Today Banff and Canmore got the news: the two communities will serve as the hosts for the Alberta Winter Games in 2014. Athletes ranging in age from 11 to 17 will compete in winter sports, as well as some indoor sports, including volleyball, rhythmic gymnastics and wrestling. The Alberta Winter Games are held every two years and serve as a launching ground for many national – and international – level athletes from Alberta.
The announcement was made at Lawrence Grassi Middle School. In attendance were many of the people who had some hand in convincing the selection committee to award the event to the Bow Valley. Foremost amongst those are the members of the Bid Committee, led by John MacIsaac and Hans Holthuis, a teacher at Canmore Collegiate High School. Kudos to the Mayor of Banff, Karen Sorensen, and Ron Casey, Mayor of Canmore, for endorsing the bid committee’s proposal. Canadian Rockies Public Schools formed an important part also: the School Board’s support for the Games’ use of the facilities and other resources was key to a successful proposal.
The 400 or so LGMS students were there too. They had only been told the Selection Committee was coming back for a second look. So when MLA Janis Tarchuk relayed the happy news of the final decision, there was a millisecond of stunned silence, followed by raucous and joyful applause, whistles, hooting, and hollering. Chandra Crawford, Olympic Gold medalist in 2006 (skate sprint, Olympic Winter Games Torino, Italy) and local hero, then spoke to the kids. She told how her participation in the Winter Games was a stepping stone to her current career as an elite athlete. Chandra said, “I was just like you.” She told them to always challenge themselves and to always do their best. Their attention was riveted on her as she recounted that race. It is a wonderful thing to have a role model who exerts such positive energy and influence. And I got a hug from her that made my day!
Everyone shone today. Visionaries were persuasive enough to unite parties (who are not always cooperative!) to support their cause. Perhaps it will lead to further cooperation between municipalities and schools to accomplish other worthy joint projects. The 2014 Alberta Winter Games will pay off for those communities, but most importantly for the 2,000+ young athletes who will come to compete and to young spectators and volunteers who will be inspired by their performance.
Okay – the easy part is over. Now we need 3,000 volunteers….