Celebrating Sochi 2014

The XXII Olympic Winter Games (Sochi) 2014
Friday, February 7 to Sunday, February 23

On grandchildren and the importance of playing as a team

Minor hockey coach Ted Richard continues to instill knowledge on Cumberland County’s hockey-playing youth.

By Jamie Heap-The Amherst News
The Citizen-Record

AMHERST-Veteran minor hockey coach Ted Richard has three good reasons to continue coaching minor hockey, something he has done for about 25 years now.

Coach Ted Richard (far left) seen here with the Cumberland Peewee Archway Insurance Ramblers prior to a January home game at Amherst Stadium, has been coaching minor hockey on-and-off for the past quarter of a century. He also coaches Timbits hockey. Jamie Heap-Amherst News - The Citizen-Record

“I’ve been coaching on-and-off for the past 25 years at all levels,” said Richard. “I’ve been coaching this team (Cumberland Peewee Archway Insurance Ramblers), the team that my grandson plays on, for the past two years. I also coach Timbits hockey where I have two other grandchildren playing hockey.”

While having grandchildren who play hockey is one reason why Richard is still coaching after all these years, it is not the only reason why he still does it.

“I enjoy the kids and seeing their excitement after scoring goals and winning,” said Richard. “It’s got to do with the kids and the parents, whether they’re winning or losing. They key is at the end of the year is to still having them playing as a team.”

Doing Brookside Curling club proud

Veteran River Hebert legion curler Ron Hoeg continues winning ways

By Jamie Heap

RIVER HEBERT-Ron Hoeg is no stranger to winning legion provincial curling championships. Hoeg, who has been curling out of the century-old Brookside Curling club for about 40 years, has nothing but fond memories of legion curling.

Provincial championship winning legion curler Ron Hoeg has called Brookside Curling club home for 40 years.

“It’s 30 years ago this year that we (Ron Hoeg, twin brother Bob Hoeg, Robert Beardsley and Merritt Jewitt) won legion opens (provincials) in Springhill,” said Ron Hoeg. “We travelled to Weyburn, Saskatchewan for legion nationals that year. The trip out there was wonderful. They treated you so great. It was unbelievable.”

This would not be Ron and Bob Hoeg’s last trip to legion nationals. After a new Brookside Curling club was constructed in 1985, more provincial titles followed.

In 2006, Larry Scopie, Dale MacDonald, Bob Hoeg and Ron Hoeg captured the Nova Scotia provincial senior league championship in Bridgewater. From there, they went on to legion nationals in Cloverdale, British Columbia. Three years later, Scopie, the Hoegs and Sherman Jackson won the Nova Scotia senior league title in Lower Sackville. In 2009, legion nationals were held in Surrey, British Columbia.

“Curling is a sport that you can play for years and years,” claims Ron Hoeg. “Every time you win a provincial title, you get put into the legion hall of fame.”


Female minor hockey player enjoys the rush of skating down the ice

River Hebert’s Breanna Cormier looking forward to Olympic hockey

By Jamie Heap
The Amherst News/The Citizen-Record

RIVER HEBERT - Breanna Cormier is looking forward to the Winter Olympics.

“I am looking forward to the Olympics’ hockey,” said the Cumberland Peewee Archway Insurance Ramblers captain. “It’s some of the best hockey. I think the Canadian teams are going to do well; there’s a lot of talented people playing.”

Cumberland Peewee Archway Insurance Ramblers captain Breanna Cormier (right) of River Hebert takes the face-off for her team, the Cumberland Peewee Archway Insurance Ramblers, in a January 18 tilt at Amherst Stadium against the Cumberland Pewee Scotiabank Ramblers.
By Jamie Heap

Cormier, who scored three goals and added four assists for seven points in her team’s 7-0 win over the Cumberland Peewee Scotiabank Ramblers on Jan. 18 at Amherst Stadium, says that she enjoys playing minor hockey for several reasons.

“I like to be part of a team, having fun with my friends and feeling the rush of skating down the ice fast,” said Cormier. “I’ve been hockey playing for six years.”

When asked who Cormier’s favourite players are, it is not surprising that she chose two proven hockey leaders: men’s captain Sidney Crosby and former women’s captain Hayley Wickenheiser who led the Canadian women’s team to gold in 2010.

