B.C. skier wins gold after beating cancer
VANCOUVER -- The worldwide shutdown of everything except essential services with the ongoing spread of COVID-19 has everyone on edge, and the world of sport is just an afterthought. But there is one story that never got told and it happened on the ski hill in Ontario. A man with a dream and a willingness to push the limits and go for gold.
Cory Duhaime is at home now, staying inside with the rest of the nation, but the 31-year-old from Delta usually spends most of his time outside on a ski hill carving up the mountain and blazing down as fast as he can go.
"I fell in love with the sport and that is where Special Olympics happened," said Duhaime. "I first started racing in 2006. Here I am now in 2020."
In February, Duhaime represented B.C. in alpine racing at the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Thunder Bay.
"There is no doubt that Special Olympic have given him a lot of confidence, sociability,” said his dad Michael Duhaime. "We are fortunate we have a son with autism who is considered high-functioning and there is still a lot of support needed along the way.”
The support started within the Duhaime family, logging miles to each ski event and training three days a week for the last 14 years. "It has been quite an adventure," said Michael.
"He coaches and drives me to where I need to go… he's my taxi," laughed Cory, "He gives me advice but usually he lets the coaches coach."
In June, his off-season training came to a halt. Cory was diagnosed with cancer.
"Skiing takes a back seat to an issue like that. Fortunately, he was able to overcome that and here we are eight months later," said Michael.
With a clean bill of health, the resilient skier was back on the hill preparing for the Winter Games. Although he was dealing with a foot ailment, he persevered and began his quest for gold even though he was slow out of the gate.
"According to my mom, I was slow as molasses. That’s because I had a foot injury, but the next two days, I was going really fast," said Cory.
On a cool, crisp, bluebird day, his speed and determination won three gold medals in slalom, giant slalom and super giant slalom events.
"When they announced it, that I had won, I didn't actually think I'd won. But then when they announced I'd won three golds, I was going what? Did I really do that?" laughed Cory.
"I'm proud of him. Not because of those gold medals around his neck. I'm proud of him because of the effort and the commitment he gives to the sport. That is marvelous to watch," said Michael.
Special Olympic athletes have intellectual disabilities, and through the power of sports, they discover new skills, abilities and success.
"We never even talk about autism or Down syndrome. Whatever these athletes are dealing with, it's never an issue. It's just go out and do the best that you can in whatever sport you choose from and away you go," said Michael.
Cory’s journey will continue, as his dream to represent Canada has been put on hold until the world becomes a safer place.
"Fingers crossed if I'm selected. If not, I'll still be enjoying this snow right here," he said.