Two of Canada’s top young athletes were announced last week as recipients of 2018 Canadian Paralympic Sport Awards, in the category of Best Paralympic Games Debut for a male and female athlete. Alexis Guimond and Natalie Wilkie, respectively, will receive their awards at the 2018 Canadian Paralympic Sport Awards in Calgary on November 15.
These two talented teenaged skiers will be a force for Canada for many years. Get to know them below:
In his first two race at the Paralympic Games this past March in PyeongChang, Alexis Guimond sent a message he’d be a force to be reckoned with in the Para alpine skiing events. The 18-year-old placed fourth in the men’s standing downhill and super G on consecutive days.
In the downhill, he watched 14 other competitors race before he was knocked out of a medal position. In the super G, he missed the podium by a mere 0.11 seconds.
‘’That’s the game,’’ he said about the results.
Three days later, his persistence paid off as he won a historic bronze for Canada in the giant slalom. He became first Canadian male standing Para alpine skier to win a Paralympic Winter Games medal in 20 years.
- Competed at 2011 Canada Games in Halifax at age 11
- Double gold medallist at 2015 Canada Games in Prince George
- Named Ski Québec male rising star in 2016
- Born in Houston, Texas, and moved to Canada at age four
- Writes Slam poetry
Natalie Wilkie grew up in the small municipality of Salmon Arm, B.C. However her life changed in a New York minute when she lost four fingers in her left hand in a workshop accident in school.
Her hobbies before the accident were music, painting and cross-country skiing. In less than two years, Wilkie took her skiing talents to new heights as she won three medals, one of each colour, at the 2018 Paralympic Games at age 17. She was the youngest member on the Canadian Paralympic Team.
“I didn’t think I would be skiing at all after my accident. I was lying in my hospital bed with my mom thinking it would be over. I didn’t think I would be able to hold my pole anymore, even ski,” Wilkie said.
- Learned to ski with one pole for the Paralympics
- After her triple medal performance in PyeongChang, she was celebrated in her hometown of Salmon Arm with a fire truck parade around downtown and given the key to the city.
- Her sister made a clay medal for her which she used as a good luck charm at the Games
- She imagined she was elbowing her brother when she pushed down on her pole during the gruelling moments of her gold medal race
- Salmon Arm residents held a viewing party for her races at the local Recreation Centre