Skiers, boarders get to meet gold medallist Dara Howell
Olympic gold medallist Dara Howell went to Horseshoe Resort to sign autographs and present awards for the Horseshoe Open Ski and Snowboard Festival Sunday afternoon.
A crowd gathered around her as the Canadian freestyle skier from Huntsville made her way to the signing table.
Among the fans was Chloe Stormgaard, 11, of Orangeville, who won gold at the Horseshoe Open in the rail jam event Saturday. She took her golden horseshoe award with her for Howell to autograph.
“It was awesome. I want to grow up and do just what she does. I want to become a freestyle skier and go to the Olympics,” she said.
Stormgaard, who skis regularly at Blue Mountain, was also competing in the slopestyle competition Sunday.
Howell, 19, won gold in slopestyle at the inaugural event at the 2014 Winter Olympics is Sochi, Russia.
Howell has been in demand for interviews and appearances since she returned home. She has visited a school in Huntsville and said she would like to visit more schools to talk about her experience.
“I’m riding this wave for a while,” she said.
Ski competition is over for her this season, but she will maintain a concentration on ski training for the next four years. She doesn’t have school plans in her near future, she said.
Howell won her first slopestyle event at the first Horseshoe Open in 2011. She didn’t get started in her sport until she was 15.
“I’m really happy to be back,” she said. “I think that these local competitions are really important for skiers and young kids to come out and get into it and have a blast. You have to start small. Baby steps are the way.
“You work hard and you get to come back and share it with everyone. I’m stoked to go out there and sign some autographs,” she said.
Skier Jennah Jones, 11, of Horseshoe Valley, was excited to meet Howell and have her sign her ski jacket. Jones is on the Horseshoe Valley race team.
“She’s local and an Olympian,” she said.
Skiers Hailey Robinson, 9, and her brother, Dominic, 15, came from Belleville with their mother to Horseshoe Resort Sunday when they found out Howell was going to be there.
“It was cool” to meet Howell, said Hailey, who has also met some of the athletes from Team Canada’s women’s hockey team at summer camp.
Jonathan Reid, director of partnerships and events for Horseshoe Resort, said more than 300 athletes took part in the Horseshoe Open on the weekend. The freestyle ski and snowboard festival featured rail jam and big air events Saturday and slopestyle events, which is a combination of rails and jumps, Sunday.
Howell handed out medals for the slopestyle events in grom (children), amateur and open for ski and snowboard competitions.