Biathlon Feb15 KBS11517

Emily Dickson

(ISN) – Prince George – Seven athletes from B.C.’s north combined for a total of 10 medals during week one of the 2015 Canada Winter Games, helping propel Team BC into third place in the medal standings, with a total of 41 at the mid-point of the Games.

Four of those athletes were hometown heroes from Prince George and included biathlon’s golden girl, Emily Dickson (two gold, one silver, one bronze), Archer Tony Procter (bronze), long track speed skater Carolina Hiller (three silver), and Claire LaPointe, who earned a gold in the biathlon relay.

Other podium finishes from the north came from Quesnel’s Emerie Watson, she was the partner of Procter who earned the bronze in compound archery, Jacob Graham of Dawson Creek (gold in long track speed skating), and Sterling Middleton from Fort St. John (bronze in curling.)

Despite having to travel to Fort St. John to compete in the long track speed skating events, Prince George’s Hiller felt the support of the north and is confident it gave her a hometown advantage.

“Everywhere I went everyone was cheering ‘go Team BC’,” she said. “I was so impressed with all of the volunteers – every aspect was amazing – from the food to the venues, it was awesome.”

Hiller and her teammates received a warm welcome when they returned to Prince George on Friday night.

“When we got off the bus there were tons of people there to greet us,” she said. “Our family and friends and even a whole bunch of the Prince George Blizzard skaters, it felt pretty cool. And even though they couldn’t be there with us in Fort St. John while we competed, we knew they were with us all the way.”

Hiller’s most magical moment of the Games came when she stood on the podium with her teammates after winning silver in the team pursuit. Though she also won two individual silver medals during the Games, they didn’t compare to her team win.

“That was the highlight for me and it was so good,” she said. “We executed our plan perfectly and it was so special to be able to celebrate with my team and share the experience – it’s way better than winning by yourself. I just love them so much.”

Another local athlete whose top moment of the Games was shared with an entire team is Sydney Irving. The Team BC ringette player said just the experience of being a part of these Games was better than any result they could have posted.

“Our team was very lucky because we had so much support,” she said. “Every single one of our players had their parents there, some had grandparents and everyone had supporters. I probably had three rows of family and friends who came to watch me play.”

The cheering and noise of the Coliseum was nerve-wracking at first for Irving but with some help from her mental performance coach and words of encouragement from her trainer, she learned to use the nerves to her advantage.

“I had to get used to the noise but I figured out that it’s what you do with all that energy that matters. I think we did a really good job of using the excitement of the atmosphere to our advantage.”

The Canada Winter Games is the highest level of competition for ringette players at this age. As Team BC parted ways on Saturday morning it was a bittersweet goodbye.

“We’ll see each other again at provincials,” said Irving. “But it will be different. Some of us will play together but not all of us. In some cases we’ll be playing against each other and that’s going to feel different. I’m very proud of what we’ve done here. Every time I came off the ice I knew I gave 100 per cent. I back-checked hard. I didn’t score but I set up some goals for my team and was proud to watch that unfold.

“I’m just very proud of everything about these Games, from the community to the volunteers to my team. It’s been great. They were there every step of the way, opening doors for us and greeting us at 6 a.m., serving us food and preparing the rink for us – it’s been outstanding and it really makes me proud to be able to say this is my community.”