Sun Peaks teens work for athletic funding: Meet Sun Peaks’ newest role models

Three Sun Peaks ski racers have applied for funding from the Champions Fund, a program that supports the advancement of women in sport.

Emily Whitecross, Erin Cope and Abbey Bachand have each submitted applications in a bid to receive one of 20 $5,000 grants available.

Montana Molyneux, head coach of the Sun Peaks Alpine Club (SPAC), sees the fund as a great way for the trio to gain funding and grow into their
athletic careers.

“It’s cool for them to realize that there are people that support them and it’s good for them to be proactive for their racing career,” Molyneux said.

She added in many sports, including racing, as athletes grow older and reach higher levels of competition, there are fewer females competing so applying for the grants has taught them to promote themselves and see themselves as athletes.

“We don’t have a lot of female skiers in B.C. moving through to high levels so there aren’t many role models,” said Molyneux. “But these girls are becoming role models and realizing that they can be that presence for younger athletes.”

The fund was created by Canadian Dairy Farmers in the spring of 2016 to empower female Canadian athletes and has received more than 2,400 applications from girls older than 13 on behalf of themselves or a team or program. Applications will be reviewed by a committee with winners announced in November.

4. Erin Cope

Cope is 15 years old and has been a ski racer since the age of six. She currently competes in the U16 category for SPAC. For her the best part of the sport is the people she has been able to meet and opportunities she has earned.

While she hasn’t faced additional challenges in her sport because of her gender, she does think that it’s necessary for female athletes to be seen as equal to their male

“I think the program is important because I think that it’s important that females in sports should be represented just as much as men,” said Cope.

Cope would use her grant to cover her racing fees as well as necessary equipment.

3. Emily Whitecross

Fifteen-year-old Whitecross has been racing since she was five years old and now competes in the U16 category for SPAC. She appreciates the relationships she has formed through racing as well as getting to be in the mountains.

For Whitecross, the grant is important not just for the funding, but also because it starts a conversation about women in sport.

“The Women’s Champion Fund program is important because it encourages people to think about women in sport and the different challenges they may face,” said Whitecross.

She has experienced more male competitors dominating alpine ski racing and said they are often taken more seriously and receive more credit and recognition, but she has been well supported in Sun Peaks.

“I am very thankful to have lots of wonderful people surrounding me that recognize and celebrate my accomplishments just as much as my male teammates
and competitors.”

If awarded a grant, Whitecross plans to use the funds to pay for equipment as well as travel and racing costs.

“I would be very thankful if I was awarded the grant as it would allow me to keep going in my sport and hopefully be a role model for other young girls.”

2. Abbey Bachand

Bachand is 16 years old and works with the SPAC as a coach for the U8 and U12 sections.

Outside of ski racing she has competed in rodeo sports with her quarter horse Fly for the past four years and has grown to love the community that exists outside of the arena.

For her the program was important because it allows girls who are competing the chance to secure
additional funding.

“When you are competing in a high level sport, it’s very difficult to secure year-round, regular employment so this program can assist girls who struggle with those opportunities,” Bachand said. “It allows girls to have access to the tools to reach levels in their sports that they may not be able to due to a
financial need.”

If Bachand receives a grant she plans to use some of the funds for costs associated with horse ownership, as well as travel costs and fees involved with rodeo competition. There are two large events she would like to train for which require a coach. She would also like to use part of it to give back to the rodeo community by sponsoring a prize for a female barrel racing or pole
bending event.