Powerhouse skier is a man of many gifts

At the age of 20, local athlete Owen Munroe already has a long list of accomplishments next to his name.

At the age of 20, local athlete Owen Munroe already has a long list of accomplishments next to his name.

Yet, it appears the list will continue to grow in the coming year, and beyond.

After a spectacular performance last February at the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Quebec City — finishing fourth in the 2.5-kilometre Classic and first in the five-kilometre Classic — the cross-country skier has earned a position on the Canadian team.

That position makes Munroe the only Yukon athlete to represent Canada at the Special Olympics World Winter Games to be held in Boise, Idaho, in February.

“Excited,” Munroe simply said, when asked how he feels about going to Idaho to represent Canada. “I’m sure I’m going to have fun down there. It’s all about fun and trying my best.”

“I think it’s exciting that we have an athlete from Yukon as a member of team Canada,” said Serge Michaud, executive director of Special Olympics Yukon.

“It’s the first time in four years — four years ago we had another cross-country skier go to worlds in 2005 in Nagano, Japan, and competed quite well. So we’re excited we have an athlete on the team again.”

Even though Munroe has raised himself to the top of his sport in just four years and creamed his competition in the five-kilometre Classic, finishing five-minutes ahead of the next skier over the finish line, he nonetheless trains his hardest to improve.

“I hope I get to do more dry-land training and do lots of skiing in the wintertime,” said Munroe, when asked about his preparations for Idaho. “I will meet Team Canada in Toronto (in July) and go to some training camps.”

Munroe, who graduated from Vanier Catholic Secondary School last month, also enjoys curling, swimming and going for hikes in the backwoods.

“Leah, my coach, shows me better techniques and she gets me to get enough exercise in,” said Munroe of his coach Leah Greenway, who has been working with him for two-and-a-half years.

“She gets me to do some dry-land training at the Canada Games Centre in the fitness room. She has me go on the stationary bike, the treadmill and do some weightlifting.”

Not devoted exclusively to winter sports, Munroe has accomplished more than his fair share on the soccer field as well.

Acting as goalkeeper, Munroe’s helped bring his team to silver in British Columbia’s provincial tournament in 2005 and brought his team to bronze in a national tournament in 2007.

If you think all of that is a lot for a young man to handle, there’s still more.

Munroe also holds down three jobs.

The Blairmore, Alberta-born athlete, who moved to the Yukon with his parents as a youngster, works as a custodian at a local business and is part of the grounds crew at Robert Service Campground.

And perhaps most impressive of his present vocational pursuits, Munroe is a woodcarver. He plans to start selling his art soon.

Athlete, scholar and artist. This local dynamo is truly an inspiration.

“I believe it’s a real ode to Whitehorse to have another athlete to go and compete at an international stage,” said Michaud.

“I think Whitehorse has a lot to be proud of.”