Local athletes head East to challenge the country’s best

The Canada Winter Games may begin on Friday with the Opening Ceremonies but only one of five local athletes on Team B.C. will compete in the first week.

Competition begins Saturday in Halifax although majority of locals compete in Week 2

The Canada Winter Games may begin on Friday with the Opening Ceremonies but only one of five local athletes on Team B.C. will compete in the first week.

Over 2,500 athletes will descend upon Halifax for 15 days of competition in 23 sports.

However, fans tracking local talent will only see Luke Bertolucci in action during the first week of the Games.

Bertolucci, a member of Team B.C.’s male hockey team, begins play on Saturday versus Quebec. That’s followed by games against the host Nova Scotia team on Sunday and Ontario on Monday. Qualification games begin next Tuesday with the medal games scheduled for Feb. 18.

While Bertolucci will be wrapping up the male hockey portion of the Games, a quartet of local athletes will be arriving for Week 2 of competition.

Ella Matteucci, who will captain Team B.C.’s female hockey team, begins play on Feb. 20 against Alberta. The team plays a second game that day against Ontario.

The team returns to action on Feb. 22 against Newfoundland-Labrador and faces Saskatchewan on Feb. 23.

Placement games are on Feb. 24 and 25, and the medal games are set for Feb. 26.

That should be a busy day for local viewers.

Rebecca Reid and Geoffrey Richards will be wrapping up the cross country ski events with the relay races.

The duo begins competition on Feb. 21 with the men’s 10km and women’s 7.5km classic races. The sprint races will be held on Feb. 22 and the 15km and 10km classic races on Feb. 23.

At the same ski resort, Ski Martock, Warfield’s Tommy Pitman is scheduled to compete for Team B.C. in the snowboardcross event.

Although Pitman arrives with the rest of the boarders on Feb. 19, he won’t slide into the start gate until seven days after landing in Halifax.

“It’s not bad,” he said. “It gives us more time for training.”

The 2011 Canada Winter Games wrap up on Feb. 27 with the Closing Ceremonies.