Tofino’s Pete Devries celebrates his Cold Water Classic win in his hometown on the weekend. He is the first Canadian to win a major professional surfing event. O’NEILL
Pete Devries grew up on a beach near Tofino where he learned to surf in snow storms, often in wet suits so cheap he had to wear two to stay warm.
Twenty years of braving British Columbia's icy waves paid off on the weekend when Mr. Devries, who rarely enters competitions, astonished a field of top international competitors to become the first Canadian to win a major professional surfing event.
That a relative unknown did it at home, on a beach where his dad taught him to ride a board when he was 7, left Mr. Devries and others stunned.
“I guess I'm elated. I'm still kind of in shock,” Mr. Devries said Sunday, after celebrating his unexpected win of the $20,000 first prize at the O'Neill Cold Water Classic Canada by taking a walk on the beach with his girlfriend, Lisa Hasse, and his dog, Nai'a.
Held for the first time in Canada, the event is one of five cold-water tournaments hosted annually by the Association of Surfing Professionals, one of the world's leading surf organizations. The others are in Tasmania, Scotland, South Africa and California.
The competition drew more than 120 top surfers to Tofino, and few expected a local boy to storm to victory on the big Pacific breakers that pound ashore there.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Keven Drews
Pete Devries kicks up an arc of spray during quarter-finals action at the O'Neill Cold Water Classic in Tofino, B.C.
“To be honest, I didn't even know who Pete was,” the great Australian surfer, Jay Thompson, said after he lost to Mr. Devries in the final heat.
The field that Mr. Devries, 26, bested during the week-long competition included professional surfers with big reputations: Dusty Payne of Hawaii, Damien Fahrenfort of South Africa and Adam Melling of Australia.
Mr. Devries used to participate in international competitions in the U.S., but gave it up several years ago to concentrate on refining his technique and building a career as a “free rider,” a surfer who makes a living endorsing brand names. He is featured in magazine photo shoots and videos, and is known as one of Canada's best technical surfers.
But he is not known on the world surfing circuit.
Mr. Devries said his lack of competitive experience may have worked for him, as so little was expected of him that he felt no pressure.
“I just tried to have fun,” he said.
The tension was there for his fans, however, who crowded the beach to watch Mr. Devries, aware that he is a talented surfer who can pull off stunning moves.
One of his signature turns is called a layback snap, in which he rockets up the wave face, then reverses suddenly by sticking his trailing arm in the water and using it as a pivot point.
“Don't give up at this point because sometimes miracles can happen,” he says in tips he posts online to help other surfers.
He may have been following his own advice during the contest, knocking off one imposing challenger after another.
Tension built as Mr. Devries, who as a boy washed dishes in the local bakery and sold boards in the local surf shop, rose through the rankings all week.
“I'll be honest. I was so nervous I could barely watch,” said Noah Cohen, a long-time friend of Mr. Devries and a leading Tofino surfer, who was eliminated in the quarter finals.
“A lot of us pretty much were in tears,” he said of those who cheered Mr. Devries through the week.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Keven Drews
Pete Devries, of Tofino, B.C., smashes the lip of a wave during the second round of competition at the O'Neill Cold Water Classic.
Allister Fernie, who owns the Storm Surf shop in Tofino, credits Mr. Devries success to talent and hard work.
Mr. Fernie recalled watching as a 13-year-old Mr. Devries tried to stay warm in the winter surf by wearing two thin wet suits. The water off Tofino is about 6 C year-round.
“I said, ‘Dude, we've got to get you some better gear,'” said Mr. Fernie, who later became one of his sponsors.
Surfers are judged on their two best waves during a 30-minute session, with scores ranging from 0 to a perfect 10. When his final turn came Mr. Devries nailed it, earning scores of seven and nine.
As Mr. Devries came in, two fists raised over his head, Mr. Cohen and others ran into the cold surf to wrap him in a Canadian flag.
“It's something I'll never forget,” Mr. Devries said.
Despite the big win he has no plans to rush off and join the world circuit. He and Ms. Hasse have a baby on the way and he wants to stay close to home.
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Dying 6-year-old girl leaves love notes behind
November 05, 2009
Six-year-old Elena Desserich is shown in February 2007 in an unfinished playhouse built by her father, Keith. Elena died of brain cancer later that year but left notes and pictures for her family all over their Cincinnati home, hiding them in bookshelves and drawers. “That’s my favourite picture of her,” her father told the Star.
PHOTO COURTESY OF DESSERICH FAMILY
From the moment she first picked up a crayon, Elena Desserich loved to draw. Even as a preschooler, her favourite gifts were pastels, markers and blank notebooks.
So it wasn't unusual for Keith and Brooke Desserich to find their little girl's trademark purple hearts and "I love you" notes on scraps of paper and stray envelopes all over their suburban Cincinnati home.
But it wasn't until weeks after their 6-year-old died of cancer that they realized she had left hundreds of messages planted in nooks and crannies for her parents and little sister, Grace, to stumble upon after she was gone.
Each one they find – tucked into bookshelves, dishes in the china cabinet, corners of dresser drawers, bags of stored clothing – is like she's sending "a little hug," say her mom and dad.
"She's giving us a little message saying that everything's going to be all right," Keith said in a phone interview Wednesday.
Elena was only 5 years old when doctors diagnosed pediatric brain cancer. They said she had 4 1/2 months to live. But she made it to almost nine months.
