The Alberta Winter games will be held Feb. 14 to 17 and Ponoka will have plenty to cheer about during the games. Ponoka will be sending 15 athletes in speed skating, figure skating, volleyball, judo and wrestling. The games will be held in Leduc with 24 different sports and 2,800 athletes, coaches and officials participating. There will be 2,500 volunteers along with a dozen staff, 4,000 spectators are expected with an estimated economic impact of $3 million. Competing athletes range from 11 to 17 representing eight zones around Alberta, Ponoka is a part of zone four.
According to their website the Alberta Games began as a provincial government initiative for amateur sport, providing an opportunity for all Albertans to participate. The first Alberta Winter Games were held in Banff in 1976 and the first Alberta Summer Games were held in Calgary in 1974.
Brooke, 14, and Maddison, 12, Pearman have been speed skating for the last eight and are both excited about making it to the games.
Both girls have set their goals in preparation for their events.
“I hope to get a medal in at least one of my races and place overall in the top four,” said Brooke.
“I want to get a medal in my races and the pursuit,” said Maddison.
They both enjoy speed skating the enjoyment of the sport and the friends that they have made over the years.
The girls became involved initially because their mom Shawna was interested in the sport. She thinks that it is a great event for the girls and it’s kind of like the Olympics.
“It’s a great experience for them and they both are skating very well,” said Shawna. “I think they have a good chance of winning. Brooke should finish in the top four and Maddison should win first. They have trained very hard.
The girls qualified for the games by doing trials at their club and the top two from each age category. The games will be a family affair for the Pearman’s as Shawna coaches the girls, their father Myron will be one of the starters for the games and their younger sister Tess, who is also involved in skating will be volunteering at the games.
The zone four wrestling team has a very special Ponoka connection it has the most wrestlers from one school on the team.
Coach Lori Kirchner works at St. Augustine School and went in and made presentation to gym classes who had students eligible and informed them that they could be ready for the tryouts. She also noted that there are not a lot of wrestlers in zone four and that they had a good chance at qualifying.
The school is sending 10 wrestlers to compete in the games; Duro Baden, Jacod Gartner, Rebekah Harper, Isaac McDonald, Chanal Mandrusiak, Ian McGinnis, Brett Rogalski, Katie Walcheske, Helena Winter, Nicole Marburg and coaches Jesse and Lori Kirchner.
The team has done very well this year taking home a lot of hardware. The girls won the top team at the St. Cecillia Paperweight invitational tournament in Edmonton at the Butterdome. The boy’s team are also doing very well they have medaled at every event and won four gold’s, one silver and two bronze at the Dan Knott tournament.
Lori thinks that is a great opportunity and experience for them and is very happy for the kids.
“I think we will have some wins and some losses, I am expecting Katie to medal and I am thinking we will bring home about six medals maybe more,” she said. “I think it will be great for them with excellent team building, meeting lots of new people and they are looking forward to the dance and the opening ceremonies.”
Jenna Brake, 13, will be bumping, setting and spiking on the zone four girls volleyball team and is looking forward to the games.
Brake a Grade 8 student at St. A’s has been playing volleyball for two years and played club volleyball last year. She likes playing because she thinks it is a cool sport, enjoys spiking and overhead serving.
The tryouts for the team were held in the middle of December and Brake said they had to do a number of different drills and were referred to by a number all day.
“I was really nervous at first, I didn’t know anybody but it got better as the day went on but I met a friend from my club team,” said Brake.
The team has been practicing every Sunday since then and are all excited for the games.
“I have a great bunch of girls that I play with. I am really excited but nervous at the same time because I have never been to the winter games before but I think it will be pretty fun,” she said. “I have learned a lot already from my coach and she’s just a really good coach and I have learned a lot from the other girls.”
Her goal is to not miss any serves and to talk a lot on the court. She also notes that she has learned a great deal on her passing and serving ability and a brand new rotation scheme.
Her mom is very proud of her making the team and hopes that she continues to learn with the experience.
“It’s going to be such a great experience for her to have. This kind of exposure to a different level of competition will be great for her,” said her mom. “ Playing on any team sport is such a life skill, getting along with your team and playing with a team. She has a great positive attitude I know that will take her far and I hope she has fun. “
Brake hopes to continue with volleyball and her goal is to someday obtain a volleyball scholarship at a post secondary institution.
Cole Hogarth, 11, is both nervous and excited going into the Alberta Winter games in Judo. He has been working hard since qualifying practicing two to three times a week.
“I think it’s a lot of fun. Knowing that I am one of the best in Alberta in my weight category is pretty awesome,” said Hogarth. “I want to place at the games and I want to work on my standing and defence.”
This is his third year in Judo and thinks that this is his biggest accomplishment thus far and also recently one first place at a tournament in Red Deer.
His mother is also very proud of him and thinks that he has improved a great deal this year.
“I hope that he learns sportsmanship, respect for the sport and that he has a good time,” she said.
Cole is also looking forward to being in the athletes village and being with friends.
Also from Ponoka is Victoria Boardman competing in figure skating.
To find out how the Ponoka athletes are doing and all the provincial athletes you can check out the games official website www.2008albertawintergames.com.