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Hefty haul

Kimberley/Cranbrook Special Olympics athletes return home from provincial games with plenty of hardware
Kimberley/Cranbrook Special Olympics curlers Susie Whipple (left) and Clinton Marsollier (right) enter the Special Olympics B.C. Winter Games opening ceremonies with B.C. Lions quarterback Travis Lulay (centre). Lulay was an honourary coach for the 2015 games

The Kimberley/Cranbrook Special Olympics team is back from the 2015 Special Olympics B.C. (SOBC) Winter Games in Kamloops and they’ve brought a treasure chest full of hardware.

Kimberley/Cranbrook Special Olympics sent 11 athletes, including five curlers and six skiers.

In total, the group laid claim to 17 medals -- all in skiing -- including 13 gold, two silver and two bronze. The curling team narrowly missed out on a bronze medal.

“Kimberley and Cranbrook has sent skiers to the Provincial Games since the first Provincial Games in the late 1980s,” wrote coach Joanne Thom via email. “They continue to excel to this day.”

The curling team, comprised by Susie Whipple, James MacFarlane, Ben Stein, Clinton Marsollier, Daniel Barker and coaches Michael Ralph and Misty Pagliaro, finished fourth, falling to the rink from Oceanside (Nanoose Bay, Parksville, Qualicum Beach and Bowser) in the bronze-medal match.

According to Thom, this is only the second year of curling for the group and the experience they’ve gained in that time is “amazing.”

In skiing, Roxana Podrasky, Erin Thom and Jonathan Robins brought home three gold medals each. The trio competed in the super G, giant slalom and slalom.

Neil Rye claimed two gold and a bronze medal, while Jesse Jensen earned two silvers and bronze. Kendall Salanski rounded out the group with two gold medals.

Steve Norton head coach of the skiing team, also attended the games.

From Feb. 19 to 21, the games were hosted in Kamloops and Sun Peaks, with 600 competitors from British Columbia and Yukon Territory earning more than 350 medals in seven sports.

“We were thrilled to see the powerful way our Games athletes were welcomed and celebrated in Kamloops. They were treated like athletes, with outstanding competitive venues, enthusiastic and well-trained officials and volunteers, and media coverage,” said SOBC president and CEO Dan Howe in a press release. “We heard wonderful response from those who generously came out to volunteer and the sponsors who supported the Games. As much as these athletes were inspired by the Games, they inspired so many others.”