Cross-country skier Lindsay Los says there’s always a lot of honking when she highway trains on her roller skis, but last week the room was quiet when she curtseyed before His Royal Highness Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, to receive the Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award in Vancouver.
Los, 19, completed a five-year quest to finish five disciplines of cultural and physical activities required in the three-level 50-year-old program that was first championed by H.R.H. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Last week she was the first in line to receive the highest level from Prince Edward at a ceremony at the Fairmont Waterfront hotel. Los said as the first of 116 B.C. and Yukon youth to receive the award she was extremely nervous, but the prince managed to calm her.
"When he got up, he sort of stretched, cracked his knuckles, made a joke and put us all at ease," she said.
Los had to curtsey in front of Prince Edward, one skill she hadn’t trained for in the five years leading up to the award. She signed up for the individualized, non-competitive program at 14 and worked through the three levels that had service, skills, and physical recreation requirements, as well as an expedition and residential requirement. To complete these tests Los trained in debating to volunteer as a debate judge, attained her grade six in piano, trained as a cross-country skier, hiked the west coast trail and went on a three-month school exchange to France. She said the experience has made her a better person.
"It shows that you’re an all round person that you can go out there and struggle…and be dedicated," she said.
Los who graduated from Crofton House in Vancouver, wants to be an astronaut and has just finished the first year of mechanical engineering at Carleton University in Ottawa. A competitive tennis player and cross-country skier she trains year round and hopes to compete in the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Los said after the ceremony she got to speak to the prince informally and ask him about his expedition experience, hiking in Scotland, for the Gold Award. "He was very casual, friendly and really nice to talk to."