The BC Winter Games are a biennial celebration of sport and community that bring together BC’s best emerging high performance athletes. The 2020 BC Winter Games will be taking place in Fort St. John, and will once again include curling for athletes between the ages of 11 and 16.
This past February, the 2018 BC Winter Games took place in Kamloops. The Comox Valley team of Gracelyn Richards, Chanelle Meeres, Keelie Duncan and Bryn Woloshyn won the girls’ gold medal in a 9-5 win over Kamloops’ Team Hafeli. The girls’ bronze medal was won by Kamloops’ Team Calhoun.
For Richards, the BC Winter Games was a great learning experience.
“We got to meet a whole bunch of new teams, it was great competition,” said the skip. “We learned a lot and we met some [other] coaches. It was a good environment for us to be in.”
Richards also noted how the BC Winter Games introduced her team to a different format of competition that becomes more commonplace as athletes compete at higher levels. “We really learned how to play in games back-to-back and be in an environment with opening ceremonies and things.”
In the 2018 boys’ competition, the Kamloops team of Bryan Yamada, Daniel Griffiths, Nolan Bottineau and Zander Landygo won the gold medal in a 9-6 win over Richmond’s Team Tao. The boys’ bronze medal was won by Coquitlam’s Team Kent.
Team Yamada coach Raymond Olsen also saw the BC Winter Games as a great development opportunity for his young team.
“They all wanted to play competitively, to get their feet wet,” said Olsen. “It was a valuable experience because it taught them that number one, they could compete, and number two, what they had to do to compete.”
Now both Team Richards and Team Yamada are competing in the 2018-19 BC Junior Curling Tour and aiming for the 2019 BC U18 Championships. Team Richards also won the Canada Winter Games qualification event earlier this year and will be competing in the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer in February.
Who will top the podium in Fort St. John? The road to the 2020 BC Winter Games starts this season with the inaugural U15 Challenge Cup. This event provides a competition opportunity for athletes preparing to play in the BC Winter Games. The event will also feature a one day BC Winter Games Preparation Camp.
Registration is currently open for the 2019 U15 Challenge Cup, which is taking place January 11 to 13 at Kamloops Curling Club.