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A Golden Trip to the Canada Winter Games

In our February/March issue of Our Canada, Valerie Pitman wrote in about her twin boys and their snowboard-cross abilities in “Two Boarding Passes to Stardom.” Tommy made it into the Canada Winter Games in Halifax and Valerie updates us on the family’s adventures.

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Along for the Ride

Along for the Ride

Halifax in February is probably not everyone’s dream vacation destination or season. I could think of a few warmer, more enticing places to be, but there we were standing at the side of a snowboard-cross track wearing almost every piece of winter clothing we had been able to fit into our 50 lb. suitcases. We came from Trail B.C. to support our seventeen year-old son Tommy, who was one of the two British Columbia males chosen to compete in the snowboard-cross event at the Canada Winter Games.

It was not only Tommy, but his twin brother Mitch, who had been mentally and physically preparing for the competition.  Mitch, chosen as the alternate, was told only a few weeks before the games that he would not be competing. Excitement turned to disappointment and a heart-wrenching bittersweet emotion – especially for me. My twin boys, for the first time, were not able to compete together in the sport they adore and share. With some hesitation and organizational planning, the decision was made that we would all go to Halifax. Our daughter, Jessica, on Reading Break from the University of Victoria, was able to join the rest of us for what was now a family event.

We had no idea this trip would require us to pull together as a family and rely on all of our combined strengths to ride the ups and downs Halifax had in store. Our first disappointment arrived when our internet-arranged rental house accommodation was not what we’d hoped for. Thankfully our luck turned when we found alternate lodging: The Cambridge Suites had a room and the location was perfect, as it was minutes away from the Athlete’s Village and close to many tourist attractions.

So the week was almost over and the event we had come all this way to see was happening! As we watched Tommy’s first run and listened for his time to be announced, Len and I were a bit puzzled with his qualifying time. Mitch informed us that Tommy had likely stumbled, as his time was not at all what we were expecting. Anxiousness overcame me as I explained the rules of snowboard-cross to friends Sherry and Joe Apaloo who had driven from Antigonish to be part of our support team.  I hoped his time was fast enough to get him into the heats. As he came into the finish for his second run, I relaxed when I heard his time. Second fastest!

Tommy thrilled us all as he came first in each of his heats: quarter-final, semi-final and final heat. I have never seen such a big smile on Tommy’s face as he crossed that finish line!  Tommy’s Grandad, Harvey Pitman, had also traveled from St. John’s, Newfoundland to watch the event. After standing in the snow for many hours that day, he announced that it was all worth it to be there to see his grandson achieve such success! After congratulating Tommy, my first phone call was to his Grannie and Nonno, Beth and Raz Truant, who were anxiously awaiting news of the day’s event back in Trail, B.C.

We have never been so proud of our three children: Tommy for performing so well in the games, Mitch for being such a good sport and supporting his brother, and Jessica for being there for both of her brothers – especially on a trip spent in Halifax in the middle of winter!

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Snowboard Cross

Snowboard Cross

The Canada Winter Games offered many sports to watch, but our time was spent mostly at the Martock Ski Hill. We watched three days of snowboarding events: Parallel Giant Slalom, Half-pipe, and the main reason we were there…the Snowboard-cross! During one of my warming breaks in the lodge at Martock, I happened to sit beside the mothers of two local snowboard-cross and parallel giant slalom athletes. Nancy Drapeau warmly welcomed me to Halifax, introduced me to her son Joshua and teammate Emma MacAulay, and filled me in on the location of the track and how to get the best view. We bonded over being  “snowboard moms.”

Tommy is in blue pants, concentrating on one of many turns in the exciting sport of Snowboard Cross.

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Lobster Dinner

Lobster Dinner

“Since we had flown coast to coast from Vancouver to Halifax, we wanted to take in a few traditional maritime activities, too. We decided that the priorities for our short stay were visiting Peggy’s Cove, the Halifax Citadel, and the Maritime Museum. Our spacious Enterprise rental van took us many miles to see the sites and was a warm place to recover from the chilly winds. Our east coast experience would not be complete without eating the wonderful Atlantic seafood…including an experience at Murphy’s Cable Wharf Restaurant where Tommy and Mitch each caught their own lobster that was then prepared for their dinner! Jessica was happy to keep herself at a comfortable distance from the moving creatures and choose an entrée that was less interactive!”

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Ups and Downs

Ups and Downs

“As I think back to our Canada Winter Games adventure, I can only compare it to a ride on a boarder-cross track…many ups and downs and challenges to overcome; Nevertheless, everything turned out great and our whole family had a chance to come together in support one member.  This is what family is all about.”