AWARD FOR BEST GAMES DEBUT
viviane forest, para alpine skiing
Viviane was born in Montreal, Quebec but now calls Edmonton, Alberta home. As a member of the Canadian Association for Disabled Skiing (CADS) Edmonton, Viviane completed only one year of competition on the Canadian and North American skiing circuit with the Para-Alpine Canadian Development Team before she was invited to join Team Canada in 2008 Viviane had two excellent seasons in 2009 and 2010. On the 2009 IPC World Cup circuit, she won the season overall Crystal Globe in the ladies visual impaired category. In 2010, Viviane had a goal to reach the podium to be one of the first women to earn gold medals at both the Summer and Winter Paralympic Games. Viviane had a stellar performance in Vancouver as she won one gold, three silver, and one bronze medals. With only 4% vision, Viviane is led down the slopes by her guide Lindsay Debou at speeds over 100 km/hr. Viviane is a well-rounded athlete and has already won two Paralympic Summer Games gold medals in the sport of goalball in the 2000 Sydney Games and 2004 Athens Games. Viviane retired from goalball in 2005.
Lindsay Debou, guide
Lindsay, who was born in North Vancouver, began skiing in Whistler when she was three years old and later became a member of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club. She started alpine racing in the early 1990s and in 2001 decided to pursue other interests, such as travelling the world to places such as Australia and New Zealand. Upon her return she completed her degree in psychology at the University of Victoria in 2006 and plans to pursue a Masters of Education in counselling psychology. In 2009, Lindsay joined the Canadian Para-Alpine Alpine Ski Team as a guide for an athlete with a visual impairment and immediately fell in love with this new role in ski racing. The Debou- Forest team reached an impressive five medals (1 gold, 3 silver, 1 bronze) at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.
AWARD FOR BEST MALE ATHLETE
BRIAN MCKEEVER, para nordic skiing
Seven-time Paralympic gold medalist in cross-country skiing, Brian McKeever started the sport when he was three years old. By 12, he was racing competitively alongside older brother Robin. In 1997, Brian represented Canada in his first major competition at the Junior World Championships in Pontresina, Switzerland. A year later, Brian was diagnosed with Stargaard's disease, macular degeneration or loss of central vision, "I see the doughnut but not the timbit," Brian jokes. Soon after, Cross-country Canada coach Kaspar Wirz introduced Brian to Para- Nordic skiing and brother, Robin, an Olympian who competed at the Nagano 1998 Olympic Winter Games, took the role as Brian's guide.
In the 2002 Salt Lake City Paralympic Winter Games, the McKeever brothers team won two gold medals and one silver, followed by another two gold, one silver, and one bronze medal in 2006 in Torino. Brian went into the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games with an objective to win three gold medals. Mission accomplished, as Brian won his third gold medal on the last day of competition of the Paralympic Games. To get more racing experience, Brian also competes in able-bodied competition. With no more than 10% vision, Brian thoroughly inspects the course and commits it to memory before a race. In 2005 Brian was the Canadian National Champion, and in 2007 he qualified for the able bodied World Championships, finishing with the top Canadian result.
At Vancouver 2010, Brian was the first winter athlete to ever be named on both the Paralympic and Olympic teams in a same Winter Games. His current goal is to be the first Canadian athlete to compete in both the Paralympic and Olympic Games in Sochi 2014. Brian is committed to promoting Paralympic sport and physical activity in youth. He is a regular speaker, and volunteer at community events and family ski days where he teaches children skiing. He is also involved in the CPC's Hero speaker bureau and an ambassador for the international sport organization, Right to Play.
Robin McKeever, Guide
Native of Canmore, Alberta, Robin McKeever is a Paralympian, Olympian, and eleven-time able-bodied Canadian national champion in cross-country skiing. Robin's competitive career began in 1987, and he went on to compete in 15 Canadian National Championships and represent Canada in the Nagano 1998 Winter Olympic Games as the role as the sighted guide for his brother, Brian. Robin officially started guiding Brian at the Salt Lake IPC World Cup final in March 2001.
Together the McKeever brothers won two gold medals and one silver medal at the Salt Lake City 2002 Paralympic Winter Games. At the Torino 2006 Paralympic Winter Games, the duo won two gold medals and one silver medal in cross-country skiing, plus a bronze medal in the 7.5- kilometre biathlon competition.
After four years of training and competing full-time, Robin spent the 2006/2007 season focused on family. In 2007, Robin returned to the sport full-time, this time not only as a competitor, but also as a coach. In addition to guiding Brian, Robin now successfully mixes his own training with coaching the Canadian Para-Nordic national cross-country ski team. Earning a living in a job that doubles as training has enabled Robin to maintain a work-life balance.
The McKeever team is now back racing faster than ever as a team, and achieved their goal of winning multiple Paralympic medals at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. Robin is also poised for success as a coach; his considerable experience and passion for the sport are laying the foundation for many of Canada's Para-Nordic athletes to reach the podium in future Winter Games.
