More Medals for Team BC
B.C.’s para cross country athletes posted impressive results at the Canada Winter Games on Monday, winning two gold and one silver medal.
(At right, Andy Lin, Emily Souchy and Emily Weekes -photo submitted TeamBC)
Revelstoke’s Emily Suchy won gold in the 2.5km sit-ski event. Her teammate Andy Lin of Burnaby also won gold in the 2.5km standing classic para male event. North Vancouver’s Emily Weekes took silver in the 2.5km standing classic para female race.
The gold medal finish was Lin’s best result for a race of this calibre. He’s been competing for four years and has won gold at other events but never at a Canada Winter Games.
“It’s a really big accomplishment,” said Lin. “It felt really good to win gold and I’m pretty proud of myself.”
Lin wasn’t the only skier proud of his result, his teammate and silver medallist Emily Weekes was cheering him on at the course in Prince George.
“I’m really happy for Andy,” she said. “We train together a lot in the lower mainland and we are always supporting each other. We have some little competitions too – I was giving him a hard time today because even though he won the gold in his race, I beat him by 30 seconds in my race so I had to remind him that I kicked his butt a bit.”
National level competition is not a new experience for Weekes, but skiing is. The 24-year-old only strapped on skis for the first time in November. Today she earned a silver medal and stood on the podium as one of Canada’s finest athletes.
Weekes was one of the province’s best wrestlers before an injury sidelined her from the sport. She represented BC in wrestling at the 2007 BC Summer Games and two years later, qualified for the Canada Summer Games.
Just two weeks before competing in the 2009 Canada Summer Games, Weekes suffered an injury that left her with nerve damage in her arm. She taped herself up and competed for Team BC in PEI in 2009, winning a bronze medal.
In the years that followed, Weekes’ injury became progressively worse and she sought out a new sport that would be a little kinder to her body. She competed in triathlons for five years, qualifying for international level events.
“When I started competing in triathlon I could swim with both arms,” she said. “But by the end of 2013 I had to start swimming with one arm and because I had always relied on both arms, that was a really big challenge so I decided it was time to try something new.”
Weekes was recruited to cross country skiing by Jake Weaver, the head coach of the Hollyburn Cross Country ski club and Tony Chin, para-nordic coach of the Nordic Racers.
“I had never even skied alpine when I started cross country,” said Weekes. “I competed internationally in triathlon and wrestling and skiing really isn’t that different. Everything about competing is the same – the mental preparation, the focus, the execution. So it made it easier to move into a new sport because I’ve been involved in sport my whole life.”
Weekes had a feeling she would end up on the podium at the 2015 Canada Winter Games and credits her success with staying relaxed and calm.
“I knew I could come in top three,” she said. “When I crossed the finish line everything felt really good. My game plan was to try not to crash and to have a clean race. It’s a relief and an honour to win a medal.”
With her first national medal under her belt, Weekes is looking ahead to a bright future in the sport. She is also training in para biathlon and is going to focus on improving her ski technique.
“I’m actually doing way better than I expected and I kind of wish I had started this sooner,” she said. “I wrestled for nine years then I did triathlon for five years but I’ve picked up skiing much faster than either of those sports. It’s been really fun and my coaches have been unbelievably supportive.”