Vernon’s Matt Hamilton, a member of Snowboard Canada’s Para Snowboard NextGen program, has been named one of 55 recipients of a special funding grant. (Photo courtesy Canadian Paralympic Committee)

Vernon snowboarder scores major funding grant

Snowboarder Matt Hamilton wins $10,000 grant from Petro-Canada

It was his soon-to-be bride, Jade, who convinced Vernon’s Matt Hamilton to get back on his snowboard.

And Hamilton is grateful to his now wife for the push.

Hamilton, a member of Snowboard Canada’s Para Snowboard Nextgen program, was named this week as one of 55 young Canadian athletes from both summer and winter sports selected by Petro-Canada, the COC and CPC to receive a Fuelling Athletes and Coaching Excellence (FACE) Program grant.

It is one of the most prestigious athletic clubs in Canada.

These athletes and their coaches are awarded a $10,000 FACE grant to help them with their journey ($5,000 directly to the athlete and $5,000 to their coach). FACE grants are often used for training, equipment and travel expenses.

Hamilton is coached by Greg Picard.

A heavy-duty mechanic by day, Hamilton was seriously injured in a workplace accident in Alberta in 2005 when a dump truck’s heavy box crushed him in the lower body. Nearly a year after the accident and multiple surgeries, he was struggling to find himself when he met Jade.

When she found out he was a former snowboarder, she convinced him to get back on the board as the pair went on a date to Banff.

“She’s given me a ton of support,” said Hamilton, 37. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.”

A native of North Vancouver, Hamilton moved to Edmonton and learned to snowboard at nearby Lake Eden, a former garbage dump converted into a man-made lake and ski hill in the community of Stony Plain. He cross-trained in the off-season with his friends with inline skating.

With lots of family in the North Okanagan, the Hamiltons moved to Vernon three years ago and live 10 minutes away from Silver Star Mountain. Hamilton attended, as a spectator, the national para snowboard championships at Kelowna’s Big White, and his competitive juices began flowing.

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He met and talked with fellow Vernon para snowboarder Curt Minard who represented Canada at the 2018 Paralympics in South Korea. Hamilton worked at his craft and earned a spot on the NextGen team.

“I’m off to the Netherlands later this year for the first race of the season,” said Hamilton, who works two weeks on, two weeks off as a heavy duty mechanic in Fort McMurray. “My company and work allows me to travel and train, they’ve been very accommodating, so I’m grateful for the support and for the grant.”

Developed by Petro-Canada, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC), and facilitated by their national sport partners, the FACE Program supports up-and-coming athletes when they need it most: when they are striving to represent Canada at the Olympic or Paralympic Games, but don’t yet qualify for government funding. Recipients are selected based on potential. The funding is courtesy of Petro Canada.

READ MORE: National title, near miss for Vernon board athletes

Since 1988, FACE grants have supported more than 3,000 athletes and coaches by providing more than $11,000,000 in financial support.

In addition to providing financial support, FACE athletes and coaches are invited to an annual summit to learn from Olympians and Paralympians, and receive advice on media training, public speaking and personal-brand development.

Past recipients include Natalie Wilkie (Para Cross Country ski), Mac Marcoux (Para Alpine Ski) and Rosie MacLennan (Gymnastics) – all who earned medals for Canada at the most recent Olympic and Paralympic Games.

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