Sunday, March 20, 2005 - Perspective Update: Welcome to Canada Games!

- By: Rhonda Sandau

Our entrance to the Moncton airport may be as close as I will come to a celebrity welcome. Fifteen Alberta athletes were deplaned from the aircraft at a time, escorted down the "airplane" bridge and greeted in the baggage claim with a loud applause. There were lights and cameras filming our entrance and scrambling to get an interview with some of the starred athletes. (The only thing missing was the red carpet!) Our welcome to the 2003 Canada Winter Games in New Brunswick was quite exciting.

The 2003 Canada Winter Games are being held in the Campbellton and Bathhurst, New Brunswick over the next two weeks (Feb.22th Ė March 8th). There are 23 sports participating, with teams from all 13 provinces and territories. The cross country skiing events will take place during the first week of competition, at the Les Aventuries nordic center, in Charlo, NB.

My first games were in 1999 in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. I was 17 years old and at my prime for taking in the complete Canada Games experience. I was focused on the races, but could easily be persuaded to take part in other games activities: pin and clothing trading, airplane pillow fights and watching other sports were all on the agenda. By the end of the week, everything was just a blur of fun memories. My favorite souvenir from the games was a hockey puck that I caught during the menís final hockey game, Alberta vs. Quebec. Of course, Alberta won!

It is now four years later and I am sure that my Canada Games experience will be slightly different than last time. There are many fun activities to keep us athleteís entertained, such as movies, televisions, video games and of course spectating other sports. However, as I consider the racing schedule of four races in five days, I donít know when I would have time to take part in any extracurricular activities. After only being here a couple of days, I have been busy with my race preparation and have not paid much attention to the other activities. I am more focussed on ski racing here than in 1999, and I do not find myself being distracted by the excitement of the games. 

The lack of distraction at these games is obviously due to my previous experience, where I took part in every activity possible. However, it is also due to my age. At these games it has occurred to several of us "senior" skiers that we are the eldest athletes participating in the games and at least five years older than the average age of the athletes participating. My teammate Tara Whitten has the distinguished title of being Albertaís oldest athlete at 22 years of age, ten years older than the youngest athlete. It is hard to believe that the six foot, 90 kg hockey players are all under 17 years of age! It is great to be around all the younger athletes, because it means that we can save our enthusiasm for the ski trails, while they take part in the exciting non-sport activities.

No matter how much older and more focused I am at these Canada Winter Games, I am certain that they will be a fun experience. By the end there will definitely be some exciting experiences and funny stories to be told!

Until next time,

Rhonda Sandau

Rhonda would like to thank her personal sponsors:




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