Saturday, November 07, 2009

Visually impaired speedskater makes it to the Paralympic Games in Russia

Orléans deaf-blind speedskater Kevin Frost has his flight booked and will be heading to Chelyabinsk, Russia for the Paralympic Open Blind Cup Nov. 23-25 – the first time he’ll get to race against fellow visually-impaired speedskaters.
Frost has been working for seven years to foster interest in that type of event – with his end goal to see speedskating included in the Paralympic Games – but his participation in the competition was initially up in the air due to fundraising problems.

“I only need to raise another $1,000 and I’m sure I can make it happen,” Frost said in an e-mail to the Orléans Star, noting he received a big surprise last week when Speedskating Canada told him they’d like him to wear Canadian colours officially on behalf of their organization. “What an honour to represent Canada – I was caught off-guard when they asked me.”

The 42-year-old who suffers from Usher’s Syndrome – a degenerative condition that gradually reduces his sight and hearing – first heard about the competition in Chelyabinsk when he met a Russian coach last year in Vancouver for an international Masters event.

The coach explained that they would be holding a national championship for visually-impaired speed skaters – with 50 to 60 entrants – and would love for Frost to join them.

The idea was for the event to continue for the next three years with the end goal of being included in the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi as a demonstration sport – which doesn’t require the same stringent standards on international participation as a full-medal Paralympic sport since the organizing committee can stage whichever events it wishes.

“I’ve been trying for the last seven years to get this event and now all the pieces are starting to fit together now,” Frost noted in a previous interview with the Star. “It’ll be awesome. It’ll be nice to know who else is in the same boat, what they do for their training, and where I am world ranking-wise. Who knows? I might go there and be the slowest, or I might go there and be the world record breaker.”


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