Fair Haven’s Becca Hass Qualifies for Youth Olympic Games in Norway

    By on December 23, 2015
    • Becca Hass gets ready to take off during her first race day in Norway. Behind to cheer her on is her coach and father, Donald Hass Jr.

    • Becca Hass heads downhill at the start of a race in Igls. She had just landed on the sled.

    • While in Fair Haven briefly this weekend, Youth Olympic Games qualifier Becca Hass stopped in to Hardware Café to get her photo taken with Santa. Having just returned from the final qualifying event in Norway, she says she appreciated being back where she could see familiar faces again … and feel her toes. Photo by Kyle D. Meddaugh

    Christmas came early for Fair Haven’s Rebecca Hass.

    Her present? Qualifying for the Youth Olympic Games while competing in the Youth World Cup Tour in Lillehammer, Norway.

    Fresh from her success in Europe, Becca, as she likes to be called, and her dad and coach, Donald Hass Jr., were at Fair Haven’s Hardware Café Dec. 19, to talk about their adventures and catch up with locals who had gathered for Breakfast with Santa.

    While talking of her time in Europe, her name was called over a public address system in the cafe. She walked forward to the front area near Santa and gave a wave to the crowd.

    It was the first time home for Becca and her father in about a month. It’s been a long but exciting odyssey.

    Becca had competed in Lake Placid for two weeks in October, where she placed third in two skeleton races during Youth Olympic Games qualifiers.

    Next was Calgary, where she finished in 4th place in bobsled competition.

    “Then we had to make a decision,” Don said. “The international body would not allow an athlete to compete in both bobsled and skeleton, so in the end she chose to continue with skeleton.”

    The next stop was Igls, Austria, for skeleton competition, where she placed 11th and 13th in two races.

    “We left from there to go to Lillehammer, Norway, where she trained for eight days and raced for two days,” Don said.

    “I got 10th place and 13th in the two races there,” Becca said.

    It was a finish to be proud of.

    “The thing about Americans in Europe, to land in the top 10 is a good performance,” Don said.

    “Everyone who beat me had been there earlier to train, and had known the track well,” Becca said. “I hand’t been there in a year.”

    “But in the end, she squeezed to 4th place overall in the World Cub,” Don said. “Plus getting the qualifying position for Youth World Olympics.”

    Not Just About Sports

    While in Norway, they took the time to learn about and appreciate their surroundings.

    “I like Norway,” Becca said. “I like how they all speak English, it’s their second language there. Everybody there just seems to be really welcoming.”

    They enjoyed the Christmas-like looks, and streets set aside just for pedestrians.

    “The actual bobsled track is my second favorite, behind Lake Placid,” Becca said.

    Expenses

    It was an exciting time, but an expensive one. Don figures it cost about $12,000.

    He and Becca are grateful to the sponsors who helped make the training, traveling, and competing possible.

    “Without the sponsors this wouldn’t be happening,” Don said.

    They thanked all who contributed to Becca’s “GoFundMe” account, and thanked the following sponsors: Superior Plus Energy Services, Red Creek; Fair Haven Chamber of Commerce; Port City Chiropractic, Oswego; Cottage Inn, Red Creek; Mill Pond Nursery; and Fair Haven Motel.

    Youth Olympic Games

    They have a lot of miles behind them, but a lot of travel coming up in the future as well.

    “So I guess our next stop would be the Youth Olympic Games, which kick off February 12 in Lillehammer,” Don said.

    To get ready, there will be more training.

    “She’ll be working out at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid,” Don said. “In mid-January, she’ll start sliding in Lake Placid, and then off to Norway.”

    The Norway training will start Feb. 1, leading up to the Youth Olympic Games.

    “We’re hoping to close the gap on the Germans and Austrians,” Don said.

    With an extra week for training, Don and Becca hope to see her move into the top five on the Norway track, where she is currently 10th.

    “Just qualifying for this thing is huge,” Don said of the Youth Olympics. “They only take one or two from each nation.”

    The two were planning to head to Lake Placid soon to allow Becca to train at the Olympic Training Center. Don will direct adult World Cup Skeleton and Bobsled competition.

    That doesn’t leave much time at home.

    “We got the laundry caught up,” Don said.

    He said Becca needs some rest and recuperation after all the training and competition in Europe. “European tracks can be physical,” Don said.

    She will be outfitted for Olympic attire in mid-January. “The Olympic Committee takes care of that, then they start flying people over the first of February,” he said.

    The Youth Olympics are a major international event. Don and Becca said there are 70 medal events over 10 days involving 1,098 athletes from around the world. (Check “USA Youth Bobsled and Skeleton Federation” on the web to learn more.)

    But before all that, there’s Christmas.

    Christmas Day, they said, will be a day to recuperate with family and friends.

    Becca and Don were getting in the Christmas spirit Dec. 19, relaxing and visiting with friends and neighbors at Hardware Cafe. Becca posed for pictures with Santa, including one with her skeleton sled that most likely is speedier than Santa’s.

    “It’s really nice to not have to translate everything to English,” Becca said. Plus, she can return to the familiar miles per hour, vs. kilometers per hour, something she likes, now that she is 16 and has her driver’s license.

    “It’s nice to recognize people, and it’s nice to be where I can feel my toes again,” she said. Don noted Norway’s minus 15 degree temperatures, and few daylight hours.

    “By 4, it was pitch black, you would think it’s midnight,” Don said.

    Bonding Experience

    “It’s been a long fall season of travel. I think it has been a rewarding season. She’s met friends she’ll have forever,” Don said.

    They recalled the custom of Krampus, in which people dress up as the mythical beast who during Christmas season punishes children who have been naughty.

    “So we went out and got chased and were taunting them,” Becca recalls, laughing. “We all got hit. That was one of the bonding activities.“

    “Whenever I tried to get pictures they would turn around,” she said.

    Don and Becca talked of the benefits of having so many teens from all over the world get to know each other.

    There are times set aside for learning about different cultures and for traveling with partners from other countries.

    High School Diploma

    When she’s not making new friends from other countries and setting records sliding down hills, Becca is busy earning her high school diploma through Keystone National High School, a correspondence and online school based in Pennsylvania.

    “That’s actually been working out very well,” Becca said.

    She is looking to the future, not only in sports. She is considering going to school at Clinton Community College or North Country Community College for nursing.

    But in the meantime, there’s Christmas. And more travel and training as Becca continues to chase her Olympic dreams.

    Join in on the conversation.

    comments