Ponoka’s 10 torch bearers pose for a group photo at the Stagecoach prior to the start of the final rural stop of the 2019 MNP Canada Winter Games torch relay on Feb. 7. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

WATCH: Ponoka marks last stop on Canada Winter Games torch relay (with photos)

The torch relay will close in Red Deer and help kick off the 2019 Canada Winter Games

It was a historic day for Ponoka as the longest and largest Canada Winter Games torch relay neared its conclusion.

On Feb. 7. Ponoka became the last stop on the nationwide event before the torch makes its way to the host city of Red Deer for a tour and the opening ceremony on Feb. 15. The national youth sporting event, which features 21 different sports, runs until March 3.

A total of 10 torch bearers — Nolan Lee, Jayden Crane, Tegan Poitras, Calvin David, Shawna Pearman, Maddison Pearman, Chad Harden, Ponoka Mayor Rick Bonnett, Kaeleigh Boston, Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ronald Orr — carried the torch from the Stampede Grounds through downtown then made its way past Ponoka Secondary Campus, Centennial Park, Ponoka Elementary and St. Augustine schools before returning to the Stagecoach Saloon for the official ceremony and speeches.

RELATED: Official torchbearers for 2019 Canada Winter Games announced

The runners were greeted along the way by residents, friends and family at various points along the route — with many of the torch bearers choosing to join the convey of people gathered behind until the relay’s conclusion — all of whom braved the biting wind and cold temperature in spite of the sunshine.

For Ponoka native and Canada Winter Games alumni, speed skater Maddison Pearman, the opportunity to participate in such a memorable event at home is extra significant.

“Being a part of the relay, in Ponoka and with the games in Red Deer where my home club is, makes it a really special opportunity to be part of something that’s never happened before,” said Pearman, who competed in short-track speedskating at the 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax.

“I was around when the torch relay for the (2010) Vancouver Winter Olympics came around, and even though I didn’t get to be in it that helped ignite a flame.”

VIDEO: Red Deer is fired up for the 2019 Canada Winter Games

With the relay soon to come to a close, 2019 Canada Winter Games host society CEO Scott Robinson praised the many central Alberta communities that have provided their support for not only the relay, but for the Games itself.

“The response we received has been phenomenal for both the relay tour through central Alberta and also the Games. The reality is that we couldn’t host this event with that support, as about 85 per cent of our Games volunteers are from central Alberta,” he said.

Scott added the relay, along with the Catch the Spirit events held at schools throughout the region the past few months, are ways to help engage the entire region and make it ‘their’ Games.

“While we would have liked to bring some of the events to these communities, it just isn’t possible. So, through events like the relay and others, it’s a great chance to involve them and that way they are more likely to come witness some sports and take in other events going on.”

Scott also noted the final touches are being placed on the various venues and volunteers are ready for the Games to kick off.

Visit https://www.canadagames.ca/2019 to find our more information on tickets and the free community events going on.



jordie.dwyer@ponokanews.com

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The official 2019 MNP Canada Winter Games torch. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

The fifth and sixth legs of the Ponoka portion of the 2019 MNP Canada Winter Games torch relay was a family affair, featuring daughter Maddison Pearman (left) receiving the torch from her mother Shawna near the Ponoka Secondary Campus. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

This embrace between mother Shawna and daughter Maddison Pearman during the exchange of the torch was a warm moment on an otherwise chilly February day. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

Ponoka native and Canada Winter Games alumni athlete Maddison Pearman is surrounded by fellow torch bearers as she nears the end of her relay leg near Centennial Park. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

As Ponoka is well-known for its Stampede, it makes sense that one of the famous names in professional chuckwagon racing - Chad Harden - was one of the torch bearers during the relay held Feb. 7 in Ponoka. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

Ponoka Mayor Rick Bonnett, left, stands with professional chuckwagon driver Chad Harden for this exchange of the 2019 MNP Canada Winter Games torch as the relay wound its way through the community. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

Ponoka Mayor Rick Bonnett leads the pack of fellow torch bearers, who continued walking the relay route after their individual legs. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

Kaeleigh Boston holds the 2019 MNP Canada Winter Games torch while some relay watchers get a photo, before carrying on with her leg of the relay. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

Kaeleigh Boston, left, makes the final exchange of the relay with Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr near St. Augustine School before it returned to the Ponoka Stampede grounds for an official ceremony. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

With a number of the other Ponoka torch bearers congregating behind and ready to trek the final leg, Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr accepts the torch from Kaeleigh Boston near St. Augustine School. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Off trudges up the incline toward the Stagecoach Saloon on the Ponoka Stampede grounds on the final leg of the relay. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Off on final approach at the Stampede grounds with the 2019 MNP Canada Winter Games torch as the final event before it head to Red Deer comes to an end. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

Going down the first hill on 50 Street had folks coming out to cheer on the torch relay. Nolan Lee was the first torch bearer to represent Ponoka on this leg. Photo by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

Ponoka’s Nolan Lee stays warm despite a wintry Thursday in Ponoka on the first leg of the 2019 Canada Winter Games torch relay. Photo by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

Passing on the torch is Nolan Lee to Jayden Crane who took on the second leg of the torch relay across from the Hamilton’s IGA complex. Photo by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

The flame stays lit as Jayden Crane takes the second leg of the torch relay. Photo by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

Collecting the torch on the third leg of the torch relay is Tegan Poitras just at Chipman Avenue. Photo by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

Ponoka’s Cal David waives to the camera on the fourth leg of the 2019 Canada Winter Games torch relay which made its way through 50 Street. Photo by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

Ponoka’s Cal David waives to the camera on the fourth leg of the 2019 Canada Winter Games torch relay which made its way through 50 Street. Photo by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

Collecting the torch on the third leg of the torch relay is Tegan Poitras just at Chipman Avenue. Photo by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

Ponoka’s Shawna Pearman, and speed skate coach took part in the torch relay. She eventually handed the torch to her daughter Maddison at Ponoka Secondary Campus. Photo by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

Ponoka’s Shawna Pearman, and speed skate coach took part in the torch relay. She eventually handed the torch to her daughter Maddison at Ponoka Secondary Campus. Photo by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

Along 50 Street and Chipman Avenue, Tegan Poitras collects the 2019 Canada Winter Games torch from Jayden Crane. Despite the cold temperatures, many folks came out for the relay. Photo by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

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