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Paralympic skier benefiting from coaching talents of Sudbury's Patti Kitlar

By: Randy Pascal – Playback

 | Mar 03, 2014 - 4:18 PM |
Before every big competition, Canadian Paralympian Margarita Gorbounova (left)turns to Sudbury paranordic ski coach Patti Kitlar to fine-tune her technique. Photo by Randy Pascal.

Before every big competition, Canadian Paralympian Margarita Gorbounova (left)turns to Sudbury paranordic ski coach Patti Kitlar to fine-tune her technique. Photo by Randy Pascal.

The Sudbury connection at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi was unmistakable. With the likes of Rebecca Johnston, Devon Kershaw and Meagan Duhamel competing, the community was clearly on the media radar.

Come the start of the 2014 Paralympics on March 7, the connection to Northern Ontario will be much more subtle — which is not to say that one will not exist. Certainly, not in the eyes of nordic ski enthusiast and coach Patti Kitlar.

The Sudbury woman, who led the charge in developing a Para Nordic ski program in Ontario back in 2007, was called upon for her invaluable knowledge yet again.

In early February, Kitlar drew a visit from 29 year-old Margarita Gorbounova of Ottawa, as she prepares for her second appearance in the Paralympics, this time in her native homeland.

Involved in Gorbounova's coaching since 2005, Kitlar welcomes the visually impaired athlete to Walden prior to some of her biggest competitions.

"Before each big event, she comes to visit me for a week or so and we fine-tune her technique," explained Kitlar.

It's an assessment that is shared by both teacher and student alike.

"I obviously already have technique, but she (Patti) has got a really good eye for seeing exactly what you're doing and exactly what you're not doing," said Gorbounova.

For the Russian-born athlete, the Paralympic movement has hit close to home. Her mother and father are also both visually impaired, with dad and daughter suffering from aphakia.

"We were both born with cataracts," explains Gorbounova. "The cataracts were removed, so now we don't have lenses in our eyes."

Her mother, Olga Nazarenko, captured gold in the 1992 Paralympics in Albertville. France, representing Russia.

The family moved to Canada in 1999, settling in the Ottawa area in 2005. To Kitlar, Gorbounova provides another challenge.

"Body movement is body movement," said Kitlar. "You have to watch them (the athletes), look at how they're getting the force at the right moment so that they accelerate forward. It's still physics... and that's the fun part."

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