When Ray Huson heads to Austria for the World Winter Games, he will have coached with Special Olympics at every level.
Huson coaches Team B.C. cross country skier will represent Special Olympics Team Canada at the World Winter Games from March 14 to 25.
Huson said getting this opportunity is amazing.
“It’s incredibly exciting. I’ve really been looking forward to it,” said Huson, who works at the Barley Mill Brew Pub. “We’ve been training since we found out about the team selection last March or April. Everybody is working really hard at getting the team ready to go to Austria.”
Huson joins a B.C. crew that includes 15 athletes, eight coaches, and one mission staff member. Canada will be represented by 108 athletes with intellectual disabilities, plus 35 volunteer mission staff and coaches. The World Winter Games is considered one of the world’s largest sporting and humanitarian events and brings together 3,000 athletes and 1,100 coaches from as many as 110 countries.
“Our Team Canada athletes, coaches, and mission staff are well prepared for this year’s World Winter Games,” said Marian Coulson, Chef de Mission for Special Olympics Team Canada. “The passion and skill level of our team is unmatched; we expect great results at these Games and, as always, a lasting impact on communities across the country.”
Huson, who has coached at three National Winter Games (2008 in Quebec City, 2012 in St. Albert, Alta., and 2016 in New Foundland), said working with the athletes is fabulous.
“They amaze me all the time when I’m out with them,” he said. “The dedication and commitment, how much fun they like to have. How excited they get. It really is amazing.”
He has become a better coach from each event and learns more from each Games. Huson, who has helped athletes win countless medals, said he is always trying to improve his skills and pick up pointers from other coaches. It’s about improving himself to help the athletes get better.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing our athletes compete against the best athletes from other countries,” he said.
“I am very proud to be involved in Special Olympics Canada as Honorary Coach,” says Olympic and world champion figure skater Jamie Salé, who will accompany the athletes to Austria. “It is incredible to witness the role of sport in empowering individuals and transforming lives. We encourage all Canadians to rally behind our Special Olympics athletes for these games and to support local programs throughout the year.”
“We are very proud of our Team Canada athletes, staff and coaches,” says Sharon Bollenbach, CEO, Special Olympics Canada. “Our programs reach far beyond just competitions and world class athletes, taking us into communities across the country, enriching the daily lives of over 42,000 Canadians with an intellectual disability (ID), through the transformative power of sport.” Learn more at www.austria2017.org