Joining more than 1,500 other youths, Terrace athletes descended on the BC Winter Games in Vernon, Feb. 23-26.
Picked up on a specially chartered flight, it was a diverse group that attended the games as athletes hailing from Vanderhoof to Haida Gwaii joined forces to create the Zone 7 team.
And feelings of excitement and wonder at the large-scale event were shared by all Terrace athletes.
“They were super excited just to be there, the energy down there was amazing,” said ringette coach Jacque Dahl.
The Zone 7 ringette team was a joint effort of players from Terrace, Houston and Courtenay B.C.
“They made a lot of friends,” she said of the players.
Out of four games played, the team lost all four, but Dahl said the players had a fantastic time.
Dahl said the players were able to watch a lot of ringette as well and pick up some pointers to build into their regular games.
”I think it was really exciting to see that level of play,” she explained.
Five players from the Terrace bantam female hockey team were also on the ice for Zone 7, and coach Mario Desjardins said the event was a great warm up for the provincial playdowns the Terrace players will be heading to this month.
“The calibre of hockey was excellent and really gave our zone’s girls an idea of what it’s going to take to take their game to the next level to be successful as a team and as individuals,” Desjardins said.
In four games played the Zone 7 team faced four losses.
However, Desjardins explains that to keep things in perspective, the bulk of the team was 13 and 14-year-olds, who took on teams with a larger roster made up primarily of 14 and 15-year-old players.
“Overall, the girls had a great experience, made some new friends and will have some great memories for life,” he said.
The Terrace Junior Badminton club competed on behalf of Zone 7 and came seventh out of eight zones.
Coach for the team Norm Parry said the team played well, offering solid competition to other teams, and cheering each other on all the way through.
“We were a reasonable team of reasonable strength,” Parry said, noting the team came up against very strong players competing from the Vancouver area. “Other than that, we held our own to anyone else in the province.”
For most of the players, it was their first major competition and Parry said while it was little intimidating and different at first, all rose to the occasion.
In fact, he said this experience has prompted players to want to attend more competitive tournaments outside of Terrace, and the team is considering competing at a tournament this month in Prince George.
Rudi Peters brought two alpine skiers to the games, and said their experience was fun, but the skiing conditions made competition disappointing.
Because of weather and course conditions, he ended up advising his two skiers, Shivhon Peters and Liam Buchannan, to take it easy on some runs.
Day one saw a dense fog, which was followed by freezing rain, making the course dangerous for speed.
“[I told them] just enjoy the scenery as you go down, this is not worth risking injury over,” Peters said.
Because of this, he explained the results were not necessarily an accurate reflection of performance. Out of 51 competitors, Buchanan placed 38th in the slalom race, 34th in the giant slalom and 39th in skier cross.
Out of 50 competitors in her events, Shivohn placed 48th in the slalom and 41st in skier cross.
He expressed his disappointment with the grooming methods at the ski hill, noting that at one point a snowblower was being used to clear the runs.
“A lot of kids had a crazy crash because you couldn’t see what was happening,” Peters said.
Peters said the experience of the opening ceremonies was one of the highlights of their trip.
“It’s extremely moving walking in with the athletes,” he said. “The kids were just amazed by that.”
Head instructor on Shames Mountain Chance Healey took three of his members from the Northwest Freeriders, Nick Ferguson, Jared Thornton and Braydon Moretti, all from Kitimat, to the games.
“The big thing about this whole event was just going down there and seeing what was going on, they have competition that we don’t normally have in our region,” Healey said.
He said the skiers enjoyed the big air event the most, partially because it was their first chance to ski on a big air sanctioned run, and partially because jumping though the air is just a whole lot of fun.
Out of 21 big air competitors, Thornton received 14th place, Ferguson came 17th and Moretti received 19th place.
In the moguls category out of 23 skiers, Ferguson came 19th , Thornton came 21st and Moretti did not compete.
As all had just reached 12 years of age, they were young to be at the event, and Healey said they will have another chance to attend at the 2014 BC Winter Games.
Skiing from Terrace in the cross-country events was Ria Vandenberg, who said the games were a lot of fun.
Vandenberg participated in three races, starting out in the 5km where she placed 13th out of 16 skiers.
“It wasn’t really hard but it (the run) had a huge long hill at the end which killed us,” Vandenberg said.
Next she took on the 400 metre sprints where Vandenberg again placed 13th out of 16. The final event was a relay event which Vandenberg said was the most fun. Her team took an unofficial third place, as she was skiing with skiers from other zones due to illness on her team.