As seen in the July 15th Online Edition of the Brandon Sun
Written by: Charles Tweed
Virden, MB – Virden will host the 2018 Power Smart Manitoba Winter Games.
Carly Hayward, co-chair of the Games, said she’s known that Virden’s bid to host won in April and it’s been difficult to keep it under wraps.
“I’m super pumped,” said Hayward, who is also helping Team Westman prepare for the Summer Games which are being hosted by Steinbach in August.
“I’ve been handing out jackets and t-shirts to our team for the Steinbach Games and they put them on and you can see the excitement in their eyes.”
The Games are expected to draw approximately 2,000 of the top athletes and coaches from across the province to compete in more than a dozen winter disciplines.
Virden hosted the 2000 Summer Games, when Hayward suited up as a competitor in the discus, shot put and ball throw events.
“I remember a lot about those Games, especially that the dorm I stayed in I could see my bedroom window from,” Hayward said. “It was really hot and they had to bring in truckloads of water for us, but it was a great experience.”
Virden plans on creating a makeshift “Athletes’ Village” in the local elementary, junior and high schools. Hayward said the organizing committee will set up dorm rooms throughout the schools.
According to Sport Manitoba’s website, the sports that will be in Virden include: archery, badminton, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, gymnastics, hockey, ringette, short-track speed skating, table tennis and wrestling.
During the initial phase of the two-part bid process, Hayward said Virden proved the community had the facilities to host the Games.
Gymnastics, however, was the one area where Virden fell down.
“We don’t have a facility big enough,” Hayward said. “Brandon was the closest place that met the standards so we’ll have the athletes compete in the Brandon Eagles Gymnastics Centre.”
Ringette and girls’ hockey will take place in Reston, while boys’ hockey will be at Tundra Oil and Gas Place in Virden.
“We wanted to showcase the new rink,” Hayward said about Tundra Oil and Gas Place, which was opened five years ago.
The first province-wide Games were held in Winnipeg in December 1974 as part of the city’s centennial celebration. Neepawa hosted the Summer Games two years later while the 1978 Winter Games were in Dauphin.
After an eight-year hiatus Flin Flon hosted the 1986 Winter Games. Since then, the games have been hosted biennially at different locations throughout the province.
As for Westman hosts, Minnedosa and Neepawa hosted the Summer Games in 1992, Virden in 2000 and Dauphin in 2004.
Since then, no Westman community has hosted the Games.
“It’s been too long since the Games have been in Westman,” Hayward said. “We needed to bring them back to our area.”
The Games start with regional competitions with top finishers selected to one of five teams — East, North, Winnipeg, Central, West — consisting of between 200 to 300 athletes.
The competition will help identify Manitoba athletes who have the potential to advance to higher levels, such as the Western Canada Games or Olympic Games.
Hayward said for many of the athletes it will be the first taste of a multi-sport event competition.
“We want to make sure the athletes have the experience of their lives and complete to their fullest,” Hayward said.