Hayden and the family packed up and headed for the 2020 Ontario Winter Games hosted by Alpine Ontario at Mt St Louis Moonstone held from February 26 – 28.
We arrived a day early to meet up with new guide Johnathan MacDonald. Once the introductions were made and the radios mounted and adjusted, Hayden and Johnathan took the the slopes for a few practice runs to get used to the comms and – more importantly – each other. As the pair went by me after their first run, Hayden shouted to his mother Cheyanne, sister Gracie and myself, “This is fun!”
The following morning, as the snow began to fall during what turned into an epic 3-day snow storm, Hayden and Johnathan competed in the slalom event, pitted against the other stand-up para skiiers.
The race format integrated both the para- and able-bodied skiiers, with the para athletes going first followed by the able-bodied group in 2 heats.
Once both heats concluded and the course disassembled, all skiiers participated in the day’s awards ceremony.
The results were in with Hayden being awarded with the bronze medal in the stand-up skiier category behind gold medalist Rebecca Mideros and silver medalist Abbey Vanduzer.
The following day, with another 10 cms falling, the racers spent the day training. Hayden and Johnathan strapped on the long skis for some Giant Slalom practice.
Unfortunately, with the roads becoming too slippery with snow, the busses couldn’t take the athletes to the Games Opening Ceremonies. Turning lemons into lemonaid, the para gang spent time bonding by using their free time tubing at the Horseshoe Valley Ski Resort, which is where the athletes were being housed.
Happily observing the pre-race curfew, an exhausted Hayden turned in early in preparation of the next day’s GS event.
Mother Nature Showed Up
The snow hadn’t let up since the start of the 3-day event, and day 3 started with transport from the hotel to the hill being the racers’ biggest challenge of the day. With their bus stuck and unable to make it, the para athletes hitched a ride with the able-bodied snowboarders who happily accommodated them.
With travel problems overcome, the racers got down to the business of tearing up the hill. And for Hayden, business was good.
Hayden and Johnathan dropped the hammer for the Giant Slalom event, throttling their way down the hill with blistering speed, completing both heats without missing a single gate. Both racer and guide could tell they had posted good times, and anxiously waited for their competitors and the able-bodied skiiers to finish their heats.
At last, the GS awards ceremonies began with the para results being the first announced.
In third place, bronze medalist Rebecca Mideros.
The silver medal went to Abbey Vanduzer.
In first place, with a time posted at 8 seconds faster than their next nearest competitor – both sit and stand-up skiiers – the gold medal was awarded to Hayden Denouden and his Guide Johnathan MacDonald!!!
With his last formal race of the season complete, Hayden is looking forward to what the upcoming Canadian Adaptive Snowsports (CADS) Festival at Sunpeaks British Columbia will bring. But before he and the family head west, we would all like to thank Johnathan MacDonald for guiding Hayden during the 2020 Ontario Winter Games.