Every Sunday from January through March – 10 athletes meet at Red Mountain to have fun, develop skills and prepare to compete on the Special Olympic stage.
Thanks to the generous contribution of Red Mountain, providing ski passes and rentals, the Trail Special Olympics Ski Team has been training now for four years on the world-renowned ski hill.
The would-be ski racers range in age from nine years to middle aged, but even the older ones are young at heart, says Special Olympic supporter Cyra Frisk.
Kurt Kutcher is the head coach, and has been involved since its inception.
“My favourite part of coaching is listening to Joe singing to himself as he skis, or watching Charlotte throw her hands up in the air at the end of a run like she’s won a gold medal,” said Kutcher. “After coaching (these athletes) for a while, one realizes that most of us spend too much time worrying about things that don’t really matter.”
Kutcher is supported by Darrel Fry who coaches the more elite athletes, the provincial and national hopefuls.
Fry coached Aaron Boss and Stuart Hawton while they competed at the provincials in Kelowna last year, and are training hard to hopefully make the nationals this year.
But no matter how much success they have in competition, the weekly trip to the ski hill is something special in itself.
“It’s all about getting people in the outdoors and enjoying the experience,” said Red general manager, Erik Kalacis. “We want to turn on more fans to skiing, and we’re very proud to be supporting Special Olympics athletes and volunteers.”
Red’s support is both generous and instrumental in making the ski team affordable and accessible to all participants and volunteers.
“The understated support of Red is indicative of the community spirit and dedication to supporting the development of all athletic excellence which makes Red Mountain a truly family and community-oriented hill,” said Frisk .
“All that, while still being a world-class destination.”