Once again, valley skiers have done this area proud.
In striking gold in France and Russia, Jan Hudec and Devon Kershaw have aptly shown the drive, determination and character required by amateur athletes to reach the elite realms of their respective sports.
At times Hudec, who has suffered through many injuries, surgeries and bouts of rehabilitation, must have seriously considered throwing in the towel. Clearly, though, despite the fact that this season he’s had to pay his own way, funding-wise, and had a last minute boost from Banff’s Grizzly House Restaurant to compete in the Lake Louise World Cup, Hudec has shown his competitive fire can’t be doused.
And, at this time of year, when professional NHL hockey gets all the headlines and top broadcast spots and all the talk relates to which coddled millionaire player may be traded for more millions to another team to satisfy the needs of its billionaire owner, the idea of amateur athletes competing more or less for the sake of competing, along with camaraderie and national pride is truly refreshing.
As can be seen in Hudec’s case, amateur athletes, even those who compete at the highest levels, not only don’t have a pot of gold awaiting them down the road, even their year-to-year funding is not written in stone.
And whereas NHLers are paid their millions whether they’re hurt, setting records for lack of scoring, or boast sinking +/- stats, amateur athletes like our local skiers pretty much plug along on minimal funding – but still with the expectation to produce, as our skiers have done this season.
From a selfish point of view, here at the Outlook, we appreciate the fact that, even when in Europe where hockey doesn’t dominate all sports media, and thousands of fans actually attend races (unlike here in Canada where pro sports are king), athletes like Hudec and Kershaw still take the time to make time for the community newspaper that has followed their exploits all along.
Finally, athletes like Kershaw and Hudec, along with other top amateur athletes in the valley, are good role models for the many youngsters who are looking to make their way along similar sports career paths. Athletes like these show that not all sport is about winning the big bucks lottery by making it to the professional ranks.
These are the type of athletes that youngsters, like the hundreds who will attend the 2014 Alberta Winter Games in our communities, can look up to when they’re spending hours sweating out training sessions.
All this leads us to point out that this weekend’s IBU Cup (International Biathlon Union) event at the Canmore Nordic Centre, the first to be held in North America, will see many amateur biathletes who have the same drive and determination competing.
The event will offer a look at top-ranked IBU and World Cup competitors, possibly future Canadian Olympians, and is just one of many entertaining events slated for this weekend throughout the valley.
This weekend, if you can’t find something to fill your time, you’re just not trying hard enough. From the beautiful (ice carving) to the athletic (biathlon) to the historic (Halifax Highlanders in Banff) to family fun (Kid ‘n’ Mutt races), a vast array of entertaining possibilities exists – the array of which often attract and then keep people calling our valley home.