Nineteen-year-old Luke Smith is hoping to make the provincial Special Olympics team this winter.

Nineteen-year-old Luke Smith is hoping to make the provincial Special Olympics team this winter.

Alpine skier sets sights on Special Olympics

Luke Smith is fearless on the ski hills of Hudson Bay Mountain.

Luke Smith is fearless on the ski hill.

“It’s good. You can go fast, [there’s a lot of] speed. I just hope I can win the next competition this year and hope I can do it again next year,” said Smith.

Over the years, the 19-year-old Smithers resident has transformed his love for alpine skiing into an intense passion, training on the slopes of Hudson Bay Mountain.

Most recently, he has set his sights on competing in the Special Olympics.

Last year, Luke made the Special Olympics regional team, but is aiming to make the provincial team this winter.

Tryouts are at Big White in Kelowna and if he makes the team, Smith could also be on his way to compete with the national team.

“Once the season is on he’s pretty focused,” said his father Rod. “Luke’s very competitive. Even when he was younger, he didn’t even like you if you walked in front of him. He had to be in front of everyone.”

Luke began skiing when he was just two years old. Since then, he has developed into a confident and powerful alpine skier.

Eric Person coached Luke last year and will continue coaching him this season as well.

He said Luke isn’t afraid of anything on the slopes.

“He’s fearless, he loves speed. The focus now is to get on to the provincial team to go to nationals and that will be next year,” said Person. “It’s just about putting on miles, lots of miles now.”

With snow set to hit the mountain in a few months, Luke will soon be in full swing, practising throughout the week by himself and with the Smithers Ski and Snowboard Club in preparation for tryouts.

“I go to the gym once a week throughout the winter months, I take two months off for the summer and a few days off for Christmas time and I just keep going,” said Luke.

Luke may be fearless skiing down hills, but he said he draws inspiration from his older brother Jamie.

“His brother played hockey at a fairly high level. We were always talking to him about dedication and this opportunity came along for alpine skiing for the Special Olympics,” said Rod. “He decided he would like to try and see where it would take him. A lot of it had to do with his brother who was competitive.”

Luke is one of 25 local athletes who will begin training for the Special Olympics in Austria in 2017.

On Saturday, Oct. 4, the organization is holding a dinner and silent auction at Pioneer Place to raise money for sporting opportunities for local athletes hoping to make it to the Games.

Tickets are $25 per person and all proceeds from the silent auction will stay within the community.

For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Donna Smith at 250-847-9004.