The BC Winter Games wrapped up on Sunday in Penticton with local athletes bringing home plenty of hardware.
The Kootenay Zone 1 team took home 28 medals, including 10 gold, 12 silver, and 6 bronze at the three-day event that saw close to 1,700 athletes converge on the Okanagan city to compete in 17 sports.
Rossland’s Andrew Sibbald won silver in three-metre and bronze in one-metre boys diving, while Jasmine Drolet claimed bronze in Midget girls cross-country skiing. Salmo’s Haley Olinyk with guide Michaela Richens captured two gold medals in para-interval start and para-interval sprint mixed standing skiing, and Kootenay Bay’s Jessica Rideout won silver in the same events with Sofeya Devji as her guide. Red Mountain Racer Heiko Ihns of Castlegar also captured gold in the slalom and silver in Giant Slalom.
Sibbald trains at the Greater Trail Aquatic and Leisure Centre but once a month he travels to the Lower Mainland to practice with the South Surrey White Rock Divers (SSWRD). His diving coach, Lisa Martin, was proud of the Rossland native’s accomplishments at the Games, and impressed with his commitment.
“Andrew is super dedicated, most of my other kids wouldn’t do that,” Martin told Games reporter Sawyer Klassen. “He trains really hard by himself, we try to give him all the pointers we can while he’s up in Trail. He comes down once a month, learns some new dives and then goes back up there to perfect them.”
Sibbald’s hard work paid off as he exceeded his expectations and broke the 200-point barrier in both his dives. Sibbald scored 200.3 points in 3-metre and 200.9 in the 1 metre to plant himself firmly among BC’s best young divers.
“It’s very exciting, because coming into this competition there were a lot of pretty good divers that I haven’t dove with in a long time,” Sibbald said. “I was really worried, but getting second place was exciting.”
Meanwhile, at the Nickel Plate Nordic Centre, Richens guided Olinyk, who is visually impaired, to victory in the five-kilometre para-category of cross-country skiing.
“(It’s) such a positive experience, helping your best friend reach the finish line,” said Richens, who has been friends with Olinyk since Grade 3.
Things on the course went well, but Olinyk pointed out that there were more hills than they’re used to and the crowd was also a bit daunting.
“(There’s) such a huge audience and all of B.C. is watching,” Olinyk told Games reporter Emanuel Sequeira, noting that it was her first BC games.
It was cool to win, but it was great to see her friend have the experience, said Olinyk, who won gold with Canada at the International Blind Sports Association Games in Colorado Springs in goal ball last year.
“I’m glad I brought (Richens) with me so she could experience it.”
Fraser River’s Zone 4 team claimed top spot overall with 42 gold, 44 silver, and 21 bronze for 107 total. Vancouver Coast was right behind them with a 105-medal haul: 35 gold, 27 silver, and 43 bronze.