1Eclipse Automation is proud to sponsor local snowboarders Emma and Abby Van Groningen, two Cambridge sisters with the shared goal of competing in the 2018 Olympic Games. Through financial and motivational support, Eclipse is assisting the sisters along their journey, in hopes of making this goal a reality for them.

The two sisters learned to snowboard out of the Alpine Ski Club in Collingwood, where they still dedicate most of their time and energy to continually improving their abilities. Through years of riding together and pushing each other, both have become high performance athletes, representing Canada in various competitions around the world.

Emma is 20 years old and recently completed her first year at the University of Guelph studying Bio-Medical Sciences. She began her snowboarding career at age 8 and has been offered 2 World Cup starts. In January, she attended the World Cup in Bad Gastein, Austria, where she had the opportunity to race against Olympic athletes. Emma has recently filled out her application to become a Nationally Sponsored Athlete, and is awaiting results in the fall.

Emma attributes her accomplishments to setting small aspirations for herself in order to make her way up to her ultimate dream of competing in the Olympics. “I make a goal for myself every time before I go out snowboarding for the weekend, majority of time the goal is simple: carve down the pitches, drive my hands forward, close off my chest for example. All of these simple, easy to maintain goals are a little steps into achieving my larger dreams.”

Abby, 18 years old, is currently completing her Grade 12 at St. Benedicts Catholic School. She began snowboarding at age 6 and has also been offered 2 World Cup starts, but unfortunately turned both down in order to focus on her education.

Abby believes that “staying motivated and continuously strengthening my mental game just as much as my physical game has helped me become the athlete that I am today. Both of these qualities constantly help me to achieve my goals as an athlete and as a person.”

Starting Interclub racing in Collingwood, the girls graduated to Ontario Snowboard (across Ontario racing), moving on to the International Ski Federation, and then NorAm (across North America racing). In the past two years, they have participated in the Europa Series, competing across Europe against some of the best riders on the continent. Additionally, both sisters have attended multiple National Championships, along with two Junior World Championships and an Europa Cup in Italy.

Emma and Abby compete in parallel slalom and parallel giant slalom racing, both extremely difficult downhill races consisting of multiple staggered gates along the course. Each rider’s agility is put to the test as they veer through the gates placed across the hill to reach the bottom as quickly as possible. For this event riders compete head-to-head down an identical course alongside one another, with only the winner of the pair advancing to the next round. Though a rider’s overall time is still important to them, their ultimate goal is to be faster than the person next to them.

One of the largest challenges each girl faces is trying to balance education with snowboarding, to ensure they keep grades up as they constantly train to improve their snowboarding skills. Because the girls spend as much time as possible training, it can become difficult to balance other activities and responsibilities at the same time. These difficulties also include balancing competition while trying to stay focused on the snowboarding. In order to make their way to the top, Emma and Abby must attend as many competitions as possible, which increases travel costs over time.

This is where Eclipse’s sponsorship support is able to help. Eclipse provides financial and practical support to the next generation of Canadian sporting talent to assist them along their journey. Eclipse’s sponsorship funds future competitions, including helping to pay for flights, accommodations, doctors, and coaches, so they can focus on their training instead of their finances. The funding also eases pressure on the parents and guardians, enabling them to support their children in developing their careers to the fullest potential.

Emma and Abby have recently joined the Canadian Alpine National Team’s Development Group, where they will represent Canada alongside the best boarders in the country in various events around the world. The National Team will give the sisters the chance to display their immense skills in front of some of the most significant people in snowboarding, helping them along their path to the Olympics.

As part of Eclipse Automation’s Corporate Social Responsibility, our goal is to create and maintain community-focused relationships that thrive on positive support and active social interactions. We feel that by creating a culture of community cooperation, Eclipse Automation hopes to empower its employees and members in our surrounding communities.