Competition begins for Team BC at the 2019 Canada Winter Games

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Team BC began the first day of competition at the 2019 Canada Winter Games on Saturday with table tennis, men’s hockey, and long track speed skating on the schedule

In table tennis, Competition got underway at Westerner Park with both the male and female team events starting play. Team BC got off to a great start in the female team event, making quick work of Quebec. Fiona Nie (Surrey), Benita Zhou (Vancouver) and Patrina Hui (Burnaby) cruised to a 3–0 victory and followed that up later in the day with a 3–1 defeat of Ontario. The female team finished first in their pool which gives them a bye to the semi-finals.

In the men’s team event, Steve Wang (North Vancouver), Kenny Jiang (Burnaby) and David Lin (Richmond), defeated Ontario 3–2 in a marathon three-hour match, but immediately had to turn around and face a talented Quebec team where the exhausted team lost 0–3. Despite the loss, Team BC finished second in their pool and received a bye to the semi-finals.

The team is back is action on Sunday morning, starting the male, female, and mixed doubles competitions, while the team event semi-finals take place Sunday night.

Hui (Burnaby) will play with Lin (Richmond) for the first time in mixed doubles.

“It’s fun to work with someone you haven’t worked with before,” said Hui. “But I’m also kind of nervous because it’s the first time we’ve ever been to a competition together so we’re just going to try and do our best.”

In men’s hockey, Team BC came out firing in their first game of the Canada Winter Games, but lost their momentum in the middle frame and eventually the game to Manitoba 4-2.

Outshooting their opponent 16-8 in the first period, Team BC defenceman Graham Sward (Fraser Valley Thunderbirds/Abbotsford) got on the board first to give them a 1-0 lead heading into the middle frame.

The teams traded goals in the second period with Manitoba tying it up then Caedan Bankier (Burnaby Winter Club Academy/Surrey) tipped a shot past the Manitoba net minder off a point shot. With less than a minute to play in the period Manitoba fired back as the teams skated to a 2-2 draw.

“After the first period shifts got shorter and you could see the emotion playing out on the guys. In sports your nervousness usually ends up in your legs and you stand up a little straighter, your shifts aren’t as sharp and they are battling fatigue and emotion,” said Team BC head coach Steve O’Rourke. “Playing on TSN and in front of all their parents all played a part in those nerves. The way we came out was to our advantage, we outshot Manitoba but then that emotion kicked back on us and that is when Manitoba really started coming on.”

Manitoba took control of the game adding a goal early in the third period and an empty-net marker late in the game with Team BC going for the tying goal with the extra attacker.

The 1500m men and women’s events were held on the first day of competition for long track speed skating. The accumulation of snow and severely low temperatures were a challenge for the athletes but they all remained in good spirits.

Top result for the men was Kieran Hanson (Prince George) in 11th place and for the women it was Amanda Mitchell (Fort St. John) in 7th.

“It was a very cold day, with lots of wind as well, so we had some additional challenges on the backstretch with some extra wind in the face, but overall I thought our kids did really well,” said head coach Adam Ingle (Surrey).  “They met or exceeded expectations, so I am really pleased and really proud of them today.”

Sunday’s events include the 500m and team pursuit finals.

Short track had their final training day before qualification rounds for the 1500m and 500m take place on Sunday. Athletes used the day to relax, recharge, explore the village and take in other sports.

“Today’s training was pretty good. We did some relays and progressive laps,” said Sherliyn Chung (Coquitlam). “The ice got choppy after a while so it was a bit sketchy, but it is good because we have to learn how to deal with it in case of it happening in competition.”

Wheelchair basketball had their first training session at the competition gym at the new Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. The team looks forward to play the home team, Alberta, Sunday evening in what should be a well contested match up.

“Alberta is the defending national champion and medal favourite going into these games,” said Head Coach Simon Cass (Victoria). “As they are our neighbour in the west, we have played them three times in the last couple of months losing all three but getting more competitive at this point in the quadrennial. It’s going to be a great crowd cheering game tomorrow and we’re excited to bring our best performance against the home team.”

Team BC boxers had a second training day ahead of the start of competition Sunday night. The team had their first visit to their venue and were impressed with what they saw which sets the stage for boxing’s first appearance at the Games since 2011.

“I have to say I’ve had quite a few fights and this is the nicest venue I’ve ever been to,” said Parsa Bisheh (North Vancouver). “It actually looks like a pro fight setting; I’m so excited to get in the ring here. The volunteers have been so nice, it’s been just a terrific experience just from the get go of walking in here.”

It’s been two and a half days of training for the athletes who are concentrating on staying focussed for their bouts.

“For a lot of fighters, you don’t want to over think the fight,” continued Bisheh. “For other guys, you need to stay on it constantly. It’s going to be a different answer for everybody, but for myself I have been talking to my coach, I’ve been talking to my other teammates, to try to get me as mentally prepared as possible going into this thing and training sessions have helped tremendously.”

Ringette had their first ice time since arriving at the Games and have a two game day Sunday at Collicutt Arena.

“I feel that my team is fully prepared and is ready to compete,” said Hailey Sutherland-Takasaki (Richmond). “I couldn’t be happier with the group of girls on this team and I am so ready to accomplish great things with them.”

Both the women’s and men’s artistic gymnastics team had a full practice day Saturday. Competition begins for the women’s team tomorrow at 1:00 pm where the women’s team final not only determines the medal placement for the team event, but also who qualifies for the individual finals.

In freestyle skiing, the moguls team hit up Canyon Ski Lodge for another day of training moguls and aerials. The aerials competition begins Sunday for both males and females, then there will be more moguls training.

“Training today was super productive,” said head coach Josh Kober. “The organizers and Canyon (Ski Resort) have provided us with quality competition venues that the athletes and coaches are quite enjoying. Our squad feels prepared going into tomorrow’s (Sunday’s) competition and are poised for great performances!”

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