3 provinces, 1 Canada Games – and planning to make it a ‘great time’ for everyone
While she was initially nervous about competing in New Brunswick instead of PEI, Ontario’s Aria Loewen says it was fun.
Some alpine events are held at Crabbe Mountain near Fredericton, and long-distance speed skating is held at Emera Oval in Halifax.
Loewen said it was great to be able to attend the opening ceremonies of the PEI and to be there in the athletes’ village.
Then all they had to do was get on a coach and drive for five hours.
The only downside is the lack of crowds, said Loewen.
“It’s a bit sad that we can’t see other people, they can’t see us. But luckily we have all the other skiers here to support us.”
Saskatchewan’s Talance Kalmakoff competed in the aerials at PEI and also competes at Crabbe Mountain.
When she heard she was going to be competing in two provinces, she thought it was cool that she was getting two for one.
She doesn’t feel lonely because she has her “freestyle family” around her.
Meanwhile, at the Emera Oval in Halifax, Carter Bruce competes for PEI in several long distance speed skating events.
On the weekends leading up to the games, he traveled to Halifax for training.
He and the other endurance racers were able to spend time at the Athletes’ Village in Charlottetown and attend the opening ceremonies.
There is also an athletes village where they live in Halifax.
“It’s a much smaller feeling, there’s only 80 of us here. But there’s two of us in a room … instead of 14, so it’s a lot more comfortable.”
Bruce said it was good to experience the oval before the competition.
“It’s a very windy oval compared to some other ovals… the ice is a bit softer so it’s good to know that.”
The 2023 Canada Winter Games chairman said hosting Canada Games in two provinces is not that unusual — but it is in three.
Wayne Carew said the biggest challenge is making sure athletes have a good experience no matter where they go and compete.
“We wanted to make sure that … the athletes didn’t leave before attending the opening ceremony and it will be the same for the closing ceremony. They will come here to attend the closing ceremony,” he said.
“We want to make sure they are well fed and have good housing, which they do in both Halifax and Fredericton.”
Carew said a lot depends on the volunteers at the different venues, who go out of their way to ensure athletes get the full Canada Games experience.
“They had the opportunity to experience the athletes’ village and they have a mini athletes’ village over there in both hotels [in Halifax and Fredericton],” he said.
“It is exciting. The athletes seem to be having a great time, the volunteers are having a great time and the moms and dads who came to watch their sons and daughters all seem to be having a great island experience.”
Carew said there was one day of challenging weather but they were able to compensate knowing temperatures would drop the next day.
In terms of contingencies, Carew said, it’s just a matter of planning ahead.
“You know, we’ve stressed from the start that we need to make sure we plan for the worst and hope for the best. And that really happened,” he said.
“I feel very confident listening to the Chef de Missions meetings every morning. Your comments are truly commendable and it is great for our staff to hear this feedback.”