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Sunday, May. 19, 2019
Para-nordic skier with a busy summer of training
by Randy Pascal

Collin Cameron has come a long, long way since launching himself full throttle into the sport of para-nordic racing in the fall of 2015 – all of which is taking him now a long, long way from home.

The 29 year-old, who was born and raised in Bracebridge but moved to Sudbury some five years ago, was named to the Team Canada 2017-2018 World Cup team in early May. Cameron and his teammates currently find themselves training at altitude in scenic Bend (Oregon), returning home briefly before making their way to New Zealand for a three week summer (winter down there) training camp.

Quite heady stuff, for a young man who kind of wandered into the para-nordic scene, having focused moreso on sledge hockey involvement in prior years. Working with coach Patti Kitler from the outset, Cameron showed a natural ability to race, travelling overseas for events after just six months of training.

A year and a half later, his development has culminated, so far, with his first World Cup sit-ski victory this past March in South Korea. His ascension, though remarkable, is largely a product of the work that he has been willing to put in, with Kitler at his side.

“I’m definitely more of a total package now, in terms of being an athlete in the sport, for sure,” he said a few weeks back. “I’ve been taking advantage of all those opportunities, with different trips and such, and then spending the summer doing dryland training and progressing pretty quickly, I suppose.”

While it is clear that the upper body strength that was created by virtue of dealing with the effects of athrogryposis, a disease that causes a shortness of the legs and under-development of the muscles and tendons in the legs, provided a solid base to his para-nordic power, the technical aspect of the sport would take time to master – and still does.

“My poling technique is quite a bit different from most of the other sit-skiers,” Cameron explained. “It’s based, in part, on how I sit as an individual, because everyone sits differently. It’s trying to fine tune that, I’m still trying to fine tune that with the coaches. It will always be a work in progress.”

Though some might find frustration in not enjoying an easy to replicate movement based on their competitors in a sport, Cameron sees the other side of that coin. “That’s what makes me enjoy it even more,” he said. “I love learning more about it. It almost seems that every time I am at a training camp, I am always learning something.”

Truthfully, it represents a kind of youthful enthusiasm in everything that he is currently experiencing, chatting about the unbelievable beauty of the Oregon camp location, on the eastern edge of the Cascade Range, and moving on to his excitement for his upcoming trip to New Zealand. “We have a really good solid two weeks of really good skiing on excellent snow coming up,” he said. “All the training I have done has paid off.”

His is clearly a commitment that could not be made without the support of his wife, Marley, with whom he recently celebrated his one year anniversary. “It’s my lifestyle now, everything has shifted towards working, training and family life,” he said. “That’s pretty much what I do.”

“I think that’s pretty much what you have to do to compete against the world’s best athletes.” Looking forward to converting on his previous success in Korea when the Paralympics return to the venue in 2018, Cameron is prone to more general goal-setting when discussing the next few years.

“Stay healthy and still love the sport would be the biggest key element to me,” he said. “And one podium finish is really not enough.”

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