The countdown is on for the 2020 Alberta Winter Games, to be held in Airdrie Feb. 14 to 17.
Shauna Quinn, executive chair of the Games’ host society, said preparations are ramping up as the four-day event inches closer.
“It’s absolutely pedal to the metal, and it is now crunch time to get everything done,” she said. “But things are looking really good, and it’s just a matter of dotting the Is, crossing the Ts and making sure we’re all in sync to the plans that are happening.”
According to Quinn, 1,855 high-level winter athletes – ranging in age from 11 to 17 – will compete in 16 sports throughout the weekend. The Games will also include 475 coaches, 330 technical officials and more than 600 volunteers.
Athletes and teams will be split into eight zones, based on geography. Rocky View County (RVC) athletes will compete under the Zone 2 (Big Country) banner, and at least 43 athletes will represent the county's communities – two from Bragg Creek, four from Chestermere, 25 from Cochrane, one from Crossfield, one from Langdon and 10 from RVC.
“The Zone 2 colour is maroon, so wear your maroon scarves, make some posters and celebrate the efforts these kids have put forward in making these Games, because it’s not an easy feat,” Quinn said.
Quinn, who has been preparing for the Games for more than a year, said local marketing efforts will ramp up in the lead up to the opening ceremony, and banners, advertisements and signage will start popping up more frequently.
“Now that we’ve hit 2020 and the cold weather is here, people realize we’re actually really close to the Games,” she said. “For some people, it might be nostalgic and bring back memories from when Airdrie was the host city for the 2014 Alberta Summer Games.”
The event will also stimulate the local economy, as the municipality gets set to welcome more than 6,000 visitors. According to Quinn, an economic impact study projected spending by visitors would amount to $1.4 million, while the overall economic impact to Airdrie would be more than $4 million.
Fifteen venues will be abuzz with competition, including Genesis Place Recreation Centre, Ron Ebbesen Arena, Plainsmen Arena and the Airdrie Curling Club. Seven local schools will also host events.
Some sports will be held outside the city – speed skating and artistic swimming will be held in Calgary, biathlon and cross-country skiing will take place in Canmore, and volleyball will be held at the Volleydome in Balzac. Due to a lack of venue availability over the February long weekend, the skiing and snowboarding competitions take place on separate weekends.
Considering the high calibre of the athletes, Quinn said she encourages everyone to check out the Games.
“If you look at the history of the Alberta Games, a lot of these athletes go on to compete at a high level of competition, including the Olympics,” she said. “Your friend, your classmate at school who is competing in hockey or ringette…could be one of our next NHL players or Olympians. It’s great to get out and cheer them on for this opportunity.”
Day passes costs $15, while a weekend pass for entry into every sporting event is $35. For more information, visit bit.ly/2FRasVM