Steve’s snow sport adventure with Invictus Australia
Invictus Australia in partnership with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) sent a team of six former and current serving veterans to Whistler as part of the Allied Winter Sports Camp, hosted by Soldier On Canada.
For these six Australian veterans, the morning of February 21st was met with an abundance of excitement as they set off on the experience of a lifetime.
The Australian team consisted of Corporal Jason Moore, Laura Reynell, Karen Thomas, Kate Rose, Able Seaman Heidi Giudice and Soldier On Australia’s Steve Richards.
The team were selected from the ADF Adaptive Sports Program, which is open to former and current service personnel from all branches of the regular or reserve ADF who have become wounded, injured or ill during their service.
The Allied Winter Sports Camp is one of a number of international programs that Invictus Australia are involved in, alongside their community activities, which aims to strengthen veteran wellbeing through recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration, following discharge.
For adrenaline seeker Steve, this trip was a dream come true. Embarking across the globe to experience some of the most exciting winter sports Canada has to offer that will feature at the 2025 Invictus Games in Vancouver and Whistler was an incredible experience.
Steve joined the Army back in 2005 as a Fitter Armament. Originally posted to 2nd/14th Lighthorse in 2008, he transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as a Ground Mechanical Engineer Fitter (GMEFITT) in 2010 and deployed on Operation Slipper in 2013. He was a driver for Air Commander Australia (ACAUST) in 2014 and was medically Discharged in October 2022.
Steve, who is undergoing surgery at the end of this month due to back injuries acquired throughout his service expresses his gratitude in saying, “The opportunity to participate right before my back surgery makes me all the more grateful that I was chosen to go to the camp. It was an absolute ball!”
The team set off from Sydney, flying into Vancouver eager to explore the sights of the city. The next day saw them off to Whistler’s Olympic Athletes’ Village where the team would be staying alongside fellow participants from the United Kingdom, United States and Canada.
The 10-day camp allowed the teams to try out sports such as Sledge Hockey, Bobsleigh, Biathlon, Skiing, Snowboarding and more, with the chance to learn how to do these new activities in an adaptive environment.
Steve says, “Picking a highlight from the trip is a tough call. As far as things I’ll never get the chance to do again, bobsledding allowed me to experience my ‘Cool Runnings’ dream.”
“There’s not much that can get me too emotion-charged, but going 130km/h, pulling 4G’s, and getting the fastest time on the track for the day was a pretty awesome experience.”
The trip overall can be described as nothing less than exceptional, with the team also getting to experience making Native Canadian hand drums at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, learning about the history and culture of the area.
“We had a great team dynamic”, says Steve, “the adaptive learning environment made us all step out of our comfort zones and united us as both teammates and veterans.”
Invictus Australia Teams and Events Coordinator, Anne Rutlidge, said the camp was a great experience for all involved.
“The camp wasn’t about winning; it was all about recovery and using sport as part of your healing journey. The longer the camp went on, the positive impact it was having was evident.”
“To meet so many new people, with a shared background, and all come together and participate in new activities and thrive was the most pleasing part. It really provided everyone with an opportunity to get out and try some new sports in a safe and supportive environment, while challenging themselves over multiple days to build their skills.”
“The location was the perfect backdrop for the whole experience, it was such a beautiful landscape and the facilities allowed our participants to really involve themselves. We can’t thank Soldier On Canada enough for hosting us.”
Check out the full gallery of photos: 2023 AWSC WHISTLER | Flickr
If you’d like to get involved in future opportunities, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on social media to keep up to date with all activities.
Want to learn more about our team, check out their Bio’s: