Shawn Sinclair, Technical Delegate
Shawn Sinclair Southern Ontario District (SOD)

l never planned to be an official.

l grew up in a skiing family and always had a passion for the sport. My personal journey began as a competitor, then as coach, instructor and now an official.

Like many who find themselves volunteering as an official, I had great deal of encouragement. Builders such as Alan White, Richard Lemoine, Jim McCarthy and Al Maddox were instrumental in developing my officiating career and the careers of countless others.

In Ontario changes have been made over the years to make it easier for officials to become certified including moving the· Level 1 course online. The new Mentorship Program which gives officials the opportunity to shadow a TD or a major official at a Tier 1 or Tier 2 event, can be instrumental to gaining experience and making those connections to support our developing officials. But perhaps the most important aspect of volunteering to becoming an official is to answer the question, why? Let me share a few of my personal answers to this question and maybe those answers may resonate with you.

I do love to ski, the freedom, the speed, the technical nuances of our sport. Ours is a complex sport and we host complicated events. Our races operate on a very large field of play. We have several different techniques to propel us around a course. Our courses are different lengths on different terrain in different weather conditions. We have different equipment for different races and sometimes we ask the athletes to change that equipment in the middle of a race. On any given race day, you can have 8-year-olds and 60-year-olds, para and able-bodied athletes using the same stadium, the same tracks and crossing the same finish line. It is both exciting and challenging. As an official, it can be immensely rewarding, like finishing that 1000-piece puzzle! The best part, we share that experience with a team of volunteers who all have the same goal. I have always found the community of volunteers and officials to be supportive, passionate, and dedicated. The enthusiasm is infectious.

In February of 2023, the Ontario Winter Games was held in Renfrew County. The venue for Cross Country Skiing was held on the sports field in the town of Renfrew. There was no stadium, no facilities, no course, and no grooming. At these games, volunteers and officials came together from all four of the districts in Ontario to design and build a stadium, design, and build a race course and run an extremely successful event. The event was a tribute to the dedication of our officials, and it was a thrill to be apart of that community. Experiencing the challenge, the excitement and the positive spirit and devotion of the volunteers to create this event will always be a highlight of my career. I hope that you will have same opportunity to take part in something so rewarding on your ski journey.