Canada winter


(ISN) – Northern B.C. had its first athlete take the podium on Sunday when Emily Dickson earned a bronze in 12.5 km biathlon event.

Dickson wasn’t the only Team BC athlete to win a medal on day two of the competition.

Sara Spence took silver in the women’s 1500m long track speed skating event and B.C.’s freestyle skiers had the best kind of deja vu possible at the Canada Winter Games. Elena Gaskell of Vernon and Sofiane Gagnon and Teal Harle, both from Whistler, racked up more hardware. They repeated their wins from Saturday’s slopestyle competition but in the big air event. Gaskell and Harle earned their second gold medals and Gagnon got her second bronze.

The freestyle skiers alone have now won seven medals for Team BC and there are still more freestyle events to come next week.

For Dickson, today’s biathlon win felt like a hometown victory. The 17-year-old is originally from Burns Lake but attends the Canadian Sport School in Prince George, where she has lived for the past three years.

“Today was a whirlwind of emotions for sure,” said Dickson. “I skied well and shot well for the first two rounds but then had a few misses in my shooting so had to ski fast to make up the time. I guess I did that well and pulled off the bronze.”

After completing her race Dickson had more than an hour to wait for the final skiers to finish and the results to be posted.

“I knew I was close but there was quite a bit of suspense waiting so when I heard the news I certainly felt relieved but also so excited.”

The hometown advantage helped calm Dickson’s nerves and made for a memorable Canada Winter Games experience. “It was a very cool atmosphere here today with family and friends and teammates cheering me on.”

The atmosphere at the outdoor speed skating oval was also exciting, and much colder, with the events kicking off early in the morning to preserve the integrity of the ice. In the days leading up to the competition there were questions about whether or not the ice would be in racing condition for Sunday but freezing temperatures overnight made for a great competition venue.

Spence skated through her warm up at 6 a.m. and then took to the long track for the 1500m event.

“I was really happy we got to skate here today as part of the Games,” said Spence. “By the time my race got going it was pretty sunny and the ice was melting a bit but it was still good.”

The 19-year-old Kamloops skater was encouraged by the large number of spectators who turned out to cheer on the athletes, especially considering it was cold and early in the morning. Among those fans were her mom and brother, both of whom are accomplished speed skaters.

“My mom was there to watch today and my brother was there cheering me on so that was really cool.”

Spence found the race challenging; she prefers to race shorter distances but got a good start in the 1500m and settled into second place early in the contest.

“I felt really fast off the start and kept it going through the race,” she said. “I prefer to sprint so it can be hard to keep up the pace over that distance. I started to die a little at the end but held onto it.”

Spence will be back on the track on Monday for the 500m event and team pursuit.