This time last year, Logan Leach figured making Canada’s Olympic ski team wasn’t in the cards for him.
But what a difference a year can make.
Last week, the 18-year-old athlete from Lumby was officially nominated to Alpine Canada’s Para-Alpine roster, which puts him near the starting gates for a trip to the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Beijing and other opportunities to represent Canada internationally.
“It was a huge surprise and it’s really amazing,” he said of the announcement.
“There’s still a lot of work to do to even get (to the Paralympics) let alone do well there, but it’s really exciting.
Leach, who is visually impaired, has worked his way through the BC Adaptive Snowsports athlete development pathway. During the pandemic, he’s been able to join the national ski team at camps and events in B.C., turning COVID months filled with cancelled race dates into high-performance training experience.
Becoming a part of the national para-alpine ski team along with his guide, Julien Petit, seemed unimaginable to Leach when he considered the impacts of the pandemic on athletes’ ski seasons across the country, including his own.
“I haven’t done a single race since the 2019/20 season,” he explained. “A lot of stuff got cancelled and rescheduled.”
For instance, he was recently invited to Germany for a weeks long training camp to help athletes catch up on missed events, when the event was cancelled a day before his flight departure.
“All of the races in Canada were cancelled and travelling to U.S. wasn’t really something we were going to do, so we haven’t been able to race at all for over a year now,” he said.
“As ski racers that’s kind of an issue but especially coming into the Olympics next year. We need to qualify, we need to get points, but when you can’t compete, it definitely was a little hectic.”
Leach got his start in skiing more than 10 years ago with the Silver Star Adaptive Snow Sports program.
The list of people Leach would like to thank for their role in his success to date is too long to mention in full: it starts with his parents — “who have always believed in me” — and expands to include his entire hometown of Lumby, who came out in scores to a fundraising event to support his athletic dreams.
Anna Carter, his EA/braillist at Charles Bloom Secondary, organized the 2019 fundraiser to help cover the huge costs Leach and his guide needed to go to a national prospects camp.
“It allowed me to get through the last season financially, because without that support it would have been very difficult,” Leach said. “A couple hundred people came to this fundraiser and supported me, which is amazing.”
The national teams will spend the spring and summer months training in preparation for the next World Cup season, Alpine Canada said in a press release June 4.
Whistler’s Canadian Sport Institute Pacific is home to Canada’s Para-Alpine Ski Team, while the Canadian Alpine Ski Team relies heavily on the main institute in Calgary, with athletes training in their home provinces over the summer.