Several local athletes will get the chance to compete in the BC Winter Games being held February 20 to 23 in Mission.
The BC Games bring together British Columbia’s best emerging high performance athletes, trained coaches, and certified officials for four days of competition. Joining 2,220 participants from around the province are 15 young competitors from Nelson and the surrounding area.
This experience is an important development opportunity and stepping stone towards higher-level sport competitions. The purpose of the BC Games is “To provide an opportunity for the development of athletes, coaches, and officials in preparation for higher levels of competition in a multisport event which promotes interest and participation in sport and sporting activities, individual achievement and community development.”
Keiran Marchand is heading to Mission for the games and will compete in biathlon, something the 14-year-old started doing at age 9 to “bring a new challenge to cross country skiing.”
“I am excited to go to the games because it will be my first big race and I am representing the Kootenays,” he told the Star.
Nelson Jr. Ladies Curling Team consisting of skip Lauren Walgren, third Christina Cutler, and lead Noelle Wang are headed to the games along with second Robyn Flynn from Castlegar.
“All the girls are looking forward to the event,” said assistant coach Karen Walgren.
All under 16-years-old, this is Walgren and Wang’s second time competing at the Winter Games.
Glacier Gymnastics coach Sandra Long said the Nelson club is “very proud” of their athletes heading to the games. Kylee Dyck, Victoria Lawrence-Jeffery, and Ella Keelan of Crescent Valley are competing.
“They have worked very hard for the last few years to prepare for this opportunity,” said Long. “Based on past accomplishments at provincial level competitions, each girl has the possibility of coming home with a medal or two.”
Spencer Pearson-Atkins is competing at the Winter Games in speed skating. The Grade 9 student is just back from competing in Kamloops where he broke the 50 second mark in the 500 metre skate.
“That’s always a good milestone in any skater’s career,” said Daryl Rasmussen who will join Pearson-Atkins at the games as assistant coach.
Competing in the Winter Games does come with more pressure than the regular circuit as the spotlight shines brighter on such events, said Rasmussen.
“He’ll be there gathering experience at a multi-sport competition,” he explained. “We’ve been training hard all year and this is one of our key focuses. I am really happy that he qualified.”
Haley Elias, Reese McCrory and Emma Wheeldon are competing in female hockey.
“I’m definitely nervous but I think it will be an awesome experience, from the high level of hockey to making new friends from different places,” said Wheeldon who plays for the West Kootenay Wildcats. “I’m excited to go and play and see how things turn out.”
Members of the Whitewater Ski Team Liam Jones, Oso Punchard, Cheyenne Stevens and Kiley Waterfield are headed to the games.
Their Whitewater coach Dylan Henderson is also the head coach for the Kootenay Alpine Ski Team. He will be taking 20 athletes from as far away as Invermere to the games.
“Qualifying for the BC Winter Games in Mission is a huge achievement for these athletes,” he said. “Participating in the games is an incredible experience as the event has the feel of the Olympics with 18 sports and over 2000 athletes and coaches attending. For these athletes this will be a very memorable step on their athletic journey.”
This is the 27th BC Winter Games.