Top News

Port Williams ski racer reflects on gold-medal win at Canada Games

Shane Sommer shows off his hardware at the closing ceremony of the Canada Games in Red Deer, Alta. The Port Williams athlete medaled in alpine ski cross just hours before the closing ceremonies began March 2, earning Team Nova Scotia’s only gold medal. Communications Nova Scotia/Len Wagg
Shane Sommer shows off his hardware at the closing ceremony of the Canada Games in Red Deer, Alta. The Port Williams athlete medaled in alpine ski cross just hours before the closing ceremonies began March 2, earning Team Nova Scotia’s only gold medal. Communications Nova Scotia/Len Wagg - Contributed
RED DEER, Alta. —

King County’s Shane Sommer didn’t set out to capture Team Nova Scotia’s only gold medal at the Canada Games.

But he’s not complaining.

The 14-year-old Port Williams resident went into the winter games hosted in Red Deer, Alta. Feb. 15 to March 3 with what he called “realistic goals” based on previous results at similar events.

“One of my goals was definitely to have a Top 5 result in one of the competitions,” he said March 4.

On the final day of competition, it was time to recalculate.

The ski cross racer had worked his way into the enviable position of, at worst, finishing fourth in his U16 category.

“He knew that he knew what he was doing,” recalled Sommer’s lead alpine coach at the Games, Brittany Carter.

“He’s just a very versatile athlete. He spends a lot of free skiing.”

Sommer wasn’t about to count himself out of medal contention simply because athletes from other provinces trained on bigger hills more regularly.

And he’d made his presence on the slopes known leading up to the gold-medal run.

“It was just really awesome to watch. In fact, up until that last heat – the big final – he was way ahead of everyone,” said Carter.

“The corner that I was standing at, the athletes would come around the corner and Shane was just miles ahead every time, until that very last heat when he was actually a little bit behind and made a pretty cool pass to take the lead going into the finish.”

From the moment he was out of the gate until he was being swarmed by ecstatic supporters at the finish, Sommer said his mind was set on having fun with his final run.

“I actually broke my poles in the start gate, and I borrowed a Quebec kid’s poles for the big final,” he said.

“All of Atlantic was really there to just have as much fun as possible. That’s typically how we’ve done the best.”

Taking a last-minute lead - and doing it with style - certainly aligned with this game plan.

“It was pretty overwhelming, honestly. All of the parents and the other athletes from Atlantic just all started congratulating me,” said Sommer.

“I only made my final pass before the last turn of the entire course, over the jump. It felt pretty good. I was really happy, I knew then that all my work had paid off.”

A proud member of the competitive Atlantic alpine circuit, Sommer said it meant the world to him to have teammates known for encouraging each other and sharing his dreams of exceling in the demanding sport there to cheer him on.

“It was definitely a really cool feeling,” he said, noting that Team Nova Scotia’s Cole Fraser of Bedford placed fourth in the event.

“I was really happy to be there with my teammates, we had so much fun as a group.”

He hopes to see more ski racers from Atlantic Canada gaining valuable training opportunities and recognition for their results in the future.

 “Anyone from the Valley, really, we’re kind of seen as the underdogs in all of the other events and no one really takes us seriously until we (beat them),” he said with a laugh.

“Don’t underestimate yourself. We’re starting to put Atlantic on the map more and more.”

Now that he has a new gold medal to frame and hang with the other hardware on display in his home, it’s time to shift focus to his next Can-Ams competition at Sugarloaf in Maine.

Like with any competition, Sommer will propel forward flanked by supportive parents, coaches and teammates.

The Canada Games win, memories of well-wishers rushing to embrace him at the close of his gold-medal run, will serve as a constant reminder of how it feels when the hard work pays off.

“It was pretty surreal,” he said.

Did you know?

Team Nova Scotia squash player Douglas Kosciukiewicz of Canaan won a bronze medal at the Canada Games, sealing the deal with a 3-0 sweep of British Columbia’s Sam Scivier.

Read more about Kosciukiewicz here:

Kentville family going places with shared love of squash

Recent Stories