It was an exciting trip to the BC Games for a group of Smithers athletes, and they showed they were not mere participants as they performed well and came home with excellent results.
The top result from the locals was a bronze medal in the snowboard cross event from Kaitlyn Peterson.
Snowboard was one of the group’s top disciplines as they also had a fifth from Brianna Belisle and a sixth from another Northwest region girl. The lone Northwest region boy finished in fourth.
Snowboard coach Warren Pali said there were three days on the hill, which included one day of training time and two days of competing.
“It shows we’re doing something right,” he said. “We are right at the top of the pack.”
Pali was pleased with the results, especially since they had not been to the Sun Peaks track before so the new venue was “a lot a of fun.”
There were around 1,200 athletes in the Games supported by 1,800 volunteers.
“It’s very important for the kids. It’s their Olympics. Its definitely a good experience for them as it’s the next step for them,” said Pali.
While there was no competition on the final day, there was a “podium search” in which various measurements and abilities that might indicate potential were conducted to see where sport-specific athletes might fit into the larger group of athletes in B.C.
“Their physical testing and results were unbelievable,” he said in reference to the snowboard athletes.
The next club event will be in mid-March and will be the last one of the season for them.
Pali felt that this year started with great snow but, “through the Christmas holidays, which is the time we spend building track on our mountain, we did not have much snow so we were at a disadvantage not having new snow to build the track but we still had great results. We try to make up that environment in different ways.”
“We have great support from our club and we have great coaches. Our parents are dedicated. It’s not easy to send your kids all over the province but they make the sacrifices and it is nice to see,” he said. “We were one of only two regions that had to fly into the Games. It was a nice switch from the long drives we usually have,” he said.
On another side of the slope, the downhill skiers may not have had as high finishes but their coach was more than satisfied with the way they competed. Dick Eastmure said they were placing around the middle of the pack and he was pleased with the way they finished. He said the girls were young and in some cases were giving up a lot on the difference in size that normal growth could bring.
“Every race we’ve gone to this year they just keep getting better. I see the improvement bigtime.
“The Games is a place where they meet kids from a lot of other teams. They made a lot of friends and the whole experience was a lot of fun for them,” he said.
“Probably our top skier was Bridie (Hikisch). She was just outside the top 30 in the downhill and also in the GS (grand slalom). They’re all improving, all the kids seem to do that every time,” he said.
He was in agreement with Pali as to the value of the experience of the BC Games.
“They make a lot of friends and it’s a chance to see other sports. The whole three-day experience is quite a bit different than just going to a standard race. It’s a whole lot more,” he said.
Other local athletes had similar good results. Cross-country skiers Gregory Baxter and Connor Murphy were sixth and seventh in the 500-metre sprint and fifth and seventh in the 5 km race.
In gymnastics, Ava Morrison had the highest placing in an individual event for the Northwest squad with a ninth in the vault.
In curling results posted by the rink of Oliver Kildaw, Duncan Kildaw, Brett Pierce and Kris McLean were unavailable at press time.