Special Olympian shines on world stage
Team Canada athlete Larry Green wins two bronze medals in alpine skiing at Special Olympics World Winter Games
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Thursday, Feb 07, 2013 03:30 pm
A hero’s welcome greeted alpine skier Larry Green upon his triumphant return from the 10th annual Special Olympics World Winter Games.
A loud and proud cheering section of family and friends saluted the double bronze-medal winner from St. Albert in an emotional homecoming Wednesday at the Edmonton International Airport.
“This means the world to me as an athlete,” said an overjoyed Green, who was blown away by the mob of admirers. “I guess the reaction I got shows the people here love me.”
Surrounded by reporters and television cameras, Green described his medal-winning performance for Canada at PyeongChang, South Korea.
“There isn’t a feeling like it,” said the Fabricland employee. “Let’s just say the adrenaline rush was pretty high.”
The graduate of the GOALS program at Bellerose Composite High School and Vincent J. Maloney School alumnus raced to a podium finish in the intermediate Super G and giant slalom events. He also placed fifth in intermediate slalom.
“The ski hill was very tough to ski on but I was very consistent out there,” said Green, who said a few prayers before launching himself down the slopes like a rocket shot out of a cannon. “Basically for me it was just a matter of mental preparedness.”
Bronze was just as good as gold for the former St. Albert Gazette paperboy.
“I thought for sure I was going to get gold. I was only two seconds away (in one of the events),” he said. “Bronze is good but the next time gold is coming home.”
Green, 34, dedicated his medal haul to a number of people, including his late father, Don, who suffered a heart attack and died a few weeks after the 2011 Special Olympics Alberta Winter Games.
Green was inspired by his father to take up skiing in Grade 4.
“I will tell you this much; when I was out there (at worlds) I felt my dad’s skis on one side of me and my dad’s GMC Sierra on the other side of me.”
Green also thanked his family for their support (“I could not have done it without you guys”), a long list of sponsors and coaches, as well as the Snow Valley Ski Club, Sundance Ski & Snowboard Shop, Edmonton Oilers and Team Canada teammate Ambyr Lindon, an alpine skier from Edmonton who won silver in advanced slalom.
“I also want to thank the St. Albert Merchants junior B hockey club for being behind me the whole way,” Green said, “and the entire city of St. Albert for being behind me all the way too.”
The eight-day international competition was the largest sporting event in the world this year with athletes from 111 nations represented.
Green said the host Koreans “did a bang up job of motivating me and supporting me. They went out of their way to ensure that the hill was safe for me so it was easy for me to do my job.”
The 141-person Team Canada contingent included 102 athletes and 39 coaches and mission staff. They competed in six of seven sports at worlds: cross-country skiing, figure skating, floor hockey, snowshoeing, speed skating and alpine skiing.
Team Canada’s record-setting medal count was 44 gold, 44 silver and 21 bronze, an increase of eight from 101 medals won at the 2009 worlds in Boise, Idaho.
The Canadian athletes advanced through successive levels of competition to go to worlds. The final qualification for the 2013 worlds was based on performance at the 2012 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games held in St. Albert, Strathcona Country and Jasper. Green was the golden boy in the intermediate slalom and giant slalom and Super G bronze medallist.
The next Special Olympics World Winter Games is in 2017 in Austria.
“I would do it again in a heartbeat, no question. The experience was really awesome,” said Green, who is entering his 21st year with the Special Olympics program.
Green plans to catch up on his sleep, cheer on the Merchants in the playoffs and chow down at Nitza’s Pizza.
“Damn, it feels good to be home!”
For more information on Green’s adventure, visit www.larryssodream.blogspot.ca.