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Column: Lily Brook, Kaden Baum representing Larch Hills at Canada Winter Games

Trail Tales by Marcia Beckner
Kaden Baum, Lily Brook and coach Donna Flatman will be representing Larch Hills when they compete in the Canada Winter Games in Charlottetown, PEI. The Games run Feb. 18 to March 5. (Contributed)

By Marcia Beckner

Special to the Observer

Great excitement for a couple of Larch Hills Nordics skiers as they prepare to head to the Canada Winter Games in Charlottetown, PEI this weekend.

Paranordic skiers Kaden Baum, 16, in Grade 11, and Lily Brook, 18, in Grade 12, will be competing in the sit-ski competition with many years of training and competition under their belts.

The Canada Games run two weeks, with some sports the first week and some in the second, and will have completed their first week by the time Kaden, Lily, and their coach Donna Flatman arrive. It will be a great opportunity for these two athletes to compete on the national stage, meet other sit skiers from across Canada, and tour around PEI on their days off.

Kaden and Lily came to sit skiing from very different backgrounds. Lily was quite the athlete as a child, competing in various sports. At age 12, Lily came down with a condition called osteochondritis which affected her leg bones, so she can no longer walk. That did not hold this athlete down – she competes in wheelchair boxing and wheelchair basketball.

When one of her teachers told her about sit skiing with coaches from the Larch Hills, Lily was keen and got on it.

Kaden was born with spina bifida, a defect of the spine which causes partial or complete paralysis of the lower limbs. Donna Flatman had gone to Kaden’s elementary school, Ranchero, to give movement classes, and Kaden was chosen as the test person. Shortly after that, Donna took the Athletes With Disability coaching course with Sheila Corbett and Abbi May. Donna took up sit ski coaching Kaden and Lily, whose families are super supportive.

Kaden is in his sixth year sit skiing, and Lily in her fourth. They train with Donna 2-3 times per week on the Larch Hills trails. Practices consist of fine tuning double poling technique, and tackling hills - of which we have many in our trail system.

I can’t imagine going up Arwen’s Dream or Metford Road double poling only. Yet that is what these two do. In fact, Kaden goes up and over Camel’s Hump. Gotta have a strong upper body for that! Sit skis don’t have brakes but both Lily and Kaden are fearless in going down Hot Shot, Stig’s Loop and Camel’s Hump. The hills in the Larch Hills are too big for paranordic competition so Kaden and Likely have an advantage having trained on ours.

Sit ski equipment is ergonomically efficient. A chair on skis is basically what it is. Then add a pair of short poles. The athlete has to perfect the skill of balancing while poling, and while “outrigging”– reaching out when cornering. Kaden, with his long, strong arms has an advantage. Lily, with shorter arms, has to outrigger more. Both sit skis are stored on the hill for easy access by these two.

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Lily and Kaden are dedicated and disciplined athletes who will do well representing B.C. and the Larch Hills at the Canada Winter Games. They will be competing in the 2.5-km, 5-km, and 700-m sprint events. Then they will take part in the closing ceremonies of the Games – always a highlight!

The Canada Winter Games began in 1967 as a celebration of Canada’s 100th anniversary. Different to national championships in the various sports, the Canada Games – both winter and summer – are multi-discipline events, bringing together athletes from many sports. I was among the fortunate athletes competing in the first Canada Winter Games in Quebec City in February, 1967, in speedskating. It was a wonderful experience – much smaller then, so we participated in both the opening and closing ceremonies. We had the opportunity to watch and meet other athletes in other disciplines.

Some say the Canada Games is a stepping stone to the Olympics. Its my case it was indeed, as I found myself at the 1968 Grenoble Olympics, along with a number of other speedsters who competed in the Canada Games.

We will be cheering on Kaden and Lily, and their coach Donna, as they compete February 26th to March 5th at the Canada Winter Games in PEI. Go K & L!!
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