Ridderrennet is a huge winter sports event for people with various disabilities that takes place at Beitostølen every year. A group of twelve RCN students went together with Hilde, a teacher from the College, and Guro, a physiotherapist from Red Cross Haugland Rehabilitation Centre from March 26th to April 2nd.
The participants come from many different countries, such as Canada, Denmark, Czech Republic, Norway and the U.K. Two RCN students from Cambodia, Mean and Sreythai, were participants in the competition, while the other RCN students worked as volunteers in the restaurant.
Mean participated at Ridderrennet last year. He said that the programme this year was more fun than last year, but the condition for skiing was worse. Yet he was glad to be able to compete with other disabled people, and explore his potential.
On Tuesday, Mean and Sreythai participated in the biathlon, a 5km cross-country skiing and shooting competition. Guro, the physiotherapist from Haugland, was Sreythai’s guide, and RCN student Steinar was Mean’s guide. In the Biathlon, both Mean and Sreythai won Gold Medals! On Thursday, Mean participated in an 8km cross-country skiing race and Sreythai did the 4 km race where she won a Silver Medal. On Saturday, it was the main ski competition, Ridderrennet. Normally, the participants can choose to do either 5, 10, or 20km cross-country skiing. However, due to the lack of the snow this year, everyone did only 4km.
After the competition, Sreythai said, “I really liked this programme because I have had the chance to try snowboarding, and to take part in ski competitions with other people. I come from Cambodia, a country without snow, so I didn’t expect to win any competition. When I got the Golden Medal in the Biathlon, it made me feel very confident. Because of this competition, I have become more willing to try new things. This programme has been important to me.”
At Ridderrennet, some of the participants lived in the same hotel and had meals in the restaurant where the volunteers worked. In the restaurant, the volunteers assisted the people who needed help to take food from the buffet or find a seat.
This was challenging for the volunteers. A student in RCN from Hong Kong, Vanessa, said, “We should respect their dignity when we try to serve them. For some people, it is very important that they are self-reliant, so sometimes they won’t appreciate too much help if they think they can manage on their own.”
When it comes to the feelings about Ridderrennet, Vanessa felt that Ridderrennet empowers people by showing that disabilities don’t limit people from doing what they love. RCN student Tonje, from Norway, who has been working with people with disabilities before said, “This time, at Ridderrennet, I have been so inspired by their motivation for life. I’m reminded that we should never give up on the ‘impossible’.”
Sarah, a student from Denmark, mentioned that some participants from Denmark told her that they enjoy coming here and doing all these things that might seem to be too difficult for them. Pushing their limits. In addition to the lessons learned and inspiration gained, she said, “I felt that in this EAC group, Ridderne – The Knights, we bonded more closely to each other because of this week and the experience we have had together.”
Ridderrennet not only encourages people with disabilities, but also inspires people who work as guides and volunteers. It reminds us of the main idea of this event, “Make the impossible possible.”
Written by Peiyu Shih (RCN ’16-’18)
For some more photos from the event click here.