By Andrew Mitchell
Kristi Richards had a breakthrough season with the Canadian Freestyle Ski Team in 2006-07, but is not content to focus on her own blossoming career.
This week Richards, who hails from Summerland and lives part-time in Whistler, announced the creation of the Supporting the Dream legacy fund to provide grants to athletes from the south Okanagan region. The Community Foundation of the South Okanagan will manage the money, and Sport B.C. will direct the funds to the qualifying athletes.
“My inspiration for the Supporting the Dream fund came from all the support I had from my community when I was going to the Olympics in Torino,” said Richards. “My community was behind me 100 per cent. It was awesome to see them come together to raise funds. They were part of my dream and part of my success.”
Okanagan residents and businesses have come together several times to raise funding for Richards, who had her best season yet with the national team, coming back from an injury and temporary leave of absence. She won moguls at the World Ski Championships at Madonna di Campliglio in Italy, a gold in dual moguls at Deer Valley, and bronze medals in Norway and in Canada at Apex Alpine Resort. She ended her season ranked fourth in moguls and 10 th in dual moguls.
The first round of funding for Supporting the Dream, will come from a dinner and auction at Sumac Ridge Estate Winery. Vincor Canada, the owner of Sumac Ridge, was named an official supplier to the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, and features the 2010 logo on its Sumac Ridge products.
Richards is aware how much it can cost an up and coming athlete to get to the national team.
“Equipment, coaching, airfare, dietary supplements, physiotherapy, sports psychologists — the list of expenses an athlete incurs is almost endless,” she said. “It costs a lot — especially when you’re just breaking into the national and international level. If we recognize potential in local athletes and we want to see them on the podium, then we as a community need to support them financially.”
Richards is the second member of the national team to set up a fund, after aerialist Ryan Blais established the Come Fly With Me foundation fund last November in conjunction with the Community Foundation of Greater Grande Prairie.