“This is my first year being a captain,” stated the 12 year-old. “My responsibilities are to keep the team working well together and to remind them to just have fun.”

Olympics inspired Crocker’s skating dreams and may do same for her daughter

By Dave Mathieson
Amherst News

AMHERST - Competing at the Winter Olympics was always a goal for Amherst’s Annie Crocker. “Whatever sport you’re in you want to be the best, and the best was at the Olympics,” said Crocker. She never did make it to the Olympics but she did compete at two national figure skating championships: 2004 in Burnaby, B.C., and 2008 in Brampton, Ont.

“While growing up, the Olympics was always such a big thing for me. I always liked seeing the other skaters,” said Crocker. “It gave me something to work for and, when I was young, it gave me a goal to work towards.”

Former figure skater Annie Crocker says she’s not going to push her two-year-old daughter Olivia into figure skating but will support her if she chooses to become a figure skater. Crocker attended the national figure skating championships in 2004 and 2008. She now attends Nova Scotia Community College in Springhill, and Olivia attends the Early Childhood Learning Centre at the Springhill Campus. Dave Mathieson – Amherst News

Crocker’s two-year-old daughter, Olivia Hyatt, has been skating since she was 10 months old.

“She’s very powerful but her balance is phenomenal for her age right now,” said Crocker. “She likes to skate fast but she can’t skate as fast as she wants to, so she wants me to pick her up and skate with her because she wants to go faster.”

Crocker says she won’t push Olivia to become a figure skater.

“I’m going to let her make her own decision but she absolutely loves skating and she loves being on the ice,” said Crocker. “This sounds crazy, but I will do a one-foot spin as fast as I can holding onto her and she loves it. She loves spinning around and around.”

If Olivia does become an Olympic to be a figure skater her path to the top will more fair than it was when Crocker was coming up through the system.

“The Salé-Pelletier scandal changed everything,” said Crocker.

The Canadian pairs skating team of Jamie Salé and David Pelletier were robbed of the gold medal by judges at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

After a revue of the judging, Salé and Pelletier’s medal was upgraded from silver to gold. Figure skating judging went under vast revisions in the years following the scandal.

“Since the Salé-Pelletier Olympic scandal, Skate Canada has worked harder and harder to change the judging system so it’s a lot more fair,” said Crocker.

The new judging criteria forces figure skaters to be more well rounded.

“When I was growing up skating I could jump and spin, but my strengths were that I was powerful and my footwork was good,” said Crocker

She often competed against girls who were strong jumpers.

“There were small girls who would do 10 jumps and get points for every jump,” said Crocker. “With the new judging criteria you can only have so many jumps, you can’t repeat a jump, and they have base marks for the different kind of jumps. It’s a lot more fair.”

Crocker says figure skating jumps to a new level every year.

“It’s crazy to see how much they develop every year. They’ve got to a point where you think it’s impossible for them to do a higher jump but they keep going higher,” she said. “Even the women are attempting quads now. It’s crazy to see.”

Does she envision Olivia skating at the Olympic some day?

“She might be in the Olympics some day: It might be figure skating, it might be hockey, or it might be speed skating,” said Crocker. “She loves to skate but it will be her decision as to how far she wants to take it.”

Crocker facts:
• After her final year of figure skating in Amherst Crocker went to Memorial University in Newfoundland and did synchronized skating for one year.
• After that she taught figure skating at clubs in Newfoundland and in Alberta.

A life on skates

From competing to coaching, Coleman thrives on ice

By Andrew Wagstaff
Amherst News

PARRSBORO - Laura Coleman has skated competitively and professionally, and still spends six days a week on skates as a coach.

She has given much of her life to the sport of figure skating since she was two years old. But what has the sport given her?

“There are so many things I love about skating,” she said. “Sometimes I even like to go out by myself, with no music, just listening to my blades on the ice. It’s just in my blood.”

She began skating competitively at the age of six, competing all over Eastern Canada, as her family moved around during her father’s career in the RCMP. She had the benefit of living both in cities, where she was able to compete at higher levels, and in smaller areas, where rink facilities were more accessible for long hours of practice. Through it all she experienced moments of triumph and heartbreak, where the intense pressure made her a better skater but also sometimes made her an emotional wreck.

“Looking back at my experiences, even though there were rough times and great times in my career, I always tried to keep in mind why I started skating in the first place – because I loved it,” said Coleman.

