With fantastic snow conditions up at Red Mountain and Black Jack this winter, it was the perfect time for Special Olympics BC (SOBC) Trail to host its first Snow Sports Winter Festival earlier this month.
“We had great support,” coach and event organizer Ben Postmus told the Rossland News. “Both courses were excellent; the weather, couldn’t ask for anything better. Red Mountain Resort did a fabulous job of supporting us, letting us run races on their hill, same with Black Jack Ski Club.”
The event welcomed about 70 athletes and coaches from as far away as Campbell River, who competed in alpine skiing events at Red and snowshoeing races at the Black Jack Ski club on Saturday, followed by a banquet and dance at the Prestige in the evening.
And once the races concluded, SOBC-Trail athletes shone brightly, mounting the podium in almost every event.
In snowshoeing, Kayleigh Postmus raced to first place finishes in the 50-metre and 100-metre sprints, and a silver in the 400-m, in what was a last minute entry for the Fruitvale native, while Patricia Sota took second place in the 50, third in the 200 and fourth in the 100.
“I’m proud of what I’ve done,” said Kayleigh. “It was hard work and I want to thank my coaches — Luke, Jarod, Debbie and especially Ben — for training me … to get this far.”
Will Thatcher captured gold in the Male 02 400-m sprint, took home second-place honours in the Male 01-100-m sprint and 800-m, and third in the 200m.
Jake Miller won silver in the Male 200-m and the Male 400-m snowshoe races, and fourth in the 100. Both Thatcher and Miller will compete in the Canada Special Olympic Winter Games in Corner Brook, Nfld next month, with Thatcher competing in snowshoeing and Miller in floor hockey. The 2016 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games is a qualifying event for athletes to represent Canada at the 2017 Special Olympics Winter Games in Austria.
Meanwhile, Jordan McPhee took third in the Male 02 100-m sprint and fourth in the 200-m, while the Times’ star carrier, Eugene LaRoque, finished fourth in the 200-m and fifth in the 100-m and 400-m sprints.
In the Alpine events at Red, Stewart Babakaiff claimed gold in the Male Novice Slalom and silver in the Giant Slalom (GS), while Female Novice racer Serena Lapointe flew down the hill to capture silver in the GS and bronze in the slalom, while Sophia Santano won silver in the slalom and bronze in the GS.
In the Male Intermediate category Tim McTeer and Stuart Hawton raced to sixth and seventh place in the GS and fifth and sixth in the slalom respectively.
But the experience was a special one for the athletes, who all gave credit to their coaches and volunteers for making the event possible.
“Thanks to Kurt (Kutcher) and Darrel (Frye) and all the other coaches from skiing for coaching us,” said skier McTeer.
“[And] Ben,” added Lapointe.