Proud parents cheer on Island-raised athletes at Winter Olympics

Parents remember their kids as young athletes before the Olympics

A young Teal Harle and his Dad Shane hit the slopes in 2009. FACEBOOK PHOTO

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Those are the words of proud parents who flew to South Korea to watch their kids compete in the Winter Olympics.

Lori Brenneman, mother to Comox-raised snowboarder Carle Brenneman, said she’s looking forward to cheering on her daughter in Pyeongchang and helping her celebrate achievements as an Olympic athlete.

The Olympics, Lori said, have been on Carle’s mind since she was a young gymnast.

“She was around eight years old and I remember sitting around the dinner table and she announced that she was going to the Olympics. At that point she was going as a gymnast and she was pretty determined,” Lori said.

Now 28, Carle began skiing at age three on Mount Washington and eventually evolved to snowboarding at approximately age 11.

For four years, the Brennemans would spend winters on the mountain in a rented condo with two other families so Carle could focus on snowboarding.

“That was a good opportunity for her to spend lots of time on the snow,” Lori said. “She never belonged to a ski club or a race club so she got exposed to [racing] in middle school and once she started racing she pretty well started winning stuff right away.”

Racing became Carle’s passion, so much so that in high school she convinced her mom to home school her for six months out of the year so she could spend more time on the mountain.

Lori said Carle’s self-determination and confidence are traits that have gotten her to where she is today.

“She’s never taken her eye off her journey no matter what detour she’s had to take. Even when she was little she liked to win,” Lori said.

RELATED: Five Islanders carrying Canadian colours in the Winter Olympics

After graduating high school, Carle got a letter from BC Snowboard asking her to try out for their team.

“She almost didn’t do it. I kind of said this is an opportunity I think you’ll regret if you don’t go ahead with it,” Lori said. “She was hooked after that and she just progressed from there being on the B.C. team and on to the national team.”

Carle has been a member of the national snowboard cross team since 2011 and was an alternate for the team at Sochi 2014. She achieved a career highlight in 2014 when she finished fifth at the Winter X Games in Aspen.

During the 2016-17 season, she had seven top-10 results on the World Cup. She was the top Canadian at the 2017 world championships with her eighth place finish.

Lori and her husband travelled from B.C. to South Korea last week to watch their daughter compete in the Olympics.

Another proud parent of a Vancouver Island raised Olympic athlete celebrating in South Korea is Shane Harle, father to skiier Teal Harle.

Teal, 21, who was born and raised in Campbell River, is part of Canada’s freestyle skiing team.

Teal began skiing at six years old and learned about freestyle skiing when he was nine. He had a lot of exposure to the mountain lifestyle, which helped him progress into an Olympic-level athlete.

“When [Teal] was in Grade 8 I went to Mount Washington and opened a (ski) school up there and the kids went and we did academics in the morning and then in the afternoon we skied, so at that time when he was younger I was coaching him,” Shane said. “We developed our lives around the lifestyle of skiing for the kids.”

Eventually Teal began coaching at his dad’s ski school (Podium of Life Snow Sports Academy).

“As [Teal] progressed we put him in ski racing and him and his brother were similar levels but he was a little older so we gave him the option to try freestyle,” Shane said. “He went to a competition and got a couple medals and that just took him off.”

Shane said Teal and his brother and friends would spend hours building jumps and rails, which has helped him develop his own style of skiing.

Growing up on Mount Washington, Teal honed many of his skills through the mountain’s racing and freestyle skiing programs. But being from Vancouver Island, Shane said Teal sometimes flew under the radar.

“Because we were on the Island, he was never really given a huge look by the organizations that pull kids up and get them to the Canadian level,” Shane said.

After winning gold in moguls and slopestyle competitions at the provincial level, Teal was invited to the B.C. team and eventually to the Canadian team.

Shane said Teal has had the Olympics as a goal since he was young.

“In Grade 8 he said ‘I want to be the best skier in the world,’ and then last year he won a world cup,” Shane said.

Shane said he’s most proud of his son’s humbleness and his unwavering focus on what he sets out to do. He’s in South Korea cheering him on.

“I’m just so honoured that he’s done this and it’s such a big thing. The world cup wins are huge but then for him to be going to the Olympics, I’m going to be crying the whole time I hope they don’t show me on film,” Shane said with a laugh.


INSTAGRAM PHOTO @carleb Olympic snowboarder Carle Brenneman and her mom, Lori.

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