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
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
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
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!"