Her parents didn't tell her the prognosis; in retrospect they say she must have somehow known as her small body started to fail her.
Since her death more than two years ago, the discoveries of what she left behind have grown fewer and further between. There was nothing for six months. And then last week, there she was again, inside a Strawberry Shortcake notebook in the back of the cupboard tucked behind the game of Candyland.
"I love you Mom, Dad and Grace," she had written inside a heart with arrows.
Keith doesn't remember the first one she left because for awhile, he and Brooke thought her notes were part of the daily household clutter that had accumulated over the years.
"But after you get to 20 or 30 you realize this isn't just scraps," he says. "We don't even know when her notes started. We have three Rubbermaid boxes full." There could be 300, they haven't counted.
Elena left them for her grandmother too, and even a great-aunt's Chihuahua she adored, who stood guard at her bedside until the end.
While they offer a powerful source of comfort to those who adored her, Elena's family believes they contain a universal message too: cherish the small moments in life; be present for those you love.
The girl with a ladylike fondness for headbands, tights with polka dots and anything lacy or pink was also "a wise soul," says her dad.
"She found grace even in the smallest details."
Her parents hope to carry her message and her example in their newly-published book Notes Left Behind, a series of their journal entries during Elena's last months, written for her sister, along with samples of her messages and artwork.
Baloo the bear, Leo the Lion and Shere Khan the tiger have the most unusual and unlikely friendship between them.
Published: 9:41AM GMT 07 Dec 2009
Living with the zoo's founders for the past eight years, Shere Khan, Baloo and Leo have now moved to a purpose built habitat Photo: BARCROFT
Rescued eight years ago during a police drugs raid in Atlanta, Georgia, the three friends were only cubs at the time and barely two months old.
They had been kept as status symbol pets by the drug barons.
Delivered to the Noah's Ark animal rescue centre in Locust Grove, Georgia, the decision was made to keep the youngsters together.
"We could have separated them, but since they came as a kind of family, the zoo decided to keep them together," said Diane Smith, assistant director of the Noah's Ark zoo.
"To our knowledge, this is the only place where you'll find this combination of animals together, they are our BLT, (bear, lion and tiger).
Living with the zoo's founders for the past eight years, Shere Khan, Baloo and Leo have now moved to a purpose built habitat were the US public can now witness first hand their touching relationship.
"We didn't have the money to move them at first," said DIane.
"Now their habitat is sorted and they have been moved away from the children's zoo areas where the public couldn't really get a good look.
"Now, though, it is possible to see Baloo, who is a 1,000 pound bear, Shere Khan, a 350 pound tiger and Leo, who is also 350 pounds messing around like brothers.
"They are totally oblivious to the fact that in any other circumstance they would not be friends."
Handled by Charles and Jama Hedgecoth, the zoo's owners and founders, the three friendly giants appear to have have no comprehension of their animal differences.
"Baloo and Shere Khan are very close," says DIane.
"That is because they rise early, as Leo being a lion likes to spend most the day sleeping.
"It is wonderful and magical to see a giant American Black Bear put his arm around a Bengal tiger and then to see the tiger nuzzle up to the bear like a domestic cat.
"When Leo wakes up the three of them mess around for most of the day before they settle down to some food."
Surprisingly for three apex predators with the power to kill with a single bite or swipe of their paw, they are very relaxed around each other.
'"They eat, sleep and play together," said Jama Hedgecoth, founder of Noah's Ark zoo.
"As they treat each other as siblings they will lie on top of each other for heat and simply for affection.
"At the moment they are getting used to their new habitat.
"Shere Khan is being quite reticent about the move, but Baloo, the bear is very good at leading him on and making him feel comfortable and safe."
Explaining that the three 'brothers' have always seemed to share a unique bond, Charles Hedgecoth, Jama's husband and fellow founder talks about his role in their upbringing.
"They are obviously not wild animals any more," said Charles.
"Noah's Ark is their home and they could not possibly be separated from each other.
"You just have to remember who you're dealing with when you are with them though.
"It's when you forget that these fellows are wild animals that you get yourself in trouble."
According to DIane Smith, the trio's new habitat cost an estimated £15,000 and had to be constructed carefully, in order to accommodate its occupants.
"The clubhouse had to be very sturdy for the guys, because they all sleep in it together,"
We had to include a creek, because the tiger and the bear both like to be in water."
Quite amazing for a junior hockey club. From todays Calgary Sun
Feel-good goal bearly in
Schultz marker gets things going in teddy toss victory at Dome
By SCOTT FISHER
Good thing there were 16,751 goal judges in attendance at last night's Teddy Bear Toss.
Calgary Hitmen winger Ian Schultz thought he had scored the big goal midway through the second period. The ref waved it off but after Schultz raised his arms, there was no stopping the avalanche of bears.
And long before the 16,755 stuffed animals were removed from the Saddledome ice, video review confirmed what Schultz and the fans believed: It was in.
"I saw some white ice (between the puck and the line)," said Schultz, who scored the first goal in last night's 3-2 shootout victory over the Kootenay Ice. "I just threw my hands up. Either it was me or all the fans that convinced the ref."
A good number of fans held onto their bears until the goal was made official, meaning Schultz's celebration could have been disasterous if he'd been wrong. "It sure could have been," Schultz said. "Maybe we got the benefit of the doubt because the linesmen didn't want to have to clean up all the teddies on their own.