Weather hiccup impacts Summer Games schedule
Mother Nature decided to throw the biggest obstacle into a relatively smooth running first half of the 2019 Western Canada Summer Games.
The first half sports wrapped up on Tuesday, with over 300 medals already presented during the first five days of the August 9 to 18 competition
“We’ve been having a great start to the Games so far,” Sport Co-chair Morgan Montgomery said during a press conference at the Innovation Credit Union iplex on Monday morning. “We have a few days under our belt for quite a few sports and things seem to be going well.”
And with 1,700 athletes competing in 16 sports at 13 venues during the 10 day event, some individual achievements have already made an impact on organizers.
“We’ve had a lot great moments that have taken place so far,” Montgomery admitted.
“Last night (Sunday) at the iplex, the basketball game that took place (Saskatchewan versus Manitoba) was fantastic. Some of the kids have made comments that it feels like playing in Madison Square Gardens, or their version of it.”
Nunavut made their beach volleyball debut at the Games in Swift Current, with the mens’ team winning their first ever games over two teams from the Yukon, while the women’s team collected their first ever game victory as well.
“They were really thrilled. It’s been great to see some of those moments take place.”
Additionally, at the Canoe/kayak venue at Lac Pelletier, 11-year-old Manitoba athlete William Wintoniw helped Manitoba collect a bronze medal in the C4 500 metre final.
“What a great experience for him,” Montgomery said. “We were talking to him in the (Athlete’s) Village last night and he’s just beaming with pride.”
Attendance has been reportedly strong for all events over the start of the Games.
“We’re really thrilled with the attendance,” Montgomery admitted, pointing out there were 800 fans at a softball game, beach volleyball has enjoyed a rocking crowd for each game, plus soccer has also enjoyed boisterous fans.
Phase one pre-purchased wristbands were physically sold out, so they had to secure a new supply of wristbands to meet the strong demand. They pointed out they have not been in danger of selling out any venue.
“We’re just happy to see the community really involved in our Games,” Sport Cochairs Denise Levorson said.
Rain on Monday did result in an array of cancellations and rescheduling.
Soccer games on Monday were relocated to the SCCHS field, which was a back-up venue put into service when soaking rains made field conditions unplayable. However the medal round games on Tuesday returned to their usual venues.
Canoe and kayak events and softball games were cancelled because of poor weather on Monday but resumed to wrap up on Tuesday.
The Highland Coulee Trails Mountain Bike course was unusable following Monday’s heavy rain, so volunteers worked to prepare an impromptu course that allowed the athletes to complete the mountain bike portion of their competition on Tuesday.
Second half athletes began showing up on Tuesday afternoon, with the second half of the Games beginning yesterday.
“Besides the weather today (Monday), things have been going great. The City of Swift Current and our surrounding rural communities that have been involved have really jumped on board. So any of the hiccups or minor things that you see in any sporting event, but really the spectators and the athletes haven’t taken notice. And that’s our biggest win. We want to make sure that they’re here and enjoying their experience, and we’ve got the rest managed from the back,” Montgomery said.
Organizers are also seeing volunteer numbers continue to grow as the Games progress.
“As the Games have started and people are taking in some of the competition, they’re wanting to get involved. The UDAC (Uniform Distribution and Accreditation Centre) has actually seen people coming in now that weren’t originally signed up and saying ‘you know I watched this event, I’d like to get out and help, do you still need some help?’ Absolutely we’ll take them wherever they want to be.”
Team Saskatchewan cyclist Toni B’yauling won a bronze medal in the Cross Country Mountain Bike event on Tuesday during one of the final events of the first half of the Games.
Saskatchewan captain Nammi Nguyen (centre) put home the tying goal during a 1-1 draw against Manitoba to open the 2019 Western Canada Summer Games on Friday.