Two members of St.Amant’s community, Michael Milani and Jacqueline “Jackie” Trudeau, made the Special Olympics Team Canada (SOTC) 2022 Training Squad!
Michael and Jackie are alpine skiers. For years they have trained to compete in the Special Olympics World Winter Games. Now that they’ve made it on the SOTC 2022 Training Squad the Games are just at their fingertips.
“It’s a pretty awesome accomplishment,” smiles Jackie.
This is Jackie’s first time on the SOTC Training Squad. Michael, on the other hand, was previously on the SOTC Training Squad in 2017.
“I’m very proud of them,” says their coach Ron Struch. “Michael is quite skilled at turning at the gates, Jackie is fast, and they’re impressive skiers.”
In 2020, both athletes were on Team Manitoba. As part of Team Manitoba they competed in the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games.
“Their performance at the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games is what got them a spot on the (SOTC 2022) Training Squad,” says Ron.
At the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games, alpine skiers must compete in three disciplines: slalom, giant slalom, and super giant slalom (super-G). Michael got a medal in each discipline. Although Jackie only got a medal in two disciplines, she received a gold medal in the super giant slalom discipline, making her the best female giant slalom skier in Canada for the Special Olympics.
Michael Milani with his coach, Ron Struch.
Before qualifying for Team Manitoba and Team Canada, Michael and Jackie were in the Special Olympics Manitoba’s Team Edge Alpine Ski program. Ron has been coaching Michael since 2006 and Jackie since 2012.
“I’ve been free skiing since I was four and when I was a teenager I started training for the Special Olympics,” says Michael.
According to their coach, one of the reasons Michael and Jackie are such good skiers is because they’ve skied in the West. Manitoba’s snow hills are exceptionally small in comparison to the great, daunting mountains of Alberta and British-Columbia.
Due to the pandemic, the athletes of the SOTC 2022 Training Squad are training virtually.
“The Training Squad has a website that gives us access to training videos,” explains Jackie. “The website tracks our nutrition, our fitness and our mindfulness.”
In addition to training virtually, the athletes of the SOTC 2022 Training Squad have been training individually at home or at the gym. Being on the SOTC 2022 Training Squad means that they’ve committed to training five times a week, which is a more intense training program than what they followed when they were on Team Manitoba. However, their coach is confident that they’ll easily adjust.
“Michael is a very focused athlete and Jackie is a physical training guru,” says Ron.
The Special Olympics World Winter Games will be held in Russia in 2022.
“It’ll be a blast,” says Jackie. “I’ve never been to Russia, I can’t wait to see what kind of hills they have up there.”
Jackie with her gold medal.