Every two years regions from across B.C. come together to battle it out in the B.C. Winter Games. The Games only last four days, Feb. 23-26, but it’s a massive undertaking with almost 2,000 volunteers supporting more than 2,000 athletes and hundreds of chaperones, coaches, officials and other personnel in 20 different sports.
Whistler’s sending a large contingent this year with 12 athletes and four coaches.
Nadine Crowe and Garrett Milan qualified for the Zone 5 hockey team back in December, and our ski team includes locals Lauren Cameron, Kailee Darlington, Max Horner, Mackenzie Patterson, and Joshua Patterson, as well as disabled skier Shona Burton.
Ski coaches en route are Alex Fell, Julie Prud’Homme, Phil Chew and Jason Fink.
We are also sending another street sprint team. The street sprint is a test event to identify young candidates for the Olympic sliding sports, bobsleigh, luge and skeleton. The street sprints team includes Conor Halliwell, Chris Laird, Lauren Mooney and Jenna Romanin, which chaperone Tami Ross from PacificSport Sea to Sky Centre.
For many athletes the B.C. Winter and Summer Games are a gateway to reach the next level of competition, attracting the attention of top coaches and programs in the province. For 15-year-old Nadine Crowe, who has attended the Games before in cross-country skiing, the B.C. Winter Games represent an opportunity to take the next step in hockey.
She plays centre for the Whistler Midget Girls team, but tried out as a defenceman for the Zone 5 team. Since she was selected she has been to four practices with her team – all that any of the zone teams were allowed to keep the competition as fair as possible. That meant trips to Vancouver every weekend, and some late nights at different arenas.
"I’m pretty overwhelmed," she said of the team. "I was amazed at how good the girls are. I feel a little out of place, having never played such good hockey. They’re also in great shape because they get to practice four or five times a week, and I only get one practice a week."
Crowe has been doing dryland training to keep her fitness at a provincial level. Although she plays almost every team sport available at Whistler Secondary, and has made a name for herself as a solid mountain biker and cross country skier, she recently decided to focus her talents on hockey. Last year she was part of a Whistler boys Bantam hockey team that went undefeated in 30 games, but made the move the girls hockey team.
The B.C. Winter Games could be a stepping stone for her hockey career. If she plays well enough in the tournament she can be selected for an Under 18 training camp along with 60 other girls, which will be whittled down to an official Under 18 provincial team.
"I’m taking it quite seriously, I’m definitely going to give it my all. I’m pretty nervous," said Crowe.
Her team will play three pool games, which will decide whether the team plays for gold, bronze, fifth place or seventh place out of eight zone teams. All of the teams will be playing the same system to keep the competition as fair as possible, with three lines of forwards and three lines of defence, and all of the girls will get the same ice time.
Crowe says she’s the outsider on the team, as most of the girls already know each other. Still, she says they’re a fun group, and she’s looking forward to playing with them this weekend.
Results from the B.C. Winter Games will be posted online at www.bcgames.org.