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Let the Winter Games begin

Airdrie opinion_text

About a year ago, I wrote a column expressing my excitement for the 2019 Canada Winter Games, which were held last February in Red Deer. I wrote that, considering Red Deer’s proximity to Airdrie and Rocky View County (RVC), it was well worth the short drive north to witness Canada’s next generation of elite winter athletes.

A year later, I felt it prudent to use this column to promote another winter sporting event that is right on our doorstep – the 2020 Alberta Winter Games, which will be held in Airdrie from Feb. 14 to 17.

Though smaller in scale than the Canada Winter Games, the Alberta Winter Games will showcase some of our province’s most talented young winter-sport athletes. Competitors, aged 11 to 17, will arrive in Airdrie from cities and towns throughout Alberta to compete in 16 different sports.

The Alberta Winter Games will be Airdrie’s biggest event in 2020, boasting 1,855 athletes, 475 coaches, 330 technical officials and more than 600 volunteers. The Games’ host society, which has been preparing for the event for more than a year, has projected an overall impact of $4.1 million on the local economy. According to a study from the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance, an expected 6,000-plus visitors will spend more than $1.4 million throughout the weekend at local businesses.

One of my favourite things about covering the Canada Winter Games in person last year was the general buzz that permeated throughout Red Deer while the event was held, as multi-sporting events like this always bring an Olympic-esque atmosphere to the host community. The Alberta Winter Games will be similar – no matter where you go in Airdrie that weekend, I promise you’ll encounter the “feel” of the Games in some way.

For those who aren’t into sports, a few venues in Airdrie will host community events, such as the Pride Family Skate Feb. 17 at Nose Creek Regional Park.

While most of the action will take place in Airdrie, one venue in RVC will host a competition, as the volleyball tournament will be held at the new Volleydome in Balzac.

Having attended these kinds of events before, I’d highly recommend residents head to Airdrie over the February long weekend to check out our elite local athletes. A day pass costs just $15, while a weekend pass is $35.

Dozens of athletes from Airdrie and RVC will compete under the Zone 2 (Big Country) banner and will be wearing maroon jerseys. I encourage everyone to buy tickets and some merchandise, and to support local elite winter athletes – you might just catch a future Olympian or two doing what they do best.

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