A very enthusiastic group of Special Olympic downhill and cross country skiers are training hard these days up on Silver Star Mountain and Sovereign Lake.
Every Tuesday head coach Dudley Coulter, a former national racer, challenges his athletes to improve their technique to get faster for the competitions in Kamloops mid-February.
“Sovereign Lake nordic trails are the perfect venue for our nordic racers and despite the drills and tough workouts they all have a lot of fun,” said Heidi Borgeaud, local program coordinator.
It is the second season with the team for Matthew, and his mom, Angela Mullen, can not say enough about how this program has changed her son’s life.
“My son has a great time cross-country skiing at Sovereign Lake. He learns a lot about the sport, from volunteers and other participants in the program,” she said. “As a mother, I cannot begin to express my gratitude for what this charity has given my son and our family. It is so nice to have a sports program that my autistic son can participate in and have fun. He is even doing better in school.”
On Silver Star Mountain the alpine team has invited SO skiers from Kelowna to join them in their training sessions this season to get them ready for the challenging races at the SOBC Games.
“On Saturdays you can see up to 15 Special Olympic skiers in their red jackets skiing fast down the runs and taking on gates,” said alpine head coach Britta Gretzmacher. “All our athletes are very committed to their sport and very proud of their progress. Their faces are all smiles at the end of the day and this reflects on to the coaches, parents, caregivers and all people involved.”
Bourgeaud said the goal for all of the athletes is to do well at the provincial games in Kamloops and to qualify for the Special Olympic National Games next year in Newfoundland.
“All our programs have specially trained coaches and are intended for people of all ages and abilities who have an intellectual disability,” she said. “Our motto is ‘train to compete,’ but for most it is also a very important social activity.
“We invite anyone to join us and are always looking for volunteers. Having the funds to support our program and to send athletes to competitions is always a challenge and we are excited to have a joint golf fundraiser with Kindale in June. It will be a lot of fun and we hope the community will support us as in the past years.”
For more information on the SOBC Winter Games please visit: www.specialolympics.bc.ca/2015-sobc-winter-games
For information on the local programs please go to: www.sobcvernon.ca and visit: www.vernongolfspectacular.com for the fundraising event.