Upon completion of high school she was accepted into university and was set to leave the world of high profile skating behind when a friend convinced her to try out for Disney on Ice. She was offered the job, and decided she wasn’t finished with skating just yet.

“I thought I’d do it for about a year, but I loved it so much I did it for seven, and got to go all over the world,” she said.

She discovered that it was the entertainment aspect of skating that she loved all along – performing in front of an audience and smiling fir the crowd.

Now, she shares her love of skating, her knowledge and experience with young skaters all over Cumberland County and beyond as a coach. She keeps busy coaching with clubs in Amherst, Oxford, Parrsboro, Tatamagouche and now Truro.

Coleman loves the Winter Olympics and is excited about the upcoming Sochi games, where she plans to follow all the athletes and sports, but will have her eyes mostly on Canadian ice dancing pair Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue, who will be defending the gold medal they won in Vancouver in 2010.

“It will be a struggle, and not a given by any means,” she said. “They are so beautiful to watch. They are amazing and really are the essence of what figure skating is.”

Keith will keep a close eye on Canada’s Olympic curlers

By Dave Mathieson
Amherst News

AMHERST - Curling has a loyal following throughout Canada, and one of those loyal fans is Amherst’s Robin Keith.

“Yes, I’m a big fan,” said Keith, while curling at the Amherst Curling Club Monday night.

Robin Keith (centre) has been curling off and on since 1986, and was throwing rocks Monday night at the Amherst Curling Club. Dave Mathieson - Amherst News

Keith just returned from the TSN All-Star Curling Skins Game in Banff Alberta.

“By luck we were visiting family out there but it’s fun to be right beside the curlers.”

Keith is anticipating a good showing by the Canada’s men’s curlers at the Olympics.

“I’ve got the draw at home so I know when all the games are,” he said.

The Team Canada men’s foursome is Brad Jacobs, Ryan Fry, E.J. Harnden and Ryan Harnden.

They won the 2012-2013 Brier, and then won silver at the world championships.

“Team Canada is an excellent team. They came on the scene last year at the Briar, and then they just missed on winning the worlds but they went through the Olympic Trials undefeated,” said Keith. “The Harnden brothers are excellent. They make great shots.”

Keith expects Canada to finish on the podium.

“There’s a lot of pressure on them but I think they’ll do good,” he said. “They should definitely medal and they should win it all if they throw like they’ve been throwing.”

Keith says Scotland, Norway and China are playing really good as well.

“China has a very strong team now. They come over here to get their coaching.”

Team Canada has at least one strong advantage.

“The ice over there should be about the same as it is here in Canada because they have the Canada ice makers making ice over there,” said Keith. “So if the ice is consistent they shouldn’t have any problems but anything can happen in curling.

“It’s a slippery game played on ice.”

Seeing woods from the trees

Tree skier Godfrey cheering for Team Canada

PORT HOWE – Passion.

It can create the path to the winter Olympics or a blanket of fresh, uncut snow where professional athletics are the furthest thing from your mind.

Ken “Rock” Godfrey is one of those enthusiasts, whose voice gets a little more excited when he talks about his passion for “skiing in the trees.”

“It’s like trail blazing in the woods,” Godfrey explains. “We’ve had a few good days of powder, so it’s been a real adrenaline rush.”

Ski Wentworth offers the daring glade trails – wooded trails developed during the off-season with a variety of slopes and challenges – and Godfrey took to the sport four years ago after 25 years of skiing in between the usual trails. And a day out for Godfrey is a day out for the family. Wife Tess is a snowboarder and their children – Aiden, Brendan and Ceilidg – are just as eager to challenge themselves on the hill, either in Godrey’s frozen wake or blazing their own trails.

“The first year we started as a family they went from Bunny Hill to the Headwall [double Black Diamond],” Godfrey said.

When the Winter Olympics take place at Sochi, Russia, the Godfrey’s have a challenge ahead of them” balancing home, work, school and fun against cheering for Canada’s best.

“I always watch the Winter Olympics,” Godfrey said. “Alpine, freestyle – even cross country. And we have Alex Duckworth, a local gal, to keep an eye on.”

Duxworth, 27, is a half-pipe snowboarding medalist hailing from Lunenburg who is part of Team Canada.

The 2014 Winter Olympics begin February 7.

