Green good as gold

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St. Albert alpine skier will race for Team Canada at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games

Larry Green’s favourite colour is red, so naturally the alpine skier from St. Albert was over the moon when his Team Canada skin suit arrived for him to wear at the Special Olympics World Winter Games.

“The redness I like it a lot,” Green said with excitement. “I will wear it with pride.”

The Red Rocket will be firing on all cylinders during the Jan. 29 to Feb. 5 competition at PyeongChang, South Korea.

“My goal is to go into these Games with my head held high, have some fun and work hard but most importantly try and place as well as I can,” said Green.

The former Gazette paper boy is honoured to represent Canada on the world stage.

“It’s going to be a whole different ball game for me but when it comes to wearing the maple leaf I do know what it means to put it on. It means you’re going to worlds and representing your country and there is not a feeling like it in the world,” said the graduate of the GOALS program at Bellerose Composite High School and Vincent J. Maloney School alumnus.

Green, 34, is pumped for the adventure of a lifetime.

“This is bar none the biggest event I’ve ever gone to. I’m actually living my childhood dream, which is to make Team Canada. I wouldn’t trade this for the world.”

When asked if he was getting nervous with the Games less than a month away, Green replied: “No, not at all. I don’t get nervous very easily. I’m cool as a visit to Nitza’s Pizza.”

He will race for medals in downhill, Super G, giant slalom and dual slalom at the Games.

“I like them all. As a skier there is nothing better than going very hard racing down the hill. There isn’t a feeling like it.”

Green describes himself as a daredevil on the slopes who is hooked on the adrenaline rush.

“I’ve always been a speed demon when it comes to the hill, but when I was a beginner I started out slow,” he said. “Whenever I ski I do have the odd snack because if you don’t and the adrenaline hits you don’t come down until 8 o’clock the next morning.”

Before every race Green rocks out to heavy metal.

“Usually it’s Godsmack first and if it’s a long time I switch to Metallica and then P.O.D.”

When ready to go, Green’s game plan is simple.

“I’m thinking get down the hill as fast as I can but stay in control and I do that lots.”

Father is his hero

Green was inspired to ski by his father, Don. He has been doing it since Grade 4, but began competitively with Special Olympics 10 years ago.

“I grew up with the sport. My dad skied but didn’t race,” Green said of his longtime supporter who suffered a heart attack and died a few weeks after the 2011 Special Olympics Alberta Winter Games.

“I use my dad’s death as motivation. I say to myself, ‘Dad, I need your blessing.’ I also say, ‘This one is for you Dad,’ and I give him one of these,” said Green, while pumping his chest with his fist before raising his hand straight up into the air. “That’s called the word of life.”

Green thought of his dad when informed he made Team Canada for the Games.

“I was told over the phone and I was stoked. I was so happy. Let’s just say my dad was just shaking in his ashes too.”

It’s the biggest accomplishment in Green’s career, surpassing the Parkland Cup victory by the St. Albert Express and his performance at the 2012 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games held in St. Albert, Strathcona County and Jasper.

“I’ve always been proud of winning the Parkland Cup, that’s the league championship trophy in floor hockey,” said the Green, who is entering his 21st year with the Special Olympics program.

At nationals Green was pure gold in the slalom and giant slalom in the men’s intermediate division and was the bronze medallist in Super G.

“I was very happy, and not only that I was also happy for my teammates even though I didn’t say a whole lot,” said the 2011 provincial medal winner of two gold and one silver in alpine skiing at Rabbit Hill.

Green was thrilled to make the medal podium.

“The excitement in the air – you could just feel it, and not only that, when I was on the gate in Jasper I knew right away I was going to be moving onto bigger and better things,” said the Fabricland employee.

Green’s preparation for Games includes three sessions a week at Snow Valley.

“It’s a major fun hill,” he said. “I’ve been practicing as hard as I possibly can. When I do practice I basically go there and have fun or I wouldn’t be a member of Team Canada.”

Green admitted it didn’t really sink in that he was going to the Games until his first training camp in Toronto with the national team. Another session involving the alpine and cross-country ski teams was held in November in Canmore and Green tested the slopes at Mt. Norquay.

“Now, I’m ready to go. I can’t wait.”

Green lists former NHL defenceman Ken Daneyko and Olympic gold medallist Cassie Campbell as role models.

“Wherever Ken Daneyko played and I was watching he would always bring his A game. Basically he inspires me to work hard and play harder,” Green said. “I like Cassie Campbell because whenever I watched the Canadian women’s hockey team she would basically bring her A game every game.”

Green’s favourite hockey team is the St. Albert Merchants.

“I like the Merchants because they are very hard working and they also give me my five dollars worth of hockey.”

To learn more about Green’s journey, Beaumont teacher Amanda Merriman made a blog about her brother’s story at http://larryssodream.blogspot.ca/p/larrys-story.html.

TEAM CANADA: A total of 141 athletes, coaches and mission staff make up the Canadian delegation at the 10th annual Special Olympics World Winter Games, which is billed as the world’s largest sporting event in 2013.

The alpine ski team consists of 15 athletes, including Ambyr Lindon and Philip Mullen of Alberta.

Canadian athletes will also compete in figure skating, snowshoeing, speed skating and floor hockey.

All the athletes advanced through successive levels of competition to go to the Games. The final qualification for the 2013 worlds was based on performance at the 2012 nationals.

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About Author

Jeff Hansen

Jeff Hansen joined the St. Albert Gazette in 1991. He writes about sports, athletes and teams from St. Albert and area.