The Canada Winter Games for Special Olympics will be held next week in Thunder Bay, Ont.
Athletes from across the country will compete in eight events: alpine skiing, floor hockey, figure skating, curling, speedskating, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and five-pin bowling.
Anxiously awaiting the figure skating competition is Kingston’s Sarah Ryan.
“I’m so excited. This is my first time competing at a level like this,” said Ryan.
The 15-year-old member of the Kingston Silver Blades was impressive at the Ontario championships last year in Sault Ste. Marie. Qualifying for the Canada Games did not come as a surprise to her coach Nancy Brennan.
“Sarah is so dedicated and talented,” said Brennan, who’s been coaching children and young adults for more than 50 years.
The longtime mentor at the Kingston Skating Club says Ryan has worked extremely hard to get to this point.
“The training is very difficult,” said Brennan.
“Most Special Olympic skaters will take to the ice once or twice a week. Sarah trains at least five days a week. She also does some off-ice training to help with her stamina. I love dealing with someone who’s special. She looks at things differently and she’s a breath of fresh air. She really does excel at this level of skating. I’m very proud of what she’s been able to accomplish.”
Ryan is proud of what she’s accomplished as well.
“I started skating on a pond in Sharbot Lake when I was really young and I haven’t stopped skating,” laughed the shy teenager, whose mother was a figure skater as well.
“Nancy has been a great coach. She makes time for everyone on the team, but especially for me. She’s so much fun to be around. I’m glad she’s going with me to Thunder Bay.”
The opening ceremony is Tuesday at the Fort William Community Gardens.