Athletes eager to begin B.C. Winter Games

By Chad Klassen
February 22, 2018 - 4:27pm Updated: February 22, 2018 - 6:00pm

KAMLOOPS — McArthur Island was a bustle of activity on Thursday, as bus load after bus load dropped off Winter Games athletes to register before they compete for real on Friday. Many of the competitors at these Games for the first time. 

"I just want to get on the ice and play," said ringette player Hanna Cockle from Houston, B.C. "I'm excited because we haven't played a game together yet, so I think we'll do good and I'm excited."

Karate is not a traditional winter sport but included in the B.C. Winter Games nonetheless. For the competitors, the Games are potentially one step closer to the Olympics with karate now included starting in 2020 at the Tokyo Summer Games.  

"I want to make the Olympics," said Kaiya Lee from West Kelowna. "I just got added and I want to be one of the first competitors to win gold."

There are 19 sports in total, a mix of traditional winter sports with a few summer sports in there as well. Athletes are coming from every corner of the province. 

There is a curling team from Kitimat is made up mainly of 12 year olds, who will be competing against the older kids. But they know full well they're in tough.

"Oh it's super exciting. We're not exactly here to win or anything, but we're here for the experience and for the fun of it," said curler Ally Feduniak from Kitimat, B.C. "Everyone wants to win, but we're here for the experience more than winning."

There are also more inclusive sports like wheelchair basketball. Joel Ewert from Prince George is taking part is his third B.C. Winter Games. 

"Every time you come to the B.C. Winter Games, it's a great experience," he noted. "You get to represent your zone and your city, so it's just a great experience."

Ewert is a veteran at these Kamloops Games and has some advice for those nervous first-time athletes. 

"Don't be nervous. Just try to soak it all in," said Ewert. "Not everyone gets a chance to come to the B.C. Games, so just meet new people, don't get so focused on your sport that you miss out on everything around you."

Some of the sports, such as ringette, aren't currently in the Olympics. The athletes want to give more exposure to their sports. 

"I know for us, ringette in Houston and Terrace is not very big," said Cockle. "I'd like ringette to be bigger, like a bigger sport."

Many of the athletes whose sports are in the Olympics have been watching their favourite athletes close in Pyeongchang. For these curlers from Kitimat, Rachel Homan's disappointment in missing out on a medal isn't detering their love of the sport. 

"They're not exactly doing well, but I guess that means it's our time to shine," said Feduniak. 

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