Canadian alpine skier to wear helmet designed by teen cancer patient at Sochi Olympics

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Canadian Alpine skier Brad Spence knows a bit about perseverance.

After suffering a pretty gruesome broken leg just before the Torino Olympics in 2006, he was told that he might never ski again. Through sheer determination he made it back to compete on home snow at the Vancouver Olympics four years later.

As Spence takes to the Rosa Khutor slope in Sochi for his second Games, he will bring with him a constant reminder of the power of courage and resolve.

According to a story in the Calgary Herald, the 29-year-old will wear a race helmet adorned with the artwork of Gillian O’Blenes, a 17-year-old cancer patient, when he competes in the men’s slalom on Feb. 22.

“Knowing how much she’s had to overcome … she’s been a huge inspiration to me and I’m just honored to have this opportunity,’’ Spence said.

A promising dancer, O’Blenes is currently undergoing chemotherapy at the Alberta Children’s Hospital for Osteosarcoma, a bone cancer that affects approximately 400 children under the age of 20 in the United States each year.

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Spence and O’Blenes met through one of her nurses at the hospital and the two struck an immediate friendship. While visiting her in December, he was enamored with some drawings she was doing on a blank piece of paper and he suggested the idea of designing a helmet.source:

“Her doodling to me looked incredible,’’ Spence said. “I left that day thinking I’d love to help her share in my journey to the Olympics. I presented her with a red helmet just before Christmas.’’

After about six hours of work with a Sharpie, she came up with the red, black, white and gold geometric designs on Spence’s helmet.

“I think for me it’s really about perseverance and not giving up, as cliché as that may sound,’’ O’Blenes said. “It was therapeutic to do that helmet. It’s something I can do when I’m waiting in bed and to do it for someone else who believes in me is pretty cool. As much as he always says I inspire him, he’s the one that really inspires me so it’s a mutual relationship.’’

As for being part of Spence’s Olympic experience, O’Blenes added, “I’ll be watching and cheering him on every step of the way. It’ll be super cool to see him race, it’ll be super cool to see him wearing my helmet … how great is that!’’

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Saudi Arabia to host 2029 Asian Winter Games

Olympic Council of Asia

Saudi Arabia will host the Asian Winter Games in 2029 in mountains near the $500 billion futuristic city project Neom.

The Olympic Council of Asia on Tuesday picked the Saudi candidacy that centers on Trojena that is planned to be a year-round ski resort by 2026.

“The deserts & mountains of Saudi Arabia will soon be a playground for Winter sports!” the OCA said in a statement announcing its decision.

Saudi sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal said the kingdom’s winter sports project “challenges perception” in a presentation of the plan to OCA members.

“Trojena is the future of mountain living,” the minister said of a region described as an area of about 60 square kilometers at altitude ranging from 1,500 to 2,600 meters.

The Neom megaproject is being fund by the Saudi sovereign wealth vehicle, the Public Investment Fund.

Saudi Arabia also will host the Asian Games in 2034 in Riyadh as part of aggressive moves to build a sports hosting portfolio and help diversify the economy from reliance on oil.

A campaign to host soccer’s 2030 World Cup is expected with an unprecedented three-continent bid including Egypt and Greece.

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Jim Redmond, who helped son Derek finish 1992 Olympic race, dies


Jim Redmond, who helped his injured son, Derek, finish his 1992 Olympic 400m semifinal, died at age 81 on Sunday, according to the British Olympic Association, citing family members.

At the 1992 Barcelona Games, Derek pulled his right hamstring 15 seconds into his 400m semifinal, falling to the track in anguish.

He brushed off help from officials, got up and began limping around the track. About 120 meters from the finish line, he felt the presence of an uncredentialed man who rushed down the stadium stairs, dodged officials and said, “We started this together, and we’re going to finish this together,” according to

“As I turned into the home straight, I could sense this person was about to try and stop me,” Derek said in an NBC Olympics profile interview before the 2012 London Games. “I was just about to get ready to sort of fend them off, and then I heard a familiar voice of my dad. He said, ‘Derek, it’s me. You don’t need to do this.'”

Derek said he shouted to his dad that he wanted to finish the race.

“He was sort of saying things like, ‘You’ve got nothing to prove. You’re a champion. You’ll come back. You’re one of the best guys in the world. You’re a true champion. You’ve got heart. You’re going to get over this. We’ll conquer the world together,'” Derek remembered. “I’m just sort of saying, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.'”

At one point, Derek noticed stadium security, not knowing who Jim was, having removed guns from their holsters.

“It’s the only time I’ve ever heard my dad use bad language,” Derek said. “He just goes, ‘Leave him alone, I’m his father.'”

Derek told himself in that moment, “I’m going to finish this race if it’s the last race I ever run.” It turned out to be the last 400m race of his career, after surgery and 18 months of rehab were not enough to yield a competitive comeback, according to Sports Illustrated.

Derek had missed the 1988 Seoul Games after tearing an Achilles, reportedly while warming up for his opening race. He looked strong in Barcelona, winning his first-round heat and quarterfinal.

“I’d rather be seen to be coming last in the semifinal than not finish in the semifinal,” he said, “because at least I can say I gave it my best.”