SNOWSHOE MAGAZINE FEATURED ARTICLE:

Special Olympics Snowshoer Prepares to Take on the World

In February 2009, approximately 3000 athletes from around the world will gather in Boise, Idaho to compete in the Special Olympics World Winter Games. Held every 4 years, the World Games are an opportunity for athletes to showcase their athletic skills, sportsmanship and perhaps most of all, their indomitable spirits. British Columbia Special Olympics athlete Bridget Colvin is one of 18 Canadian snowshoe athletes who has progressed through regional, provincial and national competitions to win a coveted spot on Team Canada, and she couldn’t be more excited.

Special Olympics are for athletes of all ages with intellectual disabilities, and while athletes in Canada and the U.S. have been snowshoeing competitively for many years, the sport was first introduced internationally at the 1997 Special Olympics World Games in Toronto. Today over 17,000 Special Olympics athletes worldwide compete in snowshoeing. Bridget will face intense competition in Boise as she is pitted against the world’s best Special Olympics snowshoers.

At 23 years old, Bridget’s commitment to Special Olympics and the sport of snowshoeing is a story of hard work and sheer determination. Bridget first became involved with Special Olympics as a shy 13-year-old who hid behind her mother at the first practise, hoping she wouldn’t be noticed. It’s hard to believe this is the same determined young woman who now competes in several sports, wins medals and socializes with her teammates at training camp. Despite her high level of athletic commitment, Bridget manages to keep things in perspective. One of the best things for her about participating in snowshoeing and other Special Olympics events is the confidence she has developed and the new friends she has made.

Bridget is reluctant to select a favourite Special Olympics sport, and in fact one of her core strengths could simply be that she is a committed all-around athlete who has developed skills in several areas. It’s no secret that cross-training is a powerful tool to improve overall performance, and Bridget’s training strategy incorporates bicycling, swimming, weight training, track work and gym circuits. During the winter months, Bridget has weekly snowshoe practises on Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver. It’s worth noting that Bridget’s hometown is Burnaby, British Columbia which is, for most of the winter, an hour’s drive from the snow. It usually just isn’t possible for her to put on her snowshoes and slip out the back door for an after-work run. Hence the benefits of a cross-training routine.

If Bridget has a secret weapon, it could be her training diary. Working with Special Olympics coaches and her parents Debra and Paul Colvin, Bridget trains 6 days most weeks and diligently records her daily performance in a diary. It’s a way to stay focussed and measure progress that Bridget finds works well for her.

One of the first things you notice about Bridget Colvin is her warm and friendly smile. It intensifies noticeably when she speaks about her spot on Team Canada and the upcoming World Games. Bridget is proud of the medals she won last winter at Special Olympics Canada’s National Winter Games, and is quietly optimistic about her chances in Boise. But whatever the results in Boise, Bridget Colvin will come home knowing that she trained as hard as possible and truly earned the right to represent her country on the world stage.

The Special Olympics World Winter Games will be held in Boise, Idaho from February 6 to 13, 2009. To learn about volunteering, donating or participating in Special Olympics, visit the following websites:

Special Olympics Canada: www.specialolympics.ca

Special Olympics US: www.specialolympics.org