by Mike Fairhart
Special to The Pioneer
Invermere Special Olympics athletes Marlow Feldmann and Brandon Cote captured three medals each in alpine skiing events at the B.C. Special Olympics Provincial Winter Games held Thursday, February 19th to Saturday, February 21st in Kamloops. Marlow won silver medals in womens slalom, giant slalom and super G with Brandon, one of the youngest competitors at the event, capturing bronze medals in the same events in the mens category.
More than 50 competitors participated in the alpine skiing events held at Sun Peaks. This years games featured more than 700 athletes from communities across British Columbia. In addition to alpine skiing, the games included cross country skiing, snow shoeing, curling, floor hockey, figure skating and speed skating.
Marlow and Brandon were members of the Region One team which included athletes from across the East and West Kootenay regions. Both athletes qualified for the provincial Special Olympics Winter Games based on their results at last years regional qualifying event held in Kelowna.
Arriving back in Invermere on the afternoon of Sunday, February 22nd, Marlow was all smiles, clearly proud of the silver medals hanging around her neck. It was so exciting and lots of fun to attend the games, Marlow said as she stepped off the team bus.
These results are quite impressive considering it is only the second competitive race for our athletes, said Invermere coach Derek Porter. Both Brandon and Marlow have trained extremely hard the past two seasons in preparation for the games.
The Invermere racers train most Sunday afternoons at Panorama. We focused our training on negotiating the different types of courses that would challenge our racers, added Mr. Porter. Their speed and skill levels have increased tremendously.
It was so exciting and we are proud to have been a part of this event said parent Karen Cote, who attended the event to cheer on the local racers along with Betti-Jean and Fritz Feldmann. It was a phenomenal and positive experience for Brandon and Marlow especially considering it was only their second race.
In addition to the outstanding performance by the local athletes, the parents noted the tremendous job done by the team of hard working volunteers tasked with staging the games. From the opening ceremonies to the races and social events, the professionalism of the games was remarkable. Coming from a small community it was incredible to be part of this province-wide event.
In the coming weeks the local athletes will learn if their performance have earned a spot on the B.C. team for the National Special Olympics Winter Games being held next year in Corner Brook, Newfoundland.
The local Special Olympics committee wishes to acknowledge the tremendous community support it receives from its dedicated team of volunteers, Panorama Mountain Village and Team Panorama for use of equipment. Financial assistance was also provided through the District of Invermeres Grant in Aid program to assist with the cost of sending our athletes to the games.
Special Olympics is an international organization that provides sports training and competitive opportunities for persons with intellectual disabilities. The organization is recognized by Sport Canada as the main provider of these services to people whose primary diagnosis is an intellectual disability, although some participants also have physical challenges. More than 4,000 athletes participate in Special Olympics B.C. sports programs in 55 communities across British Columbia.