HUNTSVILLE - It was an experience to last a lifetime.
Athletes Sarah Johnstone, left, Carl Grin and Raylan Stroud present Huntsville Mayor Claude Doughty with a commemorative photo of the 2012 OFSAA Nordic ski championship sprint races held in the downtown core.
Three Nordic sprint skiers from Huntsville High School Nordic ski team braved the Town of Huntsville council chamber to share their thoughts on the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations’ championships held in Huntsville in February.
Several of the events were held in Arrowhead Provincial Park but one of the gems of the event was the sprint relays held in the downtown core atop snow-packed streets.
Athlete Carl Grin said it was his first time at an Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations championship and said he was lucky to compete in his hometown.
“I was on the sprint team, and I can’t believe they sent us down Main Street,” he said with awe. “It was a cool experience … with such a supporting crowd. It was nice to see so many people and hear all their cheering.”
Despite the heavy snowfall the day of the races, hundreds of spectators had crowded around the course to support the athletes.
The experience so motivated Grin that he said he is looking forward to competing with the Nordic team for his next three years of high school.
“If I could sum the whole experience up in one word, that word would be ‘amazing,’” he said.
Athlete Sarah Johnstone had competed at federation events three times before but said the Huntsville championship was by far the best.
“Not just because it was in Huntsville,” she said with a laugh.
The highlight for her was the downtown sprint races.
“I loved how the community was able to become really involved, too, in the whole process,” said Johnstone.
Racing in front of thousands of cheering supporters was something she said she will remember forever.
“It was something really special, and I will probably never ski in front of that many people again in my life,” she said.
Fellow athlete Raylan Stroud spoke next. She thanked council on behalf of the high school’s Nordic ski team for its support of the event.
“This was an amazing opportunity for all of us involved,” she said.
Stroud and her teammates then presented an action shot of the races – skiers competing on a snowy surface with the downtown buildings in the background – to council.
Mayor Claude Doughty accepted the framed photograph for council then also presented a photograph of the event to team coach John Cowan.
Doughty credited Cowan for proposing an innovative event for the community and for the effort he put into helping to make the event a success.