Andrew Spring is still golden.
The former Paul Kane student won his fourth consecutive gold medal at the provincial Skills Canada competition at the Agricom this week. Spring, 21, competed in the cabinet making category.
“It’s always a lot of work and it always feels good when it pays off,” he said.
Alberta’s two-day championships sees high school and post-secondary students perform time-limited projects in various technology and trade events that include baking, bricklaying, mechanics and hair dressing.
In previous years, Spring won two gold at the high school level and one at the post-secondary level.
This year’s win qualifies Spring for the national competition in Charlottetown, P.E.I. May 20 to 23. This is his last year of eligibility and he’s hoping to add to his collection of national medals, which includes one of every colour: gold, silver and bronze.
“It would be really nice to pull off another gold medal win at the national level,” he said.
Like any champion, Spring has overcome challenges. In January of last year he severed his middle finger in a band saw. After doctors re-attached it, he spent eight months in rehabilitation and physiotherapy.
“It’s all in one piece and working just as good as it ever did,” he said. “I don’t know about the doctors, but I for one was quite amazed because when it happened I was almost 100 per cent sure I was going to lose it.”
Spring credits Paul Kane teacher Randy Kozak for allowing him to practice in the shop and for helping students in technical pursuits.
“These kids are being given a chance to see what they can do,” Spring said. “Paul Kane in particular is doing a fantastic job of fostering that interest.”
Spring’s win wasn’t much of a surprise to Kozak, the school’s career and technology head.
“He’s golden,” Kozak said. “He knew what he needed to do.”
Paul Kane sends students every year to the competition.
Former student Rebecca Gorbahn, 19, took home a silver in the culinary arts category. The 2008 grad just completed her first year of apprenticing while working under the renowned executive chef Jasmin Kobajica at La Ronde in Edmonton’s Crowne Plaza Hotel.
Besides working full-time, she practiced for several hours a day for a month in preparation for the competition.
“It’s a really good learning experience because you push yourself into different and new things,” she said. “It’s by far the greatest achievement in my career so far.”
Also pulling in a silver was Grade 11 student Hannah Murphy, who competed in the graphic design category. Murphy’s win was a bit of a surprise but she was able to perform at the competition because of her great creativity and relaxed approach, Kozak said.
“It’s kind of neat to see somebody go there competing — you see a lot of the other kids that are stressed — and she was just kind of laughing, joking, having fun.”
It was a disappointing competition for Grade 12 culinary arts student Peter Keith, who was brimming with confidence after winning gold at the regionals. Despite putting in hours of dedicated practice, Keith “didn’t hit a home run the first day” and couldn’t make up for the setback with a solid second day.
“It’s a competition. There’s a lot of pressure and a lot of stress,” Kozak said. “It maybe bit him a little bit.”