Disabled ski team recruits new talent 

Shona Burton joins B.C. Disabled Ski Team

The search for Canada’s future Paralympic stars focused on Whistler last week, with a 2010 Recruitment Camp on Blackcomb over the weekend.

Seven disabled skiers came out, and were assisted by the top coaches in Canada and B.C. They also got a chance to ski alongside Canada’s top disabled athletes including Scott Patterson, Matt Hallet and Brad Lennea.

In addition to time on the slopes, the athletes, who ranged in age from 10 to 30, were given information sessions by Leslie Clarke, the head coach of the Canadian Disabled Ski Team; Phil Chew, the head coach of the B.C. Ski Team; Todd Allison from the Telus Whistler Sports Centre; and Stephane Delisle from 2010 LegaciesNow.

The camp was a success, according to organizers. All of the skiers did well and one skier, 24-year-old Shona Burton, was invited to join the B.C. Disabled Ski Team.

"It is great to see the improvement of the skiers each time they hit the snow," said Chew. "From last camp to this camp the improvement is exponential and I even saw improvement from day to day throughout the camp.

"We see great potential in Shona and over the past few months she has improved to the point that we want her on the B.C. Team."

Burton participated the camp last year, and said it made her want to get more involved in the sport of sit-skiing. She now lives in Whistler.

Before she was injured in a bus crash Burton said she only skied once or twice a year. She says she actually prefers the sit-ski to regular skis, and enjoys the challenge it presents.

"I just wanted to get back into sports, to be active again and to be doing something I love," she said.

Although it’s rare to take on new athletes once a season is underway, the coaches say Burton is a good prospect to make the Paralympics for 2006 and 2010.

For her part, Burton says she has never raced before, but she’s looking forward to the experience. She will get her first chance this weekend at Grouse Mountain in the provincial series.

"I’m not nervous, but I am interested to see what it is all about, and I’m looking forward to the experience," she said.

The Disabled Skiers Association of B.C. and the Whistler Adaptive Ski Program (WASP) worked together with LegaciesNow on Game Plan, a program designed to help disabled athletes reach their goals, now and for 2010.

Based on the success of the camps, WASP is starting a Tuesday training session to help athletes, coaches and officials keep progressing in between camps.

The program was funded by 2010 LegaciesNow with the support of the Delta Whistler Resort Hotel, the Coast Whistler Hotel and Whistler-Blackcomb.

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