow in November, and it’s the first time we had snow in November for many a year,” said Dyck, who noted that their first session on the snow was Nov. 13. “That was really, really an assistance and a help for us here to get started on the snow very early.
“December was a little cooler. We had a few days that were icy, cold. But that’s the way it is. We get what we get. That’s just the way it goes.”
Dyck has worked with the Special Olympics group in Prince George for eight years, and been cross country skiing for 15 years. He also made the trip to the 2008 Canada Winter Games in Quebec City. Of the four skiers heading to St. Albert, only Conway competed in Quebec.
While geography would suggest more spectators from the city this year, Dyck said there wasn’t a shortage of B.C. supporters in 2008.
“We had people from Prince George out there and we were in Quebec City. Opening Ceremonies at night at minus-20, outdoors and stuff, and there was just as much support in Quebec City as there was at any time. There was lots of support.”
Other sports in the Games include curling, figure skating, floor hockey and speed skating. Jasper will play host to alpine skiing events. The Games are expected to attract more than 600 athletes.
A portion of the athletes competing in St. Albert will qualify to represent Canada at the next World Winter Games, set to take place in PyeongChang, South Korea from Jan. 26 to Feb. 6, 2013.