Special Olympics BC held a virtual snowshoe race due to COVID and the winners were announced on Mar. 31 in a virtual ceremony.
Special Olympics BC usually provides competition opportunities for local athletes developmental disabilities, every year. Last year, the Special Olympics Snowshoe competition was held in Burns Lake at the Omineca Ski Club on Feb. 1 however, after that event, everything was shut down or modified due to COVID.
“It is important to provide competition opportunities within each sport for all our athletes, whether that is locally, regionally (Burns Lake to Prince Rupert) or on a provincial level. Due to COVID, we needed to be creative to provide that,” said Tina Giesbrecht, the coach with the Special Olympics BC Burns Lake group.
“What we did was approach Special Olympics BC about doing a virtual race for our snowshoers. This was open to all the provincial locals running snowshoe programs,” she said.
Snowshoers, not just from Burns Lake, but from Vernon, Quesnel, Prince George, and Smithers, participated by having their athletes complete races in their own town and submit the athlete’s times to Special Olympics BC.
“This was difficult for our athletes as they didn’t have that race excitement they get from competing against other athletes and they did not have spectators to cheer them on. But in true Special Olympics style, the race went on, the athletes had fun, they tried their best and there was a positive culmination to their hard work and practices,” said Giesbrecht.
The two athletes who participated from Burns Lake, Danny Tress and Josh Waters, did their races over two weeks. Some of those races were at the Lakes District Secondary School high school field and some out at the Omineca Ski club. Both, Waters and Tress earned ribbons in the 50m, 100m, 200m, and 400m events (first, second or third).
Earlier in February, the Special Olympics BC Burns Lake group had started practicing for the season. Tress and Waters were both seen doing some hill running, quick starts, sprints and running through the finish line. They also got to try other equipment with volunteer Chris Paulson.
Normally each local group has many more participants but due to COVID restrictions each group was allowed only two or three participants. This year, a total of 12 athletes from the five local groups had participated in the virtual snowshoe race.