These Vancouver Island residents will be officiating at the Paralympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. From left: Len Apedaile, Francoise Ducret, Tom Kennedy, Marc Lyster and Joe Bajan. Photo supplied

Island officials off to Paralympics

Len Apedaile is leading a 10-person team of officials at the Pyeongchang Games.

As race director for cross-country skiing and biathlon, Black Creek resident Len Apedaile will be leading a 10-person team of officials at the Paralympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Past president of the Strathcona Nordics Ski Club, Apedaile is the head of technical control and officials for the World Para-Nordic Skiing Federation. He’s been travelling to Korea the past four years to support the technical planning of the Nordic events at the Games, which run from March 9-18. His team includes Vancouver Island Biathlon Club officials Joe Bajan of Nanaimo and Francoise Ducret of Victoria. Courtenay’s Marc Lyster — Nordic manager at Mount Washington – and Tom Kennedy of Comox will provide expert snow and course preparation, and grooming services at the Games.

“Marc and Tom are there as foreign expert groomers,” Apedaile said, noting the complexities of grooming for para-nordic skiing. “For the Paralympics, I insisted we bring some foreign expert groomers with us.”

Each of the five became involved in the sport when Mount Washington hosted Paralympic World Cups in 2007 and 2009, from where they participated in the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games. Apedaile, Bajan and Ducret also went to Sochi in 2014.

The team working at Pyeongchang represents a growing body of Canadian technical experts who work behind the scenes, providing opportunities for athletes to maximize their potential as they compete at the highest levels of their sport.

“Our athletes have a packed schedule, alternating between biathlon and cross-country,” said Apedaile, a volunteer firefighter in Oyster River. “In the Paralympics, we have three categories of athletes.”

The categories are sitting, standing and visually impaired, each of which has sub-categories, which are assigned a percentage.

“In principle, if the athletes were equally trained, they should finish in the same time.”

Biathlon incorporates an electronic shooting system that uses sound for aim. Visually impaired athletes ski with guides, who are equipped with waist packs containing speakers.

“That’s how the athletes follow them around,” Apedaile said. “They hone in on sound.”

About 670 athletes will compete at the XII Paralympic Winter Games — a 24 per cent increase from Sochi. The number includes a 44 per cent increase in the number of female competitors since 2014. Pyeongchang will feature six sports, with 80 medal events in total. Snowboarding will be expanded into a separate discipline for 2018, with 10 medal events.

Just Posted

Aspen Park students get into the Spirit (Day)

Friday fundraiser supported upcoming Camp Homewood excursion

NIDES sending two robotics teams to world championships

Navigate squads will be only Vancouver Island reps at VEX World Championships in Louisville

Dead rabbits found at Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds stoke concerns about Nanaimo virus

A B.C. wildlife veterinarian says a few of the dead bunnies will be sent for diagnosis next week.

Courtenay-Comox MLA talks water bottling business in Merville

Ronna-Rae Leonard remained neutral when asked if she opposes the proposed business

Celebrating our transit drivers on their day

March 18 is International Transit Driver Appreciation Day

B.C. VIEWS: Speculation tax, cabin tax or asset tax?

Targeting empty homes seems confused and ineffective

Inspections, training needed to prevent repeat of Fernie ammonia leak across B.C.

Ammonia is inherently dangerous and should be not used in skating and curling rinks, says one expert

RCMP move to arrest pipeline protesters at entrance to Trans Mountain work site

28 demonstrators began blocking the entrance to Kinder Morgan’s work site at about 10 a.m. Saturday

Federal government seeks public feedback on pedestrian safety

What safety measures do you think need to improved for pedestrians and cyclists?

4 facts to ring in St. Patrick’s Day

What do you really know about the Irish celebration?

Experts urging caution as rabbits die by the hundreds in B.C. city

Province of B.C. confirms more positive tests for rabbit haemorrhagic disease

Canucks snap scoreless streak but fall short in 5-3 loss to Sharks

Swiss forward Timo Meier nets two, including the game-winner, to lead San Jose

VIDEO: Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society Wildlife Festival

Inaugural Wildlife Festival in Merville Saturday, March 17

Most Read