From the slopes to the Hall of Fame, the local ski manager is forging her own path

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Collingwood People: Patty Federer, 2020 Collingwood Sports Hall of Fame Inductee

With the easing of pandemic restrictions, 2020 Collingwood Sports Hall of Fame inductees will finally be able to accept their honors in person on May 14.

For this week’s edition of People of Collingwood, we spoke with one of the individual inductees, Patty Federer, 70, who will be honored for her contribution to Special Olympic and Paralympic golf and skiing.

Q: How long have you lived in Collingwood?

A: I’m originally from Clarksburg. I went to high school in Thornbury. I did grade 12 and 13 at Meaford.

I left after high school, like most kids. I was part of the first class of commerce graduates from Humber College in Toronto.

I returned to Collingwood in 1978.

My ancestors settled here in 1845.

Q: Have you pursued a career in business?

A: You don’t have enough time to hear about all my careers. (Laughs)

When I started, I was a market analyst in a brokerage firm. I married a rock and roll musician and started a family in the 70s. When my son was two my marriage broke up and that’s when I came back.

I thought it was a good place to raise a family, and I had siblings who lived in the area as a support system.

I worked for an insurance company for a while in their office.

After that, I ended up working for Simcoe County Social Services for 31 years.

Q: Part of the reason you were inducted into the Collingwood Hall of Fame is due to your work with skiing and the Special Olympics/Paralympics. How did you get involved in this?

A: Sport has always been an important part of my life.

When I came back to town in 1978 to ski for me and my son for free, I worked as a race crew at Osler (Bluff Ski Club). A lot of local kids do that.

I ended up becoming a level 3 FIS official. I worked a lot of races at Osler.

Q: Why was volunteering in ski sports important to you?

A: I like winter.

As high school students, many of us volunteered at Georgian Peaks. It has been part of my life for a long time and my childhood.

It’s fun to be on the ropes. Skiing competitions are very exciting to watch and participate in. I love to organize.

Collingwood hosted the world championship in 1997. I raced alpine skiing for that. It was my first participation in the Special Olympics.

Q: You have been the only official female alpine skier at the World Winter Games for 23 years. Can you talk about your experiences as the only woman in this role?

A: All ski is a boys club. It always has been. Skiing usually involves people who have money because it is an expensive sport. I grew up with three brothers.

I’m used to being competitive with men.

When I got to skiing, it never occurred to me that I couldn’t do all they could because, why not?

I showed up, worked hard, and I guess I did a good job.

Q: Do you still participate in skiing and Paralympic activities?

A: I haven’t done Paralympic stuff in a while.

Together with Breaking Down Barriers and a few others, we have developed a local sledge hockey team. They trained at Stayner because we couldn’t get ice time in Collingwood.

This team was integrated with another in Elmvale. That was about eight years ago, and I haven’t been this active since.

I’m an honorary life member of Special Olympics, and I’m usually the downhill ski official who directs the races for them. Did this for the last races we ran with them in 2019 at Blue Mountain.

Then COVID-19 hit.

I’m part of a team that Special Olympics Ontario asked to create workout videos to put online, which I’m also currently working on as a director and writer. We use athletes to demonstrate.

One thing I love about Special Olympics is that there’s a place for everyone. No matter your ability level. Some of the training videos explain what the different levels of skiing are. Hopefully they will come out this winter. They will go all over Ontario, maybe across Canada and around the world.

I also did a Zoom presentation in March on officiating for Special Olympics.

Q: What do you like to do besides skiing as a hobby?

A: I am a golfer. I have been a volunteer at the Canadian Open Golf Tournament for 25 years. I started painting during COVID. I just finished a painting for one of my granddaughters. I read a lot. I currently have three books in progress.

Q: Is there anything else you would like the people of Collingwood to know about you?

A: I’m passionate that everyone should have the opportunity to be the best they can be. It’s one of the reasons I’m passionate about Special Olympics. This includes everyone and gender does not matter.

As a Canadian, I’m very proud of the fact that we have to do a lot of firsts.

I have to break down the barriers. It’s one of the things I’m most proud of.

For our People of Collingwood feature, we’ll speak with interesting people who are part of, or contribute to, the Collingwood community in some way, letting them tell their own stories in their own words. This feature will work on CollingwoodToday every weekend. If you would like to nominate or suggest someone to be featured in People of Collingwood, email jessica@villagemedia.ca.

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