Akbal Mund

Akbal Mund

Countdown to Winter Games

Tanya Callon has lots of memories competing at the 1992 B.C. Winter Games in Vernon.

Callon, then 13 and from Penticton, won gold and silver in Vernon in aerials and moguls. She would win gold in moguls and silver in the air two years later at the B.C. Winter Games in Smithers.

Now a resident of Coldstream, and a coach with the Silver Star Freestyle Ski Club and the B.C. Freestyle Ski Association, Callon has been a part of freestyle skiing for 19 years. She was on hand at the Wesbild Centre Tuesday night for the official countdown launch to the 2012 BC Winter Games set for Feb. 23-26 in Greater Vernon.

“What I remember the most is coming to Vernon and I was the only girl on the Zone 2 team,” said Callon, who has been part of freestyle skiing provincially for nearly 20 years. “We slept on cots in a school. I was quite nervous at first but I got to meet a lot of other girls and those girls became friends and, to this day, I still keep in touch with a lot of the friends I made in Vernon.”

Callon, who spent two years on the B.C. mogul team before qualifying for the national team, was among a handful of local athletes introduced by the local Winter Games committee who have competed with success at past Games.

Also introduced to the crowd were the three-time BCHL champion Vernon Vipers.

Local Winter Games committee president Akbal Mund welcomed the crowd and encouraged residents to help out with the event.

“I anticipate we won’t have any problems getting volunteers,” said Mund, who also introduced his 14-member board of directors. The committee will work with approximately 125 volunteer chairs, each of which has a committee of volunteers responsible for different operational areas of the Games.

It’s expected an estimated 2,800 volunteers will be involved in the Winter Games, which will see athletes, coaches and officials involved in 18 sports.

The only event taking place outside of Vernon will be speed skating, which will be held at the Nor-Val Sports Centre in Armstrong.

Sports in Vernon will include the likes of archery, badminton, girl’s hockey, curling, gymnastics, judo, karate, netball, figure skating and ringette.

Silver Star and the Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre will host the skiing events.

Kelly Mann, president and CEO of the B.C. Games Society, was also on hand to make a special announcement.

Mann was happy to announce a four-year partnership between the Games and Black Press, parent company of The Morning Star.

“The provincial network of Black Press papers and the B.C. Winter and B.C. Summer Games are in virtually every community in B.C.,” said Mann. “Black Press will be providing extensive coverage and advertising to support the B.C. Games and share the story of how the Games impact athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers and communities.”

“We’re really excited to be a part of this,” added Morning Star publisher Nathan Weathington. “The partnership fits well with Black Press and the fact we have papers in almost every B.C. community. We’re really excited about the B.C. Winter Games in Vernon. Our paper will give it coverage from beginning to end.”

It’s expected the Games will attract more than 2,100 athletes, coaches and officials from around the province.

The youngest possible athletes will be nine-years-old in figure skating, and the oldest possible able-bodied athletes will be 17-years-old in hockey and netball.

Athletes with a disability will range in age from 13 to 40 and will compete in skiing – cross-country (para) and skiing – alpine (para). Athletes with a disability include wheelchair athletes and visually impaired athletes.

The 2012 B.C. Summer Games will be in Surrey. The 2014 Games will be in Mission and Nanaimo.