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Athletes vie for medals at 2019 Canada Winter Games

It was a week full of mixed emotions for four Rocky View County (RVC) athletes who are competing in the 2019 Canada Winter Games, as they experienced the ups and downs of competition.
Blocking the view
Balzac ringette player Alyssa Hall attempts to screen New Brunswick’s goaltender, Feb. 18. Hall competed on Team Alberta at the 2019 Canada Winter Games.

It was a week full of mixed emotions for four Rocky View County (RVC) athletes who are competing in the 2019 Canada Winter Games, as they experienced the ups and downs of competition. On the ice in Red Deer, Dalemead’s Marla Wheeler and Balzac’s Alyssa Hall skated alongside the Alberta ringette team in a tournament that started with a surprising – and disappointing – 8-5 defeat to Nova Scotia Feb. 16. Despite a great third-quarter showing that brought the home team back into it, the Maritimers finished strong in the fourth interval to take the three-goal win. “Obviously, we expected the outcome to be a lot better,” Hall said. “The third quarter was really good. We have a bigger mountain to climb for our next few games.” Alberta fared better in its second contest, overcoming New Brunswick 6-4 in front of a packed crowd Feb. 17. “We came out hard and just kept pushing through the entire game, and came out with the win at the other end,” said Wheeler, who was playing on defence. “Each quarter, we gave it our all, instead of just playing well in the one quarter.” An 8-7 loss to Manitoba meant Alberta finished fourth in Pool B. The home team then punched its ticket to the quarterfinals with an 11-2 thumping of Prince Edward Island during the wildcard game Feb. 20. But Alberta’s run to the medal rounds came to a halt later that afternoon, when the team lost to Ontario 8-6. The home team concluded its tournament with consolation games against New Brunswick and Saskatchewan. Despite the team’s final placement, Hall and Wheeler both said it was a tremendous honour to play at the Canada Winter Games. “It was good to have the support of all our fans and to be able to see them in the stands,” Wheeler said.

Artistic swimming

Over at the Repsol Sports Centre in Calgary, Cochrane’s Adora Kruger was the first RVC athlete to win a gold medal at this year's Games, as a member of Alberta’s artistic swimming team. Kruger, a first-year student at Mount Royal University, is the only member of Team Alberta who doesn’t hail from Calgary. Still, the 18-year-old is very familiar with her teammates, as they all compete alongside her with the Calgary Aquabelles. The gold-medal-winning team already had plenty of chemistry before the Canada Winter Games, according to Kruger. “It’s really nice because we can meet up on the odd Tuesday morning to do an extra couple hours of training,” she said. “On the weekends, we do 14-hour training camps – seven hours a day for two days.” Alberta showed that chemistry was on point Feb. 20, when the team topped the standings during the preliminary round. “I thought it went absolutely amazing,” Kruger said. “We were all connected and swimming as a unit – just energizing each other.” Team Alberta competed Feb. 21 in the finals and earned first place with a cumulative score of 159.0363 points. Along with the team event, Kruger competed in the duet competition Feb. 21 alongside Natalie Greenfield. The pair swam to an 11th-place finish. “We did pretty good,” Kruger said. “My duet partner and I have only been swimming together for around three weeks. We swam really connected and were super synchronized.” Kruger, who has been competing in artistic swimming for about 10 years, said her mother got her into the sport when she was just seven years old. “She actually went to the Canada Winter Games in 1979,” Kruger said. “She wanted me to have the same experiences as her growing up, which I’m super happy about, because I love the sport.” Other athletes from RVC who are competing during the second week of the Canada Winter Games include hockey players Bree Kennedy (Chestermere) and Sarah Wozniewicz (Cochrane) and curler Juliana MacKenzie (Cochrane).

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