Hemlock Resort has been preparing for the BC Winter Games for the past four years, and this weekend the big event is here.
“We’ve been running events over the course of the last four years, stepping up our competition levels,” said Kevin Bourdin, manager at Hemlock. The Hemlock Ski Club was instrumental in bringing the Games to Hemlock and Mission, and the ski hill has been supporting them all the way.
“We support them by providing grooming, and do a lot of the fundraising for them to make sure they’re successful,” he said. “They were quite involved in the original proposal to have the Games here.”
The opening ceremony is tonight in Mission, at the Mission Raceway, and that will feature a dazzling show of dance and music that celebrates sports. And on Friday, the BC Winter Games will kick off, with events in mostly in Mission, Abbotsford and Hemlock. Some events will take place in surrounding communities, including Langley, Maple Ridge and Whistler.
Alpine and freestyle skiing takes place at Hemlock Friday through Sunday, with competitions beginning at 10 a.m., and medals at 3:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 11:30 a.m. on Sunday.
Bourdin said there is no extra cost to be a spectator for the Games at Hemlock, however, those hoping to see some of the action will need to be able to ski or snowboard and will need a lift ticket to access the viewing areas.
“You need to be a skier or a boarder,” he said. “It’s quite a steep hike.”
The hill will remain open for the duration of the Games, with minor disruption to available courses, he said. The event will only take up one full run (Roddy’s) and the one side of another run. The terrain park and the lower part of Pete’s Pass will also be used for freestyle and moguls.
In total, 160 skiers will be competing through BC Alpine, and another 60 will compete freestyle. A further 12 will be competing from the Disabled Skiers Association.
Bourdin said they’re thrilled to be hosting the event, after all the buildup. But what’s really got him excited is the new snow on the hill. They’ve had almost two metres of new snow in the past 72 hours, he said Wednesday.
“This is the snow we should have had in December, but it’s all showing up at once,” he said.
It makes for great conditions for some, but for alpine competitors, the preferred conditions are “harder and firmer,” he said.
They’ll be working hard to get the hill groomed for perfect racing conditions.
While there is a full schedule of ski events, snowboarding is not currently a BC Winter Games sport. Bourdin said that could change in the near future, as more sanctioned competitive groups begin to form and then mature.
“We just started our club this year,” he said, and he expects it to continue to grow.
For a full schedule of race times, visit www.bcgames.org. For up to date coverage on all events, including features, stats and results, visit the Observer online and click the BC Games tab.