In Kelowna’s Athans family, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.
Much like their dad, Gary, Marcus and Isaac Athans have tapped into both their passion for competition and their natural abilities to excel as multi-sport athletes.
In the 1970s and 80s, Gary Athans was a member of both the national water ski and the national alpine ski teams.
Today, Marcus, 17, and Isaac, 15, are both national-class water skiers, national-class alpine skiers and, for good measure play a third sport, football, for the KSS Owls’ program.
As opposed to focusing solely on one sport like many young, high-performance athletes now do, Gary said competing in a variety of disciplines has been beneficial for both boys.
“I think it’s good for them in the long run, they seem to be pretty keen about whatever they try,” said Gary Athans, who competed in downhill skiing at the 1984 Olympic Games. “It keeps their minds fresh when they’re doing different sports.”
Marcus is recently coming off a gold medal in the U17 jumping category—and an overall silver—at the Canadian national water ski championships this summer in Calgary. He also won the Western Canadian overall title in Abbotsford, and set a new personal best jump of 150 feet at a competition in the U.S.
Isaac won gold in slalom and jumping at the water ski nationals in 2016 in Winnipeg, while breaking a national record in the jumping event (134 feet). He was also third overall at Western Canadians behind his brother, Marcus, and won gold at the 2015 B.C. Summer Games.
With the water ski season at an end, the brothers have since shifted their attention to both football and snow skiing.
Marcus is the starting quarterback for the KSS Owls’ senior team, while Isaac fills the same role with the KSS junior squad. Isaac also won a national flag football title with his Kelowna teammates in August.
On the slopes, the Athans brothers are nationally-ranked junior racers, and train with the Apex Ski Club.
Marcus, who recently attended an alpine skiing training camp in Chile, is ranked second in Canada in the Super G discipline in the U17 age group. He’ll train and race this winter with the Okanagan Ski Team.
Isaac, ranked in the top 10 in Canada last season in U16 alpine racing, placed third in the Whistler Cup international race in the GS discipline and also won gold at the B.C. Winter Games.
While Gary takes pleasure in watching his sons excel in sports, the thrill of competition still flows through his veins. Gary is again competing in water skiing and was recently a member of Canada’s world senior team.
Most of his stiff competition these days is against Marcus and Isaac which Gary admits can be bittersweet because in his own words, he is “starting to lose.”