Winter Games, Spring Street Academy style

Learning about Russia, Olympics

By Darrell Cole
Amherst News

AMHERST – Students at an Amherst elementary school are set to celebrate the Olympic spirit. With the 2014 Winter Olympics set to begin this weekend in Russia, students and staff at Spring Street Academy got into the mood earlier this week with their own official opening to a week long of activities to celebrate the Winter Olympiad.

“We’re trying to build the Olympic spirit and national pride within the school and we’re also trying to teach the students about culture,” Spring Street Academy principal Aaron Stubbert said following the ceremony. “Everything is tied into the curriculum and academic success. It’s about merging the two of them so the students have a positive experience and learn at the same time.”

During the official opening, students participated in a parade of classes with each class led by a flag bearer and students showing examples of some of the events in the Winter Games. The national anthems of Canada and Russia were played and Dr. Victor Freeman from the University of Moncton spoke to the students in Russian.

“We wanted to bring the spirit of the Olympics to the kids,” teacher Daren White said. “The kids are doing so many sports in the gymnasium that we wanted to do something to coincide with the Olympics.” Members of the Grade 5 and 6 classes performed several Olympic-themed dance routines with a Russian flavour, while members of the Atlantic Dance Academy performed a Russian dance as part of the finale before the Olympic torch entered the gymnasium and the cauldron was lit.

White said the students will learn about Russia and Russian culture and participate in a variety of events including cross-county skiing, skating and snowshoeing. There will also be Russian doll making and cooking.

“It’s all kid driven. They made all the flags and planned all the dances,” he said. “It’s a wonderful way to celebrate the Olympic spirit.”

White said the students are making medals that they will exchange during the closing ceremonies on Friday afternoon. Stubbert thanked the Town of Amherst for helping the school by providing icetime for the students at the stadium each afternoon this week.

He said teachers also received materials from Team Canada that they can use to teach students about the Winter Olympics.

“It pairs up nicely with our virtues projects where we talk about respect, responsibility and excellence. That goes along with the Olympic model. It’s a natural fit,” Stubbert said. “We hope each of the students gets a greater understanding of culture, sport, activity being physically fit and using your mind and body.”

A highlight of the morning was a conversation via Skype with 2006 Olympic curling gold medallist Jamie Korab from Harbour Grace, N.L. Korab, a member of the Brad Gushe-winning team from Torino, Italy, spoke to the students about his Olympic experience.

“I started curling when I was 11 and I started right away to dream about going to the Olympics,” Korab said. “It was hard work, dedication, listening to my teachers and eating healty that helped get me there. We trained hard every day. We went to the gym, went running, worked with a nutritionist and dedicated ourselves to the sport,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be curling. If you show dedication and work hard you’ll be good at whatever you do in sports, the arts and academics.”

Rooting for Team Canada while looking for Team Nova Scotia spot

Last year snowboarder Luke Jackson claimed the NSSAF medal for boardercross snowboarding. This year he’ll look to the Sochi Olympics for further inspiration as he works towards his own goal of becoming part of Team Nova Scotia. File

By Christopher Gooding
Amherst News

STELARTON - When it comes to work and play, Luke Jackson is a young man who takes both very seriously. Last year, while he was attending his final year at Springhill High, Jackson claimed the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation’s top title in boardercross snowboarding at Ski Martock. This year, as a college student in Stellarton, Jackson is still dividing his time between higher learning and higher athletic ambitions.

“I’m travelling a lot more this year than before but I have to focus on both just as much,” Jackson said. Just as many chose to travel to get their post-secondary education, Jackson travels to get in training camps and experiences as a boardercross snowboarder as he strives towards his goal to represent Nova Scotia in the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George. His skills and ambition have him training with Snowboard Nova Scotia and just recently Jackson returned from Vermont where he raced in a two-day United States of American Snowboard Association event before moving into a national training camp.

“There were 60 people in my category,” Jackson said. “I didn’t qualify but it was amazing. To be there and then into a training camp with Snowboard Canada was really amazing.”

Someday, maybe, being part of Team Canada in the winter Olympics is in the future for Jackson, but he’s taking things one goal at a time and earning his place on Team Nova Scotia, he says, is where he’s set the bar.

But that doesn’t mean he wont be watching the Sochi Winter Olympics and rooting for the home team.

“I’ll definitely be watching… it’s nice to see a small-population country like Canada can put out an amazing team.”