Special Olympics BC – Golden coach Sue Rowe enjoys sharing her passion for cross country skiing and the outdoors with SOBC athletes.
The Head Coach of her Local’s cross country skiing program, Rowe loves how the sport encourages participants to spend time outside, get great exercise, and experience beautiful local landscapes. She has had many memorable moments with SOBC athletes on the trails, and says it’s been great to see athletes develop their skills and have fun in the snow.
Rowe says Golden is a paradise for alpine and cross country skiing, and this presents athletes with amazing opportunities to be active. She says people in the town are very proud and supportive of SOBC – Golden athletes, and there are many great volunteers in her Local.
When did you start with Special Olympics, and how did you get involved?
A long, long time ago, I worked with folks with developmental disabilities, and got to know them in the community. I helped a bit with the SOBC – Golden cross country skiing program when it got started, but was away for long periods of time and lost contact. When one of our local athletes returned from the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in the Republic of Korea as a hometown hero with gold medals, it was time to get back in and try to help others work towards a similar achievement. It really showed how Special Olympics sports can change a person's life.
What has been your most memorable Special Olympics experience?
I have lots of small memories rather than one big one. Recently, an athlete and I skied down a long hill where she normally finds it hard to maintain speed and control. With the right snow conditions and her having strengthened her legs and skills, she was really pleased to get down without crashing! Also recently, another athlete who didn't seem to have the upper body strength to get himself up from a fall unaided showed me he can – easily!
I get to watch a young athlete disappear into the distance because he can now ski so much faster than I can. (He always comes back!) When there was a fresh, deep snowfall, the whole team made it down a hill that's usually too steep for most skiers, and followed it up with jumping and knocking snow off trees and onto coaches. Sometimes when I take athletes up to Dawn Mountain Chalet, they are busier chatting with friends and acquaintances there than I am, and I've been skiing in Golden for 35 years. Last year, at a camp, athletes from around the province had a grand time playing games and remaking friendships.
What is your favourite thing about being involved with SOBC?
My favourite things about Special Olympics skiing are sharing my own love of the sport, watching athletes show everyone that they can do better than their previous best, and seeing them enjoy themselves in the snow. The positive feedback they give doesn't hurt, nor does the opportunity to work with some very active volunteers. SOBC provides really useful sport camps too, and I get to yell quite a bit: instructions, encouragement, positive feedback, delight, etc.
What would you like others to know about SOBC – Golden?
Golden is a small town with a lot going on. Having great mountains and great ski facilities –alpine at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and cross country at the Dawn Mountain Nordic Centre – makes a big contribution to that activity level. We have Special Olympics swimming, golf, bowling, cross country skiing, alpine skiing, and, new this winter, snowshoeing. The Golden Nordic Ski Club has pretty much adopted the SOBC – Golden program, with special rates for membership and rentals and an integral part in the Huckleberry Loppet: the club's big race. The town also seems to have attracted a significant number of really good skiers and early retirees in recent years, and they make great volunteers. Special Olympics achievements and activities are celebrated and supported throughout the community. We may not have all the services for folks with intellectual disabilities that a large centre would have, but we have pretty much all the small-town advantages.