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Jennifer Hart in the NEWS

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The the article posted HERE:

Teenage snowborder to carry Olympic torch through Shubie

FALL RIVER: Jennifer Hart will get to experience an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as an Olympic Torchbearer.

The Fall River resident learned Oct. 2, she was chosen from amongst the million-plus entries to be a Coca-Cola 2010 Olympics Torchbearer in a community near her. In her case, she will get to carry the Torch as it makes its way through Nova Scotia en route to Vancouver, in time for the Olympic Games in February, when it makes a stop in Shubenacadie on Day 18 of the torch run, Nov. 18.

“I thought it would be something to do and it would be great to be a part of the whole Olympic torch run,” Jenn said.

In May, Jenn applied to Coca-Cola to become a torchbearer. She received word in July, via e-mail, asking her to write an essay on how she or a group have had an impact on the environment. That was easy, because she is a member of a youth group named Helping the Earth by Acting Together (HEAT), which is based out of Halifax and includes youth from Fall River, Sackville and Halifax.

“We do a lot of environmental things across Nova Scotia to raise awareness, so it (the essay) was right up my alley,” she added.

Then, two weeks ago when Jenn checked her e-mail to her surprise there was a message from ICoke. She couldn’t contain herself as she opened the message from SOGO Active, a subsidiary of ICoke for teens and the letters spelling Congratulations came across the screen, explaining she had been selected. She will get to carry the torch, wearing Olympic clothing she gets to keep. She also has the option of purchasing the torch, which she quickly asserted she would be.

“It’s going to be pretty amazing to have the chance to be a part of it, carrying the torch has a long history of being very important in the Olympics,” Jenn explained. “It unites the whole country with the rest of the world to be together. I think it’s pretty unbelievable that I get to be a part of that and help out Canada to host our Olympics.”

Scott Tabachnick, Corporate Communications Manager with Coca-Cola Canada, said as a presenting partner of the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay, Coca-Cola had the opportunity to select Torchbearers. As part of their partnership with ParticipACTION, they created an active living program designed to encourage Canadian youth to make a lifelong commitment to physical activity and that result was SOGO Active, www.sogoactive.com.

“We’re hoping the torchbearers we selected, such as Jenn, will serve as a collective call to all Canadians to live positively by making the same commitments as our torchbearers - commitments to active living or environmental sustainability,” Tabachnick said.

Jenn, a Grade 11 student at Fall River’s Lockview High School will not only carry the torch, but hopes to one day participate in the Olympics in her sport of Alpine snowboarding. Currently, Jenn is a member of the core development team for Nova Scotia 2011 Canada Games Alpine snowboarding team.

The 16-year-old became interested in alpine snowboarding in Grade 5, thanks to the RBC Riders program sponsored by the Royal Bank and with the support of the folks at Ski Martock. “I have loved it ever since,” she said.

“I did well at it and was scouted by the Nova Scotia Provincial team coach.

He (coach Steve Fairbairn) told me if you want this (Alpine snowboarding) would be more of a challenge for you,” Jenn said. “I was then asked to train alongside the development team, which was the Ski Martock race team and did that season and he said ‘alright, it seems to be not challenging you enough’ so I was asked to join the N.S. provincial team.”

In 2008, she competed at her first-ever Nor-Am national competition in Ontario and finished 25th , racing against athletes who are on Canada’s national team, like Dominique Maltais and Maelle Ricker who will compete in Snowboard cross (SBX) in the Vancouver Olympics.

“It’s a real eye-opener to race against them and see how much they put into it and see how hard they train,” she said. “You learn a lot from them. We went to B.C. to train with them at their summer camp and to see the training they do. To be able to train alongside them and lookup to them and say ‘wow, you’re my idol. I’d love to be just like you one day’, it was great.”

Jenn does have two home-grown locals she looks up to, Sarah Conrad and Alexandra Duckworth, both who finished one-two at a recent national championship. They both also began their snowboarding careers at Ski Martock’s program and got scouted.

“To follow in their footsteps and represent Nova Scotia at Canada Games would be a dream come true” she said. “It would be really cool if I could become as good as Alex Duckworth or Sarah Conrad in my own discipline of parallel giant slalom (PGS) and SBX.”

But, to be like them will be a hard training regime, something Jenn is becoming accustomed to. The Canada Games team’s regime consists of training as a team once a week plus individual training, physical testing every three to four months, nutrition and psychology lectures. And all that was just the summer training.

“In the winter we have multiple training camps that we go to,” she added.

On Nov. 25, the team will be heading to Italy to train for 10 days on the Italian glaciers in preparation for the coming season.

The reason is simple. Because competitions start in January and N.S. doesn’t get snow that early to avoid getting behind as teams in Western Canada have already begun their training, the team will get in their training during these 10 days.

“We’ll get to see the teams over there, so we’ll see the Italian and Swiss teams training,” Jenn said.

But what has Jenn on cloud nine this month is being able to be a part of the torch run.

“It’s all huge steps in my aspirations as a snowboarder,” she added. “I’m pretty excited to be a part of it.”

The core team currently consists of 10 athletes. However, only two guys and two girls for each discipline will be able to partake in the 2011 Canada Games, in Halifax, so Jenn has a tough road ahead. The coaching staff told the team members the N.S. team will be chosen in late 2010.

Jenn explained to make the team she will have to attain certain goals as she attends Nor-Am’s. Her chances also ride on how well she does result wise at nationals and provincials. That alone would be enough for the faintest at heart to crack under the pressure, especially in a year that’s the most important education-wise. But Jenn takes it all in stride. She wished to thank all her coaches, teammates, family and friends for all the support they have given her as she pursues her goals.

“Trying to find the balance between school, family, snowboarding and training is pretty hard,” Jenn said. “I don’t have a lot of time for extra stuff. Schoolwork takes up a lot of time in Grade 11, trying hard to maintain a high average, and then you realize it’s the year before Canada Games, so it’s like alright pressure’s on to make this team. Hopefully I’ll be cool under the pressure.”

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