Laidler wins bronze in Austria


By Barb McKay

Kincardine figure skater Rosie Laidler brought home a bronze medal from the Special Olympics World Winter Games, held in Austria late last month.


Rosie Laidler with her World Winter Games medals.


Laidler competed on March 23 in Level 5 free skate and placed third out of six competitors. She had butterflies leading up to her performance but managed to quell them by the time she stepped onto the ice.

“It felt good,” she said. “I was nervous, but the head coach calmed me down and I tried to calm myself down.”

All the hard work she had put into her routine in the months leading up to the World Winter Games paid off, earning her a place on the podium.

“I looked at the marks after and said, ‘what just happened?’”

Rosie’s mother Joy Laidler said her daughter faced stiff competition.

“It was a tough group, which is what you want. It was a good competition.”

A fellow Canadian won gold in the same competition. In all, Canadian figure skaters had an opportunity to collectively win 23 medals and returned home last week with 22. A team of figure skaters, of which Laidler was a member, won gold for dance. The competition was held for the first time this year as a demonstration sport.

“They are trying to get dance added as a Special Olympics event, so it was a nice bonus to get an extra medal,” Joy said.

Canadian spectators had their own seating section at the arena in Graz, Austria, and Laidler’s parents, Joy and Ray, were joined by 10 family members from Canada, the United Kingdom and France to watch her compete.

“I had never had that big of a cheering squad before,” Laidler said. “It was exciting.”

She is pleased with the results of her performance and earned high praise.

“My head coach and the World coach were pleased with my performance. They couldn’t believe how I had improved since the last time.”

Laidler previously competed at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Alaska in 2001, and earned gold and silver medals.

Being at the World Winter Games amongst hundreds of athletes from around the globe, including 110 from Team Canada, was an experience in itself. On her first full day in Austria, Laidler and fellow Ontario athletes enjoyed a tour of the host town, Weiner Neustadt. She also had opportunity to get to know other athletes and cheer on her teammates.

Laidler’sskating practices provided their own level of excitement – they took place on an outdoor rink.

“I had never skated outside before,” she said.

Joy said everything from the weather to the accommodations to the free transportation that was provided was wonderful.

“The Games were very well run and the people there were friendly,” she said.

The family would like to return someday to have an opportunity to do a little more site-seeing.

Rosie said she is thankful for everyone who helped her get to the World Winter Games, in particular her coach Lorilee Nelson and trainer Cody Owens.