VIDEO: Olympic skiier, figure skaters inducted in Lake Cowichan Sports Wall of Fame

In a ceremony on June 10, six former Disney on Ice skaters and and an Olympic skier made the Wall.

Lake Cowichan’s curling lounge was filled with a happy buzz on Saturday, June 10 as everyone waited for the latest inductees to the Sports Wall of Fame to be announced.

2017 was an unusual year because seven people were being honoured and all of them were women, Lake Cowichan Mayor Ross Forrest told the crowd to begin the ceremony.

Sports Wall of Fame

Added to the Wall this year were Olympic freestyle skier Tanya Clarke-Young and a group of six figure skaters. They included Linda Atchison Jakubowski, Jolene Cook Livingston, Shannon Knott McKinlay, Justine Miles, Christine Nash, and Kirsten Nimmo Harkins.

“These women were able, by a lot of hard work and dedication to excellence, were able to reach a high level in their chosen sport,” he said.

“Tanya Clarke-Young had a natural talent, combined with an enthusiasm to be the very best in the world of international skiing. Tanya grew up in Youbou and during her years of international competition, Youbou remained her home base.”

Tanya’s mom, Astrid Notte, introduced her daughter to skiing at the age of six.

“Tanya fell in love with the sport, which led to a passion for freestyle skiing. She competed for 10 years and was a member of the Canadian National Freestyle Skiing Team from 1988-1992,” Forrest said.

She went on to do very well on the international circuit.

“Undoubtedly, her greatest achievement was securing a spot on the Canadian Olympic team for the 1992 Winter Olympic Games in Albertville, France.”

Clarke-Young, in addressing the crowd after receiving her award, said that while it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes the efforts of a whole community to raise an athlete, especially an elite athlete.

She described her proudest moment: entering the Olympic stadium in 1992, wearing her Canadian uniform, and looking around and realizing that all this was happening to a girl from Youbou.”

Forrest then moved on to the group of figure skaters.

“Shortly after the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena was opened, it became a hub of activity and a formative part of the lives of Linda Atchison, now Jakubowski, Jolene Cook, now Livingston, Shannon Knott, now McKinlay, Justine Miles, Christine Nash, and Kirsten Nimmo, now Harkins.

“During the 1970s and 1980s, the girls honed their figure skating and life skills as they learned about hard work, goal setting, dedication, competition, friendship, and volunteerism. They enjoyed teaching young kids to skate through the Canskate program. Their moms also voluntarily woke up early to carpool them to early morning sessions, sometimes in their housecoats, and brought them fried egg sandwiches to nourish them before dropping them off at school. After each training and various coaches, all girls were coached by Nancy and Jan Glerup, who brought their passion for the sport in the 1980s, along with their commitment to excellence.

“Through use of our skating schools and innovative training — Jan invented the jumping harness — they encouraged their students to be the best they could.”

The girls all skated with the Cowichan Valley Precision team, also known as The Golden Girls.

Eventually they followed the example of another Lake Cowichan figure skater and earlier Wall of Fame inductee, Jackie Lamb Cleaves, and auditioned for Disney on Ice.

Every one of them was chosen.

“For a number of years, Lake Cowichan was well known as the largest contributor of professional figure skaters in the Disney on Ice world.”

Among them, the young women travelled all over the world and several had to travel to come to the ceremony. Each one of them received a memorial plaque from one of her parents.

The only one who was unable to make it was Kirsten Nimmo Harkins, but her husband, Todd, general manager of the Prince George Cougars, came to Lake Cowichan to accept it for her.

After an unveiling ceremony in the lobby at the actual Wall of Fame, everyone gathered around to share stories, since some had not seen any of the others for some time, and apparently the gossiping and remembering continued elsewhere on into the night.

Lake Cowichan Gazette