Snow Leopard to stay in Pemberton during Olympics 

Drumkeeran House offers Ghana skier free accommodation

When he is not racing or partaking in other Olympic events, the Ghanaian skier who goes by the nickname "Snow Leopard" will be resting in Pemberton during the 2010 Winter Olympics.

This week Kwame "The Snow Leopard" Nkrumah-Acheampong's ski team announced they have been offered a free stay at the luxurious Drumkeeran House on Ivey Lake.

"We were very surprised," said Nkrumah-Acheampong on a cell phone call Tuesday from Mount Washington about the housing offer.

"I think it is really great that some people can be so generous. On behalf of myself and my team, I can only say a big thank you."

Last month, the Snow Leopard's team was having such a hard time finding accommodation in Whistler for the 2010 Winter Olympics that they made an announcement on CBC radio. They also posted an "SOS Accommodation for Whistler" on their website.

As luck would have it, the owner of the Drumkeeran House in Pemberton heard their plea and offered them a place to stay for the duration of the Games.

According to Richard Harpham, Nkrumah-Acheampong's manager, an American family was originally supposed to stay at the Drumkeeran House, but their plans fell through at the last minute.

After offering him the house this month, owner David Linney told Harpham that maybe the Snow Leopard was meant to stay in his estate, which is modeled after a Celtic country house.

"If you look at their website, the location they have given us is really, really nice," said Nkrumah-Acheampong, who has never been to Pemberton before.

Nkrumah-Acheampong will stay at the six-bedroom house with his father, mother, wife, daughter and in-laws. There, they will have access to 700 feet of waterfront, a private dock, and other amenities found at the five-star private estate.

Coming from a country with no snow, and only learning to ski five years ago, the Snow Leopard has attracted a slew of media attention over the past year with his plans to compete in the Winter Olympics. Media covering his story include ESPN, Time Magazine and BBC News.

According to his manager, Nkrumah-Acheampong's journey to the Olympics has been "under funded," and it is through the generosity of others like Linney that he has able to achieve his goals.

"Obviously, we haven't had a pound or shilling from the Ghana government at this point, so it is people power, really," said Harpham.

To train for the Games, the Snow Leopard spent the winter season at Mount Washington, courtesy of the Comox Valley community. Everywhere he goes in the ski resort he is surrounded by people wishing him good luck, said Harpham.

"We didn't have a training camp, so Mount Washington and the people of Comox Valley basically paid for our accommodation and the ski resort gave us passes," said Harpham.

"He inspires people, and the Olympics should be about sprinkling magic. We have that magic."

The Snow Leopard's six-person ski team will make their way from Vancouver Island to Pemberton this week, stopping in Coquitlam on Thursday for a reception at the Ghana Canada Association.

Once in Pemberton, Harpham said they hope to get to know the community well.

That sentiment is shared by the Pemberton community.

"We are thrilled that Pemberton will be host to these very special visitors," Tracey Rozsypalek, Tourism Pemberton's chair, said in a press release. "We look forward to welcoming them to our community and including them in our Olympic festivities."

Among the activities already planned for the Snow Leopard's stay in Pemberton are talks to local students and attending Pemberton's Winterfest events.

Nkrumah-Acheampong has qualified to ski in the men's slalom and giant slalom during the Winter Games.



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