Four young women from Elkford will be representing the East and West Kootenay region in the B.C. Winter Games this year.
On Monday, January 6, coach Dustin Smith got the word that there were no other competing teams from the region, meaning the Elkford team received an automatic entry to the games.
Smith said he was incredibly excited to hear the news since two years ago, the same team narrowly missed their chance to participate in the B.C. wide event.
“Two years ago, we competed with the same team except for one member in Kimberley in the play downs for the East and West. We lost by one point in the final curling match to get a seat to go to the winter games,” he explained. “This time I was super excited that they finally get an opportunity to go to a bigger competition level at the winter games.”
Abigail Talbot, Jorja Hamilton, Annaka Rodd and Taylor Smith make up the team. Hamilton, Rodd and Smith are all 15 years old, meaning that this is their last chance to quality for the B.C. Winter Games in curling, where athletes must be 15 years old or younger.
The B.C. Winter Games will be in Fort St. John this year from February 20 to 23 and will draw athletes from all over the province. According to Smith, the girls team has a one in six chance of being winners at the tournament. He said that with the teams coming from all over B.C. it is hard to predict how his team will perform.
“We’ve never really seen any of those teams but I’m hoping that with some experience and with some luck that we could do well at the games.”
Hamilton, Rodd and Smith have been playing together for four years and Talbot joined the team two years ago. With weekly practice sessions, participation in the Elkford open league, and various other training opportunities over the years, the girls make up a solid team of experienced curlers.
Smith said that when the girls heard the news, “they were really excited although they all wanted to know where Fort St. John was.”
Thanks to the winter games, the team will be bused from Sparwood to Cranbrook and then flown from Cranbrook to Fort St. John for the games. Smith is thankful to be able to avoid “an 18 or 19 hour bus ride up there.”
Smith believes that win or lose, being able to go to the winter games is a great opportunity for the girls.
“I think that the experience to be able to go and participate at the winter games is a unique opportunity for these young ladies.”