Friday July 11, 2014





B.C. Winter Games back after 39 years

Expected to bring 1,600 athletes and more than 600 coaches and officials
Murray Mitchell

Young Kamloops curlers celebrate the announcement. From left are Corryn Brown, Erin Pincott, Samantha Fisher and Sydney Fraser.

The event that inspired Kamloops to aim for becoming a capital city for tournaments is coming back.

The B.C. Winter Games, which debuted in Kamloops in 1979, are returning to the city in 2018 and bringing with them about 1,600 athletes and more than 600 coaches and officials.

Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake announced the winter games coming to town and noted the summer and winter games are the province's premiere athletic events.

The city hosted the B.C. Summer Games in 2006.

Lake said it was after the 1979 B.C. Winter Games came to Kamloops that the city started to aspire to be B.C.'s Tournament Capital. After Kamloops hosted the 1993 Summer Canada Games the goal became bigger: to be Canada's Tournament Capital.

Senator Nancy Greene Raine pushed that goal further still, when she spoke Friday about the role her home community of Sun Peaks will play in the 2018 event.

"We know Sun Peaks will be very excited to show B.C. and all of Canada why we (Kamloops) are the Tournament Capital of the World."

Lake said the games will bring an estimated $2 million in economic spinoffs with it.

Mayor Peter Milobar urged the students of A.E. Perry elementary school who were brought in for the announcement to focus on any sports they love and work hard. They might end up competing at the B.C. Winter Games in their home town.

"It's another feather in our cap as a community," he said of hosting the games.

The group gathered at the McArthur Island xeriscape garden for Friday's announcement included community leaders, athletes, former athletes as well as the school children.

The 2018 games are slated to take place from Feb. 22 to 25 and involve 18 sports including archery, badminton, biathlon, boxing, curling, figure skating, gymnastics, judo, karate, netball, ringette, skiing and speed skating.

The school district is arranging its professional development day for February 2018 so that it falls within the games days, freeing up classroom space that will be used by athletes as dorms.

Kamloops wasn't the only community getting good games news Friday morning.

Simultaneous announcements were being made in Penticton for the 2016 B.C. Winter Games, and in Abbotsford and Cowichan Valley, which will host the 2016 and 2018 B.C. Summer Games, respectively.

Last year's B.C. Winter Games were held in Greater Vernon.

The first time Kamloops bid, for the 1979 B.C. Winter Games, snowmobiling and carpet bowling were among the featured events and the City's bid was pounded out on a typewriter and submitted in black and white.

This latest bid included a slick full-colour, coil-bound proposal and letters of support from the groups involved with winter sports.

Ejnar Laursen was at Friday's announcement wearing a green and white 1979 B.C. Winter Games tuque. He won bronze in boxing.

"It was like a miniature Olympics to me. I was a kid — 14, 15," he said.

A few years later, he won silver in boxing at the national level.

Now he has kids of his own, ages five and eight, who are still a little young to learn boxing.

But by the time 2018 rolls around, at least the eldest might be eligible to compete.

"This will be fun. If boxing's on the list, I'll be there," Laursen said.


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