After snowshoeing for only a year, Brandon Fortin has qualified to compete in the sport in the 2019 Special Olympics Ontario Provincial Winter Games, to be held in Sault Ste. Marie Jan. 31 to Feb. 3, 2019.
Born and raised in the Sault, Brandon will be competing in front of the hometown crowd.
“It feels good. My friends will come and watch me,” Brandon told SooToday.
Excited to learn he qualified for the games, Brandon, 22, said “(snowshoeing) gives me good exercise and time to spend with friends.”
Brandon enjoys voyages on his family’s 32-foot power boat throughout the summer, playing video games, fishing, swimming, bowling, attending Soo Greyhounds games (having gotten all the Hounds autographs, his favourite player is Cole MacKay) and curling (Brandon’s mother Chris will be coaching five athletes in curling in the 2019 games).
“He’s had two back surgeries and he’s had his knees and hips done, so for him to be able to compete is pretty cool...it’s exciting,” Chris said.
A busy young man, currently training to be a cook as a second-year Sault College Culinary Program student, Brandon said he enjoys preparing pasta dishes.
Brandon also works as a janitor for Belterra, a conveyor belt shop located on Second Line East.
Prior to the snow arriving this week (seemingly for good), Brandon did dry land training for snowshoeing for several weeks at the Fort Creek Conservation Area.
“We walked the trail for an hour at a time to build up our muscles, our endurance,” Brandon said.
With the snow now here, Brandon will be ramping up his training.
“He’s a busy kid between work and school, and now he’s got the games on top of it. The games are going to be something for him to look forward to,” said Brandon’s father Jamie.
“I’m sure he’ll push every year (to keep competing in sports). He’s very competitive,” said Jamie of Brandon, who won a silver medal in bocce in the Special Olympics Ontario School Championships in 2014.
The 2019 Special Olympics Ontario Provincial Winter Games will consist of Nordic skiing, Alpine skiing, figure skating, speed skating, curling and snowshoeing, to be held at the John Rhodes Community Centre, GFL Memorial Gardens, Community First Curling Centre, Searchmont Ski Resort and Hiawatha.