How the 2010 Olympics changed the playing field for young B.C. athletes

Midori Holland was only six when she first tried shooting down a frozen ice chute.

Her grandfather, who was a luge official during the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, wanted one of his grandchildren to give the sport a shot.

"None of my other cousins wanted to try and I was the only one with guts," said Holland, in an interview on The Early Edition Friday.

Flash forward a decade later and Holland is a member of the Canadian national luge team and is planning on gunning for a gold in Italy in 2026. 

Holland credits the 2010 Games with introducing her to the excitement of international sporting events and fuelling her desire to be a part of that world herself one day.

To commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the event, and to hear more about the lasting impact the Games had on young people like Holland, The Early Edition broadcast from Whistler, B.C., on Feb. 14 where the legacy of Vancouver 2010 carries on.

From spectator to contender

Yuki Tsubota was 16 years old in 2010 and had not yet competed at an Olympic Games.

She said having the chance to see ski events at Whistler a decade ago showed her new possibilities.

"It gave me a goal and I could see it. It just made me want it so much more," she said.

And she got it.

Tsubota is now a member of the Canadian National Slopestyle Ski Team and  the freestyle skier competed in the last two Olympic Winter Games. 

But it's not just Olympic-level athletes that benefited from welcoming the world in 2010.

Eric Pankratz

Impact on Indigenous youth 

Court  'Blackbird' Larabee, has seen firsthand the positive impact the Games had on local Indigenous youth.

Larabee, executive director of the First Nations Snowboard Team, saw the need for Indigenous kids to have something to do to blow off steam in the winter.

The team started five years before the 2010 Games with 10 youth members. It received funding from the Aboriginal Youth Sport Legacy Fund, administered by 2010 Legacies Now, also a non-profit organization, which leveraged the Games to create funding for community initiatives.

Now, the team has 350 members from eight nations who get to ride the slopes on Whistler free of charge and according to Larabee, the impact "really stretches beyond the hill."

"We literally see the youth become healthier, happier and we are creating social change by creating role models," said Larabee on The Early Edition Friday.

Team members are not riding for Olympic medals, but Larabee says the sport has helped improve members' mental health and boosted many participants' self-confidence.

It also gives local members the opportunity to honour the legacies of their own people.

"This actually ties into what our ancestors used to do. We used to go out to the mountains for strength," he said.

Eric Pankratz

Tap here to listen to the complete broadcast of The Early Edition live in Whistler on Feb. 14.