Kelowna revives fortunes of a winter event

Kelowna’s lasting legacy for the International Children’s Games hosted by our city last weekend is that the winter version of this event can work.

Speed skaters Jordan Rosborough (front) and Chris Neykov round the corner during an exhibition skate at the International Children’s Games venue

Kelowna’s lasting legacy for the International Children’s Games hosted by our city last weekend is that the winter version of this event can work.

While the summer version of the ICG has carried on annually since Celje, Slovenia, hosted the inaugural event in 1968, the winner version of the Games has not taken off in the same way.

Kelowna was the fifth city to host an International Children’s Winter Games, with the next city to host the Winter Games in three years yet to be named.

Close to 500 athletes and 126 coaches descended on Kelowna for this year’s ICG, representing 38 cities from 13 countries. New sports were also introduced—ice hockey and speed skating.

Heather Schneider, chair of the Kelowna organizing committee, said that Team Kelowna’s 69 athletes and 19 coaches, the largest competing delegation, were also “great ambassadors.”

“As the host city, they were all great representatives of our community,” she said.

Schneider talked about the legacy of hosting the ICG for Kelowna in her final remarks at a press conference on Monday.

She said ICG officials were impressed by both the level of competition and the quality of the venues. One of the goals of the host city is to give athletes an experience of a lifetime, downplaying the importance of winning over the spirit of competition and meeting fellow athletes in their favourite sports.

Schneider said Kelowna was a convergence of shared experiences for athletes last weekend, based, she said, on the social network communication and the enthusiasm of being part of the ICG.

“One example of that is we know of two boys from the Darmstadt (Germany) hockey team who want to come back here this summer to train,” Schneider said, noting both kids’ parents were impressed by the “hockey experience” Kelowna has to offer.

Another legacy is that Kelowna is already primed to send a team to compete at the International Children’s Summer Games in Lanarkshire, Scotland, next summer, Aug. 3 to 8.

A team of 18 athletes competing in sailing, swimming, golf and track and field will represent Kelowna, as Schneider introduced two of them at the press conference

Tia Itterman, a 13-year-old swimmer with the Aqua Jets team, and Elizabeth Hardy, a 14-year-old 4.7 Laser single handed sailing class competitor, both said they were excited about the opportunity to literally compete in international waters. (See photos page A3.)

For Itterman, it will be her first trip to Europe, while Hardy was in France in November to take a training program in the Mediterranean Sea.

Like all their ICG teammates, they were chosen because of their age—all ICG athletes are 12 to 15 years of age—and the points they had accrued competing in local events.

Eric Stansfield, media coordinator for the Kelowna ICG organizing committee, said Monday it was hard to believe the event was over. “All the preparation that goes into hosting an event like this, it’s hard to believe how it’s over so suddenly,” Stansfield said on Monday.

“But for the most part we are all on Cloud Nine. We received a lot of positive feedback so we all feel pretty good about that.

“The kids really loved the experience…they soaked it all up.”