Yukon North Of Ordinary

Sports archive for January 21, 2013

Special Olympian excited for World Winter Games

Sixteen-year-old Michael Sumner has been named to the Canadian team bound for the Special Olympics World Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

By Marcel Vander Wier on January 21, 2013 at 3:32 pm


Photo by Whitehorse Star

Michael Sumner

Sixteen-year-old Michael Sumner has been named to the Canadian team bound for the Special Olympics World Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

The competition will be held from Jan. 29 to Feb. 5.

“It means the world to me,” Sumner said of his inclusion on the 141-member team.

Sumner was the only Yukoner named to Team Canada. The F.H. Collins student will perform a figure skating routine to the theme of Pirates of the Caribbean – Black Pearl.

Special Olympics Yukon held a press conference at the Sport Yukon office in Whitehorse Friday morning to make the announcement.

“We’re very proud of Michael and his accomplishments over the course of many years,” said Serge Michaud, Special Olympics Yukon executive director.

“We know he’s prepared. He’s been training four, five, six times a week some weeks in preparation for this event.”

Sumner’s talents aren’t limited to figure skating. He also attended the 2009 Special Olympics B.C. Summer Games to compete in bocce.

Tom Gibbs, programs chair on the local Special Olympics board of directors, congratulated Sumner on his latest achievement.

“He’s such an amazing guy, and a great ambassador for the Yukon,” Gibbs said.

Sumner got word he had made the team already last April, and has worked hard to train for this moment.

“I have been busy skating and training since that very day,” Sumner said at the press conference.

His selection was based on past performances at national games.

In May, Sumner flew to Toronto to meet Team Canada.

There, he developed his figure skating routine and began a workout program to prepare him for the World Winter Games.

In November, Sumner flew to Toronto a second time, to meet exclusively with the 16-member figure skating team and try some South Korean food.

“Both visits were great experiences,” he said. “Now I’m coming closer to that day when all my work and dedication will be performed in the arena with so many people watching.

“You ask me, am I nervous? Sometimes. But for the most part, I am so excited and I am thankful to have this amazing opportunity.”

Sumner said the community of Whitehorse has provided tremendous support to him in the time he has spent readying himself for the World Winter Games.

“Thank you everyone. I look forward to sharing my experience with everyone upon my return.”

On Wednesday, Sumner will perform his Pirates of the Caribbean routine in front of the local Special Olympics community on the Canada Games Centre ATCO ice at 5:45 p.m.

He leaves Whitehorse for South Korea the following day.

The last Special Olympian from the Yukon to attend the World Winter Games was cross-country skier Owen Munroe in 2009. Munroe brought home three medals from the event, held in Idaho.

Sumner is the first Yukon figure skater to head to the World Winter Games since 1993.

Approximately 3,300 athletes from 120 countries are expected to compete at the event.

Michaud thanked local skating coach Charlene Donald for her work in resurrecting the Special Olympics figure skating program in the Yukon 10 years ago.

“It was due to her hard work ... that the program basically flourished,” he said. “We have over 15 athletes figure skating every week. I guess the fruit of the labour produced Michael Sumner’s performance.”

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