Support4Sport

I believe that if you can dream it, you can achieve it. And Support4Sport helped to make my Olympic dreams come true.

Adrienne Power, 200m Sprinter
Olympian

Alex Duckworth

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Alex
Duckworth
For the love of the sport
Alex Duckworth
Athlete

Alex Duckworth
Kingsburg, Nova Scotia
Snowboarder – Canadian Halfpipe Rider
Canadian Snowboard Team – 2014 Olympic Winter Games

Skiing or snowboarding? It’s an annual debate at many dinner tables, and even the inspiration for an article in the Economist. But ask Alexandra (Alex) Duckworth, and the answer is easy.

“It’s a pretty classic story,” says the 26-year-old from Kingsburg, a fishing village on Nova Scotia’s south shore. “Like lots of ten-year-olds, I started skiing because my parents were skiers. But once my sister and I tried snowboarding, skiing was a thing of the past.”

When coach Dwayne Schofield met Alex at Ski Martock, he knew she was going places. Despite her small size, he was impressed by how tough she was, both physically and mentally.

“She was a really cool kid from the moment I met her. She didn't say a whole lot in the beginning and she was tiny. Her goggles covered up most of her face,” he laughs, adding that what set her apart was her lack of fear. “She would go at everything full speed and was getting bigger air than most of the young guys I was coaching at the time.”

When she first started snowboarding competitively, Alex threw herself into all of the disciplines: slalom, boardercross, and freestyle. Early on, she discovered that freestyle snowboarding was rooted in creativity, music and social dynamics. These qualities defined the sport for Alex, making competition enjoyable.

“I thought it was really special that you could take a competitive environment and throw a creative edge at it,” she says. “As a judged sport, there's a lot of emphasis on style, and having that sort of creative license is such an important part of my personal development.”

In the 14 years since she started, Alex has gone on to win two national titles and a Canada Games gold medal, earning her a spot on the Canadian Halfpipe team. Despite her hard work, Alex suffered a broken ankle during qualifications, falling short of making the 2010 Vancouver Olympic team by one position.

For developing and elite athletes, gold medal dreams can seem out of reach despite their talent and hard work. Coach Schofield isn’t sure people realize the sacrifice, commitment and expense that goes along with being a high performance athlete.

“It has to be a full-time job. Even if you have everything it takes to be an Olympic medalist, you have to have the means to travel, compete and train,” he says. “We have talented, driven athletes in this province and it makes us proud to see them competing at their best. This can only happen when they receive financial support.”

Alex is a perfect example. When she finished high school, she wasn’t eligible for national funding programs. She had to work half of the year to save money, leaving her out of pre-season training camps.

That’s where Support4Sport came in. Introduced by the Nova Scotia Provincial Lotteries and Casino Corporation in 2006, Support4Sport has raised more than $21 million through the sale of designated ticket lottery products to provide important funding to amateur and high performance athletes, coaches and community sport organizations.

Support4Sport is a special advantage for athletes in Nova Scotia,” says Alex. “It allowed me to attend summer training camps, which opened my eyes to all the possibilities, including the Olympics. As my longest standing source of funding, Support4Sport continually reminds me that athletes are not totally on their own and that’s a big factor when you’re training.”

When she’s not catching air on the slopes, Alex spends time with her family and volunteers to help other young girls participate in the sport. One such organization is Adrenaline Divas, founded by coach and Support4Sport funding recipient Natasha Burgess to encourage more female participation in a traditionally male dominated sport.

“We’ve seen the biggest growth in girls participating in snowboarding here in Nova Scotia than anywhere else in the country,” says Alex. “I’m so proud to be involved with such an incredible and worthwhile effort.”

On January 21, 2014, Alex’s hard work paid off when she was officially named to the Canadian Olympic Snowboarding team and was off to Sochi to fulfill her dream of representing her country. In her Olympic debut, Alex qualified for the semi-finals but didn’t make it through to the finals. Support poured in via social media from across Nova Scotia and an entire province was beaming with pride.

Determined to make the most of her Olympic experience, Alex believes there is more to it than winning. “I'm learning how to keep things in perspective. As an athlete, I think it's so important to stay tuned to the love of your sport and make sure you're having fun.”

And that she did.

www.snowboardnovascotia.ca

Location

Kingsburg, NS
Canada
44° 0' 15.3396" N, 62° 55' 6.7836" W

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