By Tim Kalinowski
With the Alberta Winter Games a little over a month away, Medicine Hat and District Games organizing committee chair Ron Webb says preparations, thus far, are right on track. According to Webb the only thing really needed now is more snow.
“We are exactly where we would expect and want to be at this point,” says Webb. “The next month allows us to finalize everything. With the events outside of Elkwater snow isn’t a critical component. However the Elkwater events include five on the ski hill itself. We also have two other sports out there that also require some snow: Out at the golf course area, we have cross country skiing and we have at the rodeo grounds, biathlon.”
About 2,200 athletes between the ages of 11-17 are expected to be in Medicine Hat and area for the four days of the Games as well as about 600 coaches and officials. This number doesn’t take into account the family members who will likely be coming down to support the athletes. Webb says organizers are starting to get excited after years of hard work to bring the Games to this point.
“We are getting excited as organizers, and I can tell you from a public stand-point that is also true and the same with our sponsors and volunteers. The Games are not only important in terms of the opportunity to highlight the athletes and help them achieve their potential in the sport, but we also see it as an opportunity to develop champions and leaders in the community.”
According to Webb organizers still need the public’s help in two areas. They are still looking for about 500 more volunteers to help with the event and they need people from the community to buy tickets to the events and venues and come out to show the athletes what southeast Alberta hospitality means.
“We have just about 1,500 volunteers at this point, and we require about 2,000 or so,” confirms Webb. “So we are still inviting volunteers to register in the month of January. The most important component of being awarded the Games is to be able to host them and show off our community. We have had tremendous local sponsor support through our businesses and community organizations. The tickets to attend our venues are not expensive, and we hope as many of the local area residents can attend and participate in the Games.”
The opening ceremonies for the Winter Games will be held at the Canalta Centre on Feb. 13. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster for those wanting to attend. Webb says it will be an extravaganza showing off southeast Alberta culture, and a great way to get the athletes stoked up for the days of the Games to follow.
“We are getting excited about the opportunity to host 2,800 youth and officials! There is a number of cultural activities that will go on during the games that will be open to the public. We also encourage some of the social activities for the kids to interact with kids from other parts of the province. That’s an important component of taking part in an event like this.”