Winter Games

Skier fights injury to make it to Winter Games

By Michelle Martin and Melanie Reader
Pasadena Academy
Pasadena, Newfoundland


For Heidi Brake, the Canada Winter Games has been the ultimate goal. This sixteen-year-old, who was raised in Pasadena, has been working hard for a position on the Alpine Ski team representing Newfoundland and Labrador.

Since age 4, Brake has been skiing on the slopes of Marble Mountain. In her youth, she was active in the former Nancy Greene ski team, but when she reached her teens, she found her place as a Marble Mountain Racer.

During her first year as a racer, she was informed by her coach that she would be the required age to compete in the Canada Winter Games. It was then that she set her mind on achieving that dream. Since then, Brake has been training hard to compete against the best on the Rock for a position on the team.

On March 1, 1997, Brake had an unfortunate accident. During the Marble Cup, an annual competition at Marble Mountain, Brake tried to turn, caught a ski edge and fell. The accident left her with a broken thumb and damages to her knee which, at the time did not seem to be extensive.

One month later the verdict was in: Brake would have to wear a knee brace for any physical activity that she was involved in. The brace extends from her upper thigh to mid-calf. Also, she began a program of physiotherapy to regain the strength in her knee.

This obstacle was definitely a serious one to overcome. Besides getting used to the large brace covering most of her leg, Brake had to work hard to get her knee back in the best shape as she could. She worked hard and, ultimately, earned the position of the female alternate on the Canada Games team along with both guys and girls from Labrador City, Clarenville, Corner Brook and surrounding areas.

"I've heard that some alternates on other teams believed they were not being treated quite equally but my coaches and team, have gone out of their way to make me feel equal, " says Brake. "Except for the part I may not race, no one would be able to tell I was an alternate!"

But Brake doubts that her injury had any influence on her position on the teams.

"Personally, I believe that it has had no affect. I've had to just work harder at the gym which just got me in shape anyways!" 

Brake is looking forward to the Canada Games and is in high spirits. She is nervous because she and her team are representing their entire province in Alpine Skiing. She's also happy that she was chosen to be on the team, but most of all, she feels important and special.

Besides being determined, nervous and excited, Brake is a strong believer in friendship. Brake will be staying in Athletes Village. She believes that by staying with other athletes it will give her a chance to meet a lot of new people. She also believes that it will make the Games even better and hopes that friendships made during the Games will not end when the Games end but will continue for a lifetime, just like her memories of the Games.

Brake also believes that the Games will have another positive effect on herself and her team members.

"I think it will give us more experience," Brake says. "If someone were to win and were scouted out by a ski academy, they would probably pursue it because we all love to ski. Also, a memory will be created and we will all hold it forever."

Brake has shown many of the characteristics of an excellent athlete. Her determination in getting past and beyond her obstacle tells anyone that. Brake also offered advice to any young athlete who is in her same situation.

"Don't believe people if they tell you it [injury] might stop you,"says Brake, "You might have to work harder but it's true, if you set your mind to something, it can happen!"