In just over a year, North Battleford will host the province's Winter Games and the co-chairs are promising it will be the best Games Saskatchewan has ever seen.
The 2018 Saskatchewan Winter Games celebrate the best athletes in the province and occur every four years, much like the Olympics. North Battleford won the bid to host the Games last February and Co-chairs David Schell and Rob Rongve have been working feverishly ever since.
Schell is excited about inaugurating a few new sports and Rongve made a confident claim about what the Battlefords and area can expect.
“We are very confident this will be the best Games ever,” Rongve said. “This will be a great opportunity to show off the venues we have here. Even the provincial sport people are telling us we have the best venues. We are going to celebrate the best athletes, the best community, the best volunteers and definitely the best venues.”
Aside from venues, the inauguration of a few new sports is fueling Rongve’s confidence in the Games. The co-chairs are especially excited about Snowboard and Ski Cross because they are fan favorites. Para Nordic Skiing will also be a part of the Games for the first time.
Now Rongve and Schell are focusing on raising the estimated $1.3 million the Games have been budgeted at. The money has to be raised locally and though it seems like a tall order, Rongve said the Games should bring in an estimated $5 million dollars to the local economy.
The first big event to spread awareness of the Games will be on Feb. 20 at the CUplex. Rongve described it as a “huge day of celebration” to let everyone know the Games will be here almost a year to the day.
“The last thing we want is for people in the community, or surrounding communities, to not know the Games are coming because everyone should be aware at least,” Rongve said.
The co-chairs also said the success of the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling recently held in North Battleford, is giving them a lot of confidence.
“This is going to be one of the biggest events that will ever happen here,” Rongve said. “We just need to get the word out. We are getting people applying for volunteer positions every day, but there is only so much that needs to be done right now. That is part of the challenge as well.”
Schell and Rongve also attributed the soon to be “best Games of all time” to the amazing committee members involved with planning.
“The committee that we’ve put together is hands down the best committee any community could come up with,” Schell said. “When you have 20 people that are doers, it is bound to be a success.”
The committee is now looking at building a statue or monument to immortalize the Games. Schell nor Rongve know what it will look like just yet, but promise it will be an artistic way to pay tribute to everyone involved from sponsors to the volunteers. 1,500 volunteers will be needed for the Winter Games, but Rongve said the push to recruit won’t be for another 10 months.
The games officially start on Feb. 18, 2018 and will run until Feb. 24.