For a group of young athletes from the Connaught Skating, this weekend is much more than trying to win medals.
The Richmond-based skating club will be well-represented at the BC Winter Games in Fort St. John that gets underway tonight with the opening ceremonies and concludes on Sunday.
William Chan, Louie Fukuda-Wu, Anya Li, Yolanda Tan, Alexa Christianson earned spots on their zone teams thanks to their performances last November in Juvenile and Pre-Novice Divisions at the BC/Yukon Sectional Championships. Connaught coaches Matthew McEwan and Shawn Cuevas also made the trip up north.
The contingent left on a charter flight Wednesday and will be staying at nearby schools with other athletes.
"This experience for them is not only their first multi-sport event but also the first time being away from their parents and experiencing a competition on their own as athletes,” explained McEwan. “They have never attended an event at this scale with this much of an atmosphere.”
Anya Li has known for a couple of months she will be competing at the Pre-Novice level. It means continuing to train her programs from last season at a time of year where work is well-underway for the 2020-21 competition schedule.
“I’m nervous but extremely excited at the same time. This is the first time travelling without my parents,” smiled the 12-year-old. “I’m looking forward to being in a community with other skaters and athletes too.
“I’ve been working on new jumps and spins but I think I’m definitely better with my last season programs too.”
Cuevas was 13 when he attended the BC Winter Games as an athlete in Kitimat.
“I remember it being a super fun experience and everyone was just in it for the fun,” he recalled. “It helped me really enjoy skating at that time and make new friends from other clubs too.”
Both coaches are aware their responsibilities go well beyond the ice rink this weekend.
“As coaches, it’s a learning experience for us as well, not so much with the skating but outside of that in taking care of athletes. It’s a great learning opportunity,” added McEwan.