Olympian Beckie Scott delivers inspiring speech to local crowd.

Olympian crosses finish line of Road To the Olympics

Cross country gold medalist Beckie Scott spoke to a sold out crowd at the Fernie Museum on Saturday evening, March 7 as the final bow to the museum’s Road To the Olympics series.

The series has seen Olympic champions Mark Tewksbury, swimmer, and Kevin Martin, curler, come to Fernie and partner up with local sports initiatives like the Fernie Dolphin Swim Club, Fernie Curling Club and the Fernie Nordic Society.

In addition to partnering with these athletic groups, the Olympians have presented their journeys at the Fernie Museum where their larger-than-life colourblocked portraits by Alberta artist Gordon Milne hang on the walls.

“This is new for us and when we thought of how to program this exhibit we were encouraged to

Cross country gold medalist Beckie Scott spoke of her Olympic journey and how she combatted doping at this international level.
Cross country gold medalist Beckie Scott spoke of her Olympic journey and how she combatted doping at this international level.

highlight that on the ‘Road To the Olympics’, none of the athletes captured here [in the museum’s gallery] had the benefit of going to high performance schools,” said Fernie Museum Director Ron Ulrich. “A lot of these athletes came from small communities just like Fernie. And we really wanted to use this exhibit to encourage people to see that you don’t have to live in a big community to get ahead.”

That sentiment could certainly be extended to Scott who, in addition to speaking of her journey to Olympic gold, spoke of her humble beginnings in an Alberta town with an approximate population of 5,000.

Upon her first attendance to the Olympics in 1998 in Nagano, Japan her small hometown sent her off with a parade and she left with high hopes.

Scott finished in 45th that year.

Undeterred, Scott’s inspiring journey continued to the 2002 Salt Lake City games where she had to find strength within herself to speak out against doping and the use of performance enhancing drugs within the sport. The result of which catapulted her then-bronze winning medal in the five-kilometer pursuit into a gold upon the disqualification of both the first and second-place winners.

“A lot of people have asked me what happened that took you from 45th in those Olympics to four years later a gold medal? And I think the really short answer is I just really wanted to,” said Scott. “It was very hard to persist and continue to find a reason to want to go on and believe, but I did. I held on to this notion that although I did not yet know that I could do it, I didn’t know that I couldn’t and I couldn’t live with the fact that I hadn’t yet exhausted every possible way to try and get there and get more out of myself and be better.”

Scott continued, “In reflection, I think that being at the back of the pack was really the best place I could have started from. First, because there was nowhere to go but up. But more importantly because I think I learned more from failure and being at the bottom than starting at the top. I learned more about persistence and resilience and commitment and what it really takes to where you want to go. Failure taught me a lot. And fortunately I was a good student.”

Scott also paralleled her Olympic dream journey with amusing anecdotes of her falling in love with cross-country skiing as a child.

“I once heard a comedian describe cross country skiing as alpine skiing with the fun taken out of it,” quipped Scott, eliciting laughter from the audience.

Scott was also in town to support Fernie's cross country skiing efforts — cutting a ribbon alongside the mayor at the opening of the new nordic trails.
Scott was also in town to support Fernie’s cross country skiing efforts — cutting a ribbon alongside the mayor at the opening of the new nordic trails.

“But the more I raced the more I realized this is my path, this is where I belong, this is what I want to do. And the more I felt like that and how great my desire was to keep racing, I kept pushing myself to see where I could go.”

Earlier in the evening, Scott signed autographs and spoke to attendees during the event’s wine and cheese social.

She also highlighted her philanthropic efforts of bringing cross-country skiing to First Nations communities across Alberta as well as delivering information to these communities about maintaining an active lifestyle and personal health.

Appeared in print March 12, 2015 and online at The Free Press.

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