Kelowna alpine skier will be racing on familiar terrain

Four years after a downhill skiing accident took her away from the sport she loves, 13-year-old Cassidy Tomlin will be one of seven young athletes to represent Kelowna in alpine skiing at the International Children’s Winter Games next week.

“I am really excited about skiing in the Games and meeting other athletes from all over the world,” said Tomlin.

He will compete in the Giant Slalom event—a timed downhill race that pushes skiers to their limit as they weave in and out of stationary gates.

The course will be set up at Big White, a mountain Tomlin knows well, having skied there since she was seven-years-old.

Big White is also the mountain where Tomlin suffered a full fracture of her leg—an injury that left her in a cast for 13 weeks and with more than a little anxiety about her future in skiing.

“In 2007 I was coming down the exhibition run, it was a foggy day with flat light and I crashed,” explained Tomlin.

“My skis didn’t release and I knew that I’d hurt my leg pretty bad. I tried to keep skiing on it but I couldn’t.”

It took a year before Tomlin was ready to snap into her bindings again.

Her dad Ian remembers the day well.

“We were up at Lake Louise and Cassidy was struggling so much,” said Tomlin.

“She was only nine when she crashed and it left her feeling shaky about skiing. She has come a long way and her recovery has been great.”

Tomlin and her six teammates have been training together four times a week since they were selected to represent the City of Kelowna in the international event.

Though they are all experienced skiers, Tomlin said her coach, Wade Christie, has taught them a lot.

“I’ve learned some really good techniques from the training and I’ve been able to add it on to the things I already know —things like keeping my edges up and my pole plant forward have really improved my skiing.”

Tomlin has put her crash in the past but occasionally has moments of fear before a race.

“If I am feeling a bit anxious I try not to think about it but try to stay positive and just tell myself ‘you can do it.’”

When it comes to race day, she thinks Team Kelowna might have a slight advantage over some of the other skiers who come from cities such as Innsbruck, Montreux, and Maroondah.

“We have had the opportunity to train at Big White and we are so comfortable with the mountain and the conditions —we are used to dealing with fog and I think that will give us a bit of an edge.”

Regardless of the outcome of the Giant Slalom competition, Tomlin is excited about her role in the Games.

The opening ceremonies take place on Thursday, Jan. 27, from 6 to 9 p.m., at Prospera Place and the Alpine Skiing events get underway at Big White on Friday, Jan. 28, at 10 a.m.

Admission to all International Children’s Winter Games events is free.

For event information, go online to: www.kelowna2011.com.

This column is contributed by Christine Ulmer.

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