AWARD FOR BEST FEMALE ATHLETE
lauren woolstencroft, para alpine skiing
Known as the Paralympic Winter Games "Golden Girl," Lauren Woolstencroft is a three-time Paralympic skier with eight gold, one silver, and one bronze medal. At Vancouver 2010, Lauren became the first Canadian winter Paralympian to win five gold medals at a single Games. Lauren was also named Canada's flag bearer for the 2010 Paralympic closing ceremonies.
Lauren has been a member of the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team (CPAST) since 1998 and has won over 50 World Cup medals, 8 World Championship titles, 10 Paralympic medals, and is the 2006 IPC Athlete of the Year. Lauren was born without legs below the knee and no left arm below the elbow. She started skiing in Whitefish, Montana on family ski holidays at the age of four. At 14 years old, Lauren began racing with the Alberta Disabled Ski Team.
Lauren recently announced her retirement from the game, stating that she hopes to be remembered as an athlete who faced challenges and overcame them to achieve success. Off the ski slopes, Lauren is an electrical engineer with British Columbia Hydro. Originally from Calgary, she now resides in North Vancouver, and is involved with the Canadian Paralympic Committee's speaker bureau.
AWARD FOR BEST TEAM PERFORMANCE
WHEELCHAIR CURLING TEAM
At the 2010 Vancouver Paralympic Winter Games, Sonja was the only returning member of the Canadian team that struck gold when wheelchair curling made its debut at the 2006 Torino Paralympic Winter Games. Since Torino, she has continued in her winning ways by taking home a gold medal in both the 2010 Paralympic Games and 2009 World Championships. Coached by 2006 gold medal winning coach, Joe Rea, Sonja is a member of the Vernon Curling Club.
After a fall from a horse and sustaining a spinal cord injury, she continued her love of sport by playing basketball and tennis. She also loves to row, bike and swim. When Sonja was first introduced to wheelchair curling she knew immediately that this was the sport for her and has now competed in one provincial championship, three national championships, three world championships, and two Paralympic Games.
Sonja has a keen interest in accessibility issues in her community of Vernon and lends her experience and knowledge to create new recreational opportunities for people with mobility challenges. She is an ambassador with the Rick Hansen Foundation and the Canadian Paralympic Committee where she uses the power of sport and her experience of overcoming challenges to motivate and inspire people of all ages.
A message that Sonja likes to leave with everyone is, "Always believe in your ability. Strive for excellence in all that you do and be an inspiration to someone in your life."
Living in Vernon, BC, Sonja is married to Dan and they have two active teenagers, Alysha and Colten. Family is her first priority in life. She is a Certified Teachers Assistant and hopes to work in the school system once she retires as a National Team Athlete.
Darryl is an active curler in British Columbia. He belongs to the Richmond Curling Club and the Marpole Curling Club in Vancouver, is a skip in four leagues, and has completed in numerous national and international championships. Darryl was part of the National team that won the gold medal at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Paralympic Games. He has also won bronze, silver, and gold at the Canadian National Wheelchair Curling Championships. All of these achievements come from a man who picked up the sport of wheelchair curling just six years ago.
In August 2000, Darryl had a construction accident and after months of rehabilitation he took up the sport of wheelchair tennis, which he continues to play and excel in to this day. In 2003, he was enticed into the sport of wheelchair curling by the late Jim Shannon who was a builder of the wheelchair curling in BC, a former teammate of Darryl's, and mentor to many aspiring athletes.
Darryl is also a speaker for the BC Paraplegic Association, an Ambassador with the Rick Hansen Foundation, and a spokesperson with BC Wheelchair Sports and the Canadian Paralympic Committee's Hero Program.
After a successful career on the British Columbia Curling Team, Jim converted to wheelchair curling in 2007 when he started using a wheelchair as a result of knee and back injuries. Jim began curling in 1958 when he was only eight years old and since then he has accumulated a long record of medals and achievements. As an able bodied athlete, Jim has competed in the Canadian Brier six times, twice as a Skip, and is the only curler to have won the Ross Harstone Award for Sportsmanship and Ability three times. This award was of great significance to Jim since it is an award voted on by his peers who hold great esteem for Jim and for all he has done for the sport. He served as an on-ice official at various major championship and as president of the World Curling Players' Association from 1997 to 1999.
Jim's biggest achievement to date is skipping his team to the gold medal at the 2010 Paralympic Games. In 2009, Jim also skipped his team to win gold at the World Curling Championships that was held on home turf in Richmond, BC. He is member of the Richmond Curling Club and is currently coached by Joe Rea.
Sadly, in September 2009, Jim lost his biggest fan and supporter when his wife Carleen passed away after a courageous battle with cancer. Jim's three children were cheering on their father to a gold medal performance at Vancouver 2010.
