Lilla Roy always knew where to find good snow.
As a child growing up in Fort Ellis, she would often drive up to Ski Wentworth with her parents, where skiing became as natural as walking.
Today, she is in Alberta as an assistant coach for Team Nova Scotia’s cross-country skiers at this month’s Canada Winter Games.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Roy. “There’s a lot of provincial pride at this event and pride in what they’re taking on and the challenges they face as a small province without consistent snow.”
Roy is working with head coach Daniel Murray to guide the seven athletes – five females and two males – through the Canada Winter Games.
This means the usual ski drills and practice sessions on trails through the woods, as well as emotional support as they face top-class athletes from provinces that receive much more snow than Nova Scotia.
But Roy is already preparing, having arrived in Alberta ahead of her team. She spent the weekend in Canmore practicing her own skiing, before going to Edmonton and then Red Deer, where she will meet her athletes in the coming days.
Both Roy and her skiers are practicing on deer trails before the games begin. To make up for the lack of snow in Nova Scotia, the athletes sometimes ‘roller-ski’ using skis on wheels to practice their techniques.
It is a far cry from her childhood in Fort Ellis, where soccer and baseball were favourite sports and neighbours looked out for each other.
“I’ve seen the full spectrum, growing up in a small town as a developing athlete, having the chance to compete and live away and then return home,” said Roy.
Indeed, Roy’s family has long-standing ties to the Canada Winter and Summer Games stretching back decades.
Roy’s mother Marjorie Cogswell was manager of the Canada Winter Games in 1983. Her father was an athlete in the games in 1979 and returned as a coach in 1987 and 1991.
Her brother Ben raced in 2007 together with sister Jennie Mae Roy, who also competed in the 2011 Winter Games.
Roy herself competed in skiing at the 1999, 2003, 2007. She also served as a wax technician at the 2015 Winter Games and was on the cycling team at the Summer Games in 2005.
When not on the trails, Roy makes her permanent home in Sydney, where she works at the university.
“I miss the East,” said Roy. “We had family all over the province [and] there’s all kinds of places in Nova Scotia I’d like to visit sometime.”
For more information on this year’s Canada Winter Games, please visit https://www.canadagames.ca/2019/.