Dara Howell did more than win a gold medal in slopestyle at the inaugural event at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, earlier this year.
The 19-year-old Huntsville freestyle skier, dominated her Sochi competition. In the final, her first run earned 94.20 points, giving her the victory by almost nine points.
Howell kept her Olympic gold medal under her pillow the first night and soon after returning home said she did not have any definite plans on where to store it.
"My dad will come up with something for me," said Howell at Toronto's Pearson airport.
"I've been gone for a month so it's amazing to be on home soil and hangout with my family – it is very emotional to see them after a nine-hour flight."
Her parents, who had returned earlier from the Olympics, met her beaming from ear to ear.
"It was an incredible moment to see her coming down the hill," Doug Howell said.
"We were both there watching her and just wanted to see her come down no matter what the score. It's her medal. This is what you want for your child, but she refers to all of us as 'look what we have done,' but it is her medal," he said.
Dee Howell said she was looking forward to a big hometown party for her daughter in Huntsville.
"This has been one incredible ride and I'm still trying to figure it out. This is what I have always hoped for her," she said.
Since Sochi, Dara's settled into her offseason, and stays busy visiting schools and community organizations. Just last week she was signing autographs at an Audi dealership in Barrie.
"You work hard and you get to come back and share it with everyone. I'm stoked to go out there and sign some autographs," she said. "I'm riding this wave for a while."
On Tuesday, May 27, Bossy Nagy Group, Chartered Professional Accountants, is pleased to be bringing Howell to Tillsonburg to visit four local schools. Sponsored by BNG, Howell will be speaking at Glendale High School and Annandale School in the morning, and Monsignor JH O'Neil School and South Ridge Public School in the afternoon.
The students will get to watch a short video, learn how she got into freestyle skiing, how hard she had to work, and what's in her future.
"The kids can relate to what goal-setting is all about," said BNG president Mike Bossy, who knew the Howell family long before Dara won Olympic gold. "The hard work, commitment... you can do a lot when you put your mind to it. You can set goals and achieve those goals."
A frequent summer visitor to the Howell family's Pow Wow Lodge in Huntsville for nearly 15 years, Bossy's daughter Gabrielle and a slightly younger Dara were a similar age.
"We got to know them real well. And Gabrielle worked up there two summers for the Howells. We stay in contact and still see each other."
Bossy remembers Dara being a fearless, gifted athlete.
"At two years old they had her skiing. She used to go up on some of those water toys when she was 5 and 6 years old and do backflips off them – she no fear of heights. Everything she did involved jumping... she just jumped everywhere. You just knew she was going to be athletic."
-- with files from QMI Agency