Enthusiastic young curlers got a chance to try the sport with an event hosted by the curling club.  (Tom Best photo)

Enthusiastic young curlers got a chance to try the sport with an event hosted by the curling club. (Tom Best photo)

Top sports stories of July to December 2017

A look back at the second half of 2017 in sports as we slide into a new year.

The first half of the year had loads of sports action and some would say that there would be no way that the rest of the year could show the same amount.

Of course there would be those who would disagree. This small neck of the woods is very busy and July to December is no exception.

June finished up with the high school track provincials where the locals did their usual outstanding job before some of them ran into the gym at their various schools where they dutifully accepted their diplomas before running off to the next segments of their lives.

July is always a busy month. Perhaps the most momentous event locally is always the Tyhee Lake Triathlon which this year had a visit from the provincial authorities for the first time. Organizers were pleased with what they saw and the usual crowd of individuals and teams were out in force.

Perhaps one of the biggest stories of the summer was that the Steelheads hockey team would not be icing a team this season. Players and coaching staff made the decision after much deliberation and consideration.

Chandler Park soccer fields were also much in the public eye as they eventually became available for use after careful maintenance and cultivation.

As we headed into the late summer, soccer and other outdoor sports were underway in their usual big style by their unusual large numbers for what many would consider to be a small community. There was also a British Soccer Camp for youngsters to get a taste of the world’s most popular sport from some overseas instructors.

Golf was in the spotlight as the biannual Celebrity Golf Tournament attracted its usual big crowd while on its way to raising money for the local hospital.

Later in the month there was the Northern Hockey School to get things off on the right skate for the local enthusiasts.

As they headed off to university, local swimmers Tanner and Bailey Espersen were excited to get back into their regular training schedules, Tanner in his new school in South Dakota, and Bailey in Victoria. Currently Bailey is ranked top six in the nation for his best event, the 200-metre breaststroke.

Paralympic swimmer Jonathan Dieleman was away much of the summer with international commitments but has done much of his recent training at home. He was busy setting records in his best event, the breaststroke, and added a new discipline with the individual medley. He is currently ranked third in the world in the 50-metre breaststroke.

September brought us the start of hockey and also the beginning of a program to encourage trying the sport for young girls and women. The program was a big success and saw the development of a continuing program. During the month we also learned that runner Vicki Tolton, who had gone on to star with the University of Maine, was named to that school’s Hall of Fame.

Next we got into soccer for a wide range of participants and the start of cross-country running at various schools. Both men and women from Smithers Secondary had solid representation at the provincial level, finishing in the top 10.

Girls rugby was underway again and despite being underway only for a short time, the sport is alive and well locally.

As usual, there were also a number of charity runs in the fall such as the Kispiox Turkey Trot and the Terry Fox Run.

The local salmon fishery was in the news for a number of reasons. Certain regulations which were in place this season were questioned by a variety of sources. Their timing and specificity were not in the best long-term interests of the various fish stocks, according to some experts.

Volleyball got underway with Bulkley Valley Christian School qualifying and playing in the provincial A championships. Smithers Secondary played in the AA provincials.

November also saw the first triathlon coaching course offered in the area. The sport is popular locally but experienced, trained coaches have a difficult time accessing certification programs.

Smithers Minor Hockey continued its tradition of hosting top level tournaments with an Atom level event won by Hazelton. The team has had no practices without an arena until next season but managed to give their best by working extra hard at various tournaments.

Curling for kids was also in the spotlight as a clinic was held to give them a taste of what fun the sport can be. Local curler Rachel Brown got her start here and recently was with the Alberta team which attempted to gain a berth with the 2018 Olympic squad.

The figure skating club hosted an early season competition which showed off their talent.

As we head into the new year we can get excited about some of the tradition winter activities which are so popular in the area. Downhill and cross-country skiing got off to a good start this year with good winter weather conditions. The Nordic Club hosted a competition last weekend to select athletes for the provincial winter games. Results were not available at press time.

School winter sports are well underway including basketball in which the Smithers Secondary senior girls will be vying for a crack at a top 10 ranking.


Smithers Interior News