Salmon Arm’s Natalie Wilkie, left, skied to two golds, a silver and then a bronze in the recent Paralympic Games in Beijing, while Jaeden Izik-Dzurko took first place in the Hilton Head International Piano Competition which, in addition to a cash award, also comes with a recital at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall on Oct. 14, 2022. (Photos contributed)

Salmon Arm’s Natalie Wilkie, left, skied to two golds, a silver and then a bronze in the recent Paralympic Games in Beijing, while Jaeden Izik-Dzurko took first place in the Hilton Head International Piano Competition which, in addition to a cash award, also comes with a recital at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall on Oct. 14, 2022. (Photos contributed)

Column: Young Salmon Arm champions share much in common

Trail Tales by Marcia Beckner

By Marcia Beckner

Contributor

It has been an exciting time this past few weeks following our very own local champions – Natalie Wilkie and Jaeden Izik-Dzurko.

Glued to the tube, we were, during the Beijing Paralympics as Natalie skied to two golds, a silver, then capped it off with a bronze in the relay. Glued to the computer as Jaeden, starting on March 8, played his way through the South Carolina Hilton Head International Piano Competition of 120 competitors to the final 6, culminating in the gold medal last week with his Rachmaninoff, which had the audience jump to their feet, and us jumping around the computer room with excitement!

At 21 and 22, these remarkable performer/competitors have alot in common. We watched both grow up. Jaeden played the piano from a young age, but he also cross-country skied on the Larch Hills race team. We remember him on the trails. And now, when he comes home in the winter, he makes sure he gets out for a ski with his dad.

Natalie has skied since she was very young but she was also an accomplished piano player. When she lost four fingers on her left hand at 16, she enthusiastically embraced Paranordic skiing but also kept playing the piano, albeit inventively. A lot these two have in common indeed!

Ski conditions on the hill are very good. Warmer temperatures make for soft snow, but the track setter or Ginzu groomer crew is still going out making lovely tracks to follow on ski outings. The highlight this time of year is to ski the clearcuts.

Last weekend we skied the Sentinel clearcut. One can ski absolutely anywhere on it, among the new, wee trees emerging from the snow! There is soft snow on the top of hard crust below. Fat basket poles are a must.

Backcountry is still very good. Reports of skiing the Great Circle last Sunday make me want to do it before the season has ended. Sidehill Salmon and Big Tree Alley are favourite backcountry areas, just beyond North Hub. Blessed we are to have such wonderful trackset trails plus backcountry trails in one ski area. We are the envy of many nordic ski clubs!

Check the Larch Hills Nordics website for current conditions and where the tracksetter has gone that day. Biggest challenge is the road and parking lot. Just drive carefully on the pothole-infested road, and park on the parking lot edges to avoid the worst of the mud.

Larch Hills skiers at the National Championships at Whistler’s Callaghan Valley this week are enjoying their experience. Skiers from ski clubs across Canada, plus from many universities competing in their Nationals, plus from the U.S.

Go Larch Hills! For results go to Zone 4.ca.

Happy spring! We’ll catch the last of the skiing in the Larch Hills as we move into April.

Read more: Salmon Arm Paralympian adds fourth medal from Beijing

Read more: Salmon Arm athlete’s gold rush continues in exciting Paralympic Games sprint

Read more: Salmon Arm’s Jaeden Izik-Dzurko takes first place in international piano competition


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