Ina began curling in 2004 after a by-passer approached her and suggested she give it a try. Two weeks later she was hooked. As a member of the BC Wheelchair Curling Team, she won silver at the 2004 and 2005 National Wheelchair Curling Championships. In 2006, Ina was named to the Canadian Wheelchair Curling Team, which finished 4th at both the 2007 and 2008 World Wheelchair Curling Championships. In 2009, with Ina playing Second, her team was victorious in winning the World Championships, which secured for her a berth in the 2010 Paralympics.
A member of the Vernon Curling club, Ina thinks she is well suited as Second because she likes to throw hits. Ina believes "curling requires a very steady mental focus and the perfect touch for delivering just the right weight for shots. The time commitment is the most difficult part of being an elite athlete. You want to be the best you can be which requires dedication to practice, but fitting everything in with all the other priorities in life gets difficult." Joe Rea is Ina's current coach as a member of Team Canada.
Her inspiration in life comes from hard-working, good people doing great things. Ina and her husband are small business owners and have three children. Ina has been a member of Foster Parents International for 20 years and plans to become more involved in international humanitarianism after her children are grown. Her motto is, "Life is a journey so plan a great trip."
Bruno, whose home club is the Ogden Legion Curling Club in Calgary, has been wheelchair curling for over five years and was one of the first players to sign up when the sport was first introduced in Calgary. Prior to a benign spinal tumour of the T7 and T8 vertebrate which occurred 18 years ago, Bruno had been an active curler for approximately 20 years. When the chance to once again play the game he loves arose, he seized the opportunity and has not looked back.
Bruno has this to say about his love of the sport: "I've always had a passion for curling and I still do. I believe in fair, honest, and competitive play. But most of all, I believe in having fun. I am honoured to be playing on Team Canada and for my country."
Bruno was part of the National team that won the gold medal on home soil during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Paralympic Games. Twice a Canadian silver medalist (2009 and 2007), Bruno's foursome, for which he has Skipped and played Third, has been the Alberta provincial champion team for the past four years. He has also curled in international bonspiels including events in: Utica, New York; Kinross, Scotland; Ottawa, Ontario; and Richmond, British Columbia.
When not at the curling rink, Bruno is a Project Manager for the Hendrix Foodservice Equipment Company. He has been married to his wife Debbie for 37 years and has two sons, two daughter- in-laws and five grandchildren.
DEVELOPMENT COACH OF THE YEAR AWARD
david grieg, para athletics
David Greig is the Para-Athletics National Talent Development Coach for Athletics Canada. A champion for Paralympic Sport, David has held coaching roles as Head Coach for the Windsor Bulldogs Disabled Sports Club Track and Field, Team Coach for the Ontario Cerebral Palsy Sports Association, Elite Development Coach/2009 Canada Games Head Coach for the Ontario Wheelchair Sports Association, and Long Sprints & Relay's Coach for the University of Windsor Lancers Track and Field. In his current role as National Team Development Coach, David selects, maintains, and promotes the para-athletics development squads, as well as directs the programming for the development of future Paralympians. He also recruits, educates, and mentors para-athletics coaches. Prior to this role, David worked as a Development Coordinator for the Ontario Cerebral Palsy Sports Association, as well as a number of other sports organizations. A chartered professional coach with Coaches Canada, David has lent his expertise to a wide range of organizations as a volunteer and coach. Major events he has been involved with include the Beijing Paralympic Games, the IWAS World Junior Championships, the Boiling Point Wheelchair Classic, Parapan Amercian Games, and IPC Championships, to name a few. He has been recognized for his valuable contributions with a number of prestigious coaching awards, including Coach of the Year 2008 from Paralympics Ontario (now ParaSport Ontario).
TIM FRICK PARALYMPIC COACH EXCELLENCE AWARD
kaspar wirz, para nordic skiing
Kaspar has been the head coach for the Canadian Para-Nordic National Ski Team since 1996. He has lead Canada's Para-Nordic athletes at four different Paralympic Games: Nagano (1998), Salt Lake City (2002), Turin (2006), and Vancouver (2010). He is also a veteran of four World Championships (1996, 2000, 2003, 2005) and countless IPC World Cups, Europa Cups and Alpen Cups. Kaspar's first Games experience was as a Master Wax Technician for Biathlon Canada at the Albertville 1992 Olympic Winter Games, and he served as the Race Wax Technician for World Cup events in Bulgaria (1993), Thunder Bay (1995), Kitzbühel (1995) and Ruhpolding (1996). From 1993 to 1997, Kaspar was the Toko wax representative in Western Canada and served as coach for the Saskatchewan senior cross-country team coach for Continental Cup and National Championships races. Under Kaspar's leadership, the Canadian Para-Nordic National Ski Team has seen unprecedented growth Kaspar's passion for Paralympic sport is infectious and has attracted many talented athletes to the Para-Nordic skiing in recent years.