(The logo for the Special Olympics World Winter Games 2022 to be held in Kazan, Russia, was unveiled via projection onto the Kazan Kremlin, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Goulbourn Skating Club’s Special Olympics skaters will be competing at the games as part of Team Canada. Photo: Special Olympics)
The team skating roster for the 2022 Special Olympics World Winter Games to be held in Kazan, Russia was recently announced. Coach Cathy Skinner excitedly shared with us, “four of the Goulbourn Skating Club’s Special Olympians have been selected to represent Canada at the January 16-20, 2022 competition”.
Initially only gold medalists had been chosen for Team Canada confirming Michael Raytchev, Katie Xu and Sarah Ryan as members of the team. Sarah is a member of Skate Kingston and has been a guest skater with the Goulbourn Skating Club since the summer. Jack Fan, a second place Singles skater at the Canadian Nationals, was named to the team this past week when Team Canada expanded their numbers for representatives. The team would not be complete without the leadership of their coach, Cathy Skinner, has also been named a Special Olympic Team Canada Coach and will also be travelling to Russia.
Team members are excited at the news and are already planning for the trip working out practice sessions and with hotel reservations to be made. The event is open to the public, but for these World Winter Games, only parents of the Club’s skaters will be in attendance due to the several health protocols in place to keep all participants safe.
We asked Cathy how have the team members been effected by the COVID restrictions for routine practices and training. She told us, “It’s been crazy! Constantly changing schedules and now that we are back in red, less training time on the ice is available. There is no consistency, which makes it especially difficult for these special needs athletes. But we have to be happy that they have at least been able to partially continue their training through this past year, due to them also being members of Skate Canada – since most of the Special Olympic programs have been cancelled, so many athletes in other sports have had no organized sessions”.
The restrictions do pose a problem for future Special Olympics Canada competitions in 2021 as no events can be planned. Cathy shared, “we can only hope the vaccines create some positive changes and permit our skaters to be able to train more consistently and also participate in some competitions. Normally by now they would have already had a training camp which obviously couldn’t happen due to COVID. Special Olympics Canada is hoping for another virtual camp and then hopefully in November/early December have an in-person training camp for all the athletes and coaches”.
Cathy says of the opportunity of taking our local skaters to the Special Olympic World Winter Games, “It is really exciting being able to plan and prepare to go to Russia next year with four of my athletes. Since they have not had any competitions since March of last year when Nationals wrapped up right before the shutdown, it gives us a definite goal to strive for. With all the negativity this pandemic has created with all the restrictions, lockdowns, etc. – this is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel for us, knowing the end is in sight!
We certainly appreciate the hard work by these four Stittsville Special Olympians to make the team and wish them the best of luck as we watch and cheer from back home.