Penticton: 2016 BC Winter Games

Gymnasts did flips, while karate and judo students showed off their moves at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre Friday morning.

The athletic activity accompanied an announcement by MLA Bill Bennett, that the BC Winter Games were coming to Penticton  in 2016.

“It is with great pleasure that I announce Penticton will be the host of the 2016 BC Winter Games,” said Bennett. “Penticton is a great place for sports and a perfect community to host these games. The BC games are quite literally where it starts for a lot of athletes.”

The games feature sports ranging from alpine skiing to figure skating and judo and karate.

Over 2,100 athletes,  coaches and officials will participate in approximately 18 sports,  Feb. 25 to 28, 2016.  The games will be organized and staged by a community board of directors and 2.000 volunteers.

The city was the first host of the BC Summer Games back in 1978 and also hosted the 1990 winter games and 1995 BC Summer Games.

“With today’s announcement this fantastic host city has come full circle,” said MLA Bill Barisoff. “I  know that the people of Penticton will do a wonderful job hosting the 2016 BC Winter Games with the result that young athletes province-wide will benefit.”

James Shalman, the general manager of Apex Mountain Resort, said that if the games were to start tomorrow the resort would be ready to host them.

“It is very exciting and we have really amazing facilities already in place, from world cups in moguls and aerials in 2006 and 2007. Freestyle teams also come here to train,” he said. “ Our  local athletes are already exposed to competition and this will give them another platform, venue to showcase their  talents while having the home field advantage.”

Mogul skier Kristi Richards was also on hand to lend her support to the games.  She spoke of the games lifting her to new heights when she was young.

Kerrie McRann, the mother of two boys who do karate, said this is thrilling news not only for the young athletes but for the community as a whole.

While Wendy Nixon, the parent of a young gymnast, said her daughter will be 12 when the games come  to town, meaning she could possibly compete.

“I’m really excited about it and what it means for the young athletes,” she said.

The games will not only benefit athletes, they will also have a big economic impact in the South Okanagan, said Mayor Dan Ashton.

“The impact of hosting the BC Winter Games is estimated to be $1.8 million for the host community,” he said.

Karate coach Anne Ross said not only will kids be inspired to compete, as well as learn to be officials and referees, it will also be beneficial to Penticton’s hotels and restaurants.

“It will be a big boost for us, especially in the winter," she said.

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