Jones' dream comes true

ALISON KORN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:07 AM ET

Anyone who frets about their kids watching too much TV -- and isn't that most of us? -- should look at Olympic cross-country skier Perianne Jones, who grew up without one.

As a kid, the only time her family watched TV was during the Olympics, when her dad would rent a set so they could tune in. For those two weeks, they were riveted. She's now grown up to become ... an Olympian.

Hmmm, twist of fate? She still doesn't have cable.

"I spent most of my time outside, skiing, riding my bike, playing in the street, playing soccer," said Jones. "I'm sure it made a difference. Just being outside all the time is a positive thing in a child's upbringing, rather than sitting inside playing video games or watching TV."

From Jones's active childhood in small-town Ontario to her current base at the national training centre in Canmore, the 24-year-old is pursuing a lifelong Olympic dream that's fast becoming a reality. Five years ago, right after high school, she left the picturesque Ottawa Valley town of Almonte, Ont. (population 4,000) to train in Canmore for Vancouver.

Yet the dedication of Jones's former high school coach is still going strong. Lynn Carss, who coached her in track, cross-country running and skiing at Almonte and District High School, has spearheaded a fundraising run for Jones this Sunday (www.runalmonte.ca).

"When she came in Grade 9 she was looking towards the Olympics, and here we are 10 years later," said Carss.

"That's where the dream was. She competed in nine OFSAA events, but what set her apart was how she supported others. After winning her races she would go back and run/ski with her teammates. She always encouraged others to set their own personal goals and strive to meet them."

What started as a modest event has grown to close to 40 sponsors, official timing and 5k, 10k and 1k distances. All proceeds from registration will go directly to Jones.

"A small town like Almonte is so supportive, it's amazing," said Jones, who will join in from Canmore via videoconference. "They've really come together for this weekend, it's pretty impressive."

The school has officially adopted Jones through the Canadian Olympic Association's Adopt-an-Athlete program, which means she visits the school and it fundraises for her.

Jones first stepped onto cross-country skis at just three years old when she joined a Jackrabbit ski group in Almonte. At 15, her family joined the Nakkertok Ski Club in Ottawa and her career took off. Jones competed at a high level throughout high school on both the Nakkertok and Ontario teams.

She's now one of the rising stars on the Canadian team. After successful stints on the world junior and U23 levels, Jones broke through on the senior circuit this past February with an impressive sixth-place in the 1.3 km team sprint with veteran Sara Renner at the 2009 world championships in Liberec, Czech Republic. The charming part is Jones didn't immediately realize their performance had earned them an Olympic berth.

"I'm not the kind of person who reads Olympic criteria and things like that because it just makes me really nervous," said Jones. "I was like, if it happens, it happens. If not I'll qualify next year."

Carss is now planning her trip to the Olympics to go watch -- thanks to Jones's parents, who had extra tickets. She gets misty imagining how it will feel to be there.

"I will be sitting with tears in my eyes, for sure," said Carss. "I'm the biggest mush going. I cry at Tim Hortons commercials."

ALISON_KORN@HOTMAIL.COM


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