Greater Vernon B.C. Winter Games preparations now down to the wire

More than 2,000 volunteers in place for the B.C. Winter Games which run Feb. 23-26 in Greater Vernon and Armstrong...

Last-minute stuff like finding 8,000 pounds of bulk roofing shingles is no problem for Akbal Mund and the Greater Vernon B.C. Winter Games committee.

Dealing with Mother Nature, however, is another thing.

The shingles, on loan from Bob Anderson and Home Building Centre Vernon, are to hold the gymnastics equipment in place at the Priest Valley Gymnasium.

“We’ve never done that, but it was a recommendation from the B.C. Games Society so we’re going to do that,” said Mund, president of the local organizing committee.

A total of 16 sports will compete at 12 venues in Vernon and Armstrong, with biathlon and cross-country skiing set for the Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre, and alpine and freestyle skiing to be held at Silver Star.

Mund wouldn’t mind a little help from Mother Nature for the outdoor events.

“Let’s hope it snows next week,” said Mund. “We were up at Silver Star on Sunday and everything is still nice. All of the venues are set.”

More than two years after being awarded the Games, which begin next Thursday, Mund and his committee are down to a week of finalizing details.

Invitations are being sent out to the opening and closing ceremonies (both of which are open to the public and will be held at the Wesbild Centre), provincial receptions and luncheons.

More than 2,000 volunteers are in place, although some are still needed in food services.

Mund said there have been a few hiccups along the way, but with the strong organizational team in place, issues are being solved as they come up.

“It’s kind of surreal,” he said about the Games being only a week away. “I’m not really thinking in one week it’s all over. Everybody’s full-bore going ahead, we’ll get it done. It doesn’t even hit you that we’ve been doing this for two years.”

The opening ceremonies will take place Feb. 23 at Wesbild Centre. A total of 19 runners will begin a torch relay in Vernon at 8 p.m., culminating with the torch being brought in to the Wesbild Centre at around 8:25 or 8:30 p.m.

The person who will light the Games torch remains a mystery, even to the local president.

“I have no idea who it is, to be honest with you,” said Mund. “It will be somebody high up.”

Events for the Games include archery (Vernon Secondary), badminton (Clarence Fulton Secondary), biathlon and cross-country skiing (Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre), curling (Vernon Curling Club), figure skating (Priest Valley Arena), gymnastics (Priest Valley Gymnasium), female hockey (Wesbild Centre), judo (Kalamalka Secondary), karate (Pleasant Valley Secondary, Armstrong), netball (W.L. Seaton Secondary), ringette (Vernon Civic Arena), alpine and freestyle skiing (Silver Star Mountain Resort) and speed skating (Nor-Val Sports Centre, Armstrong).