NORTH BATTLEFORD, SK (February 25, 2018): After an exciting 7 days of sport and culture that showcased the best young athletes in the province, the 2018 Saskatchewan Winter Games have officially come to an end. From February 18th-24th, North Battleford hosted 1,800 athletes, coaches, managers, officials and mission staff from over 300 communities. Over 1,200 volunteers from the Battlefords and surrounding area donated their time and energies towards ensuring that the province’s largest biennial multisport games impressed both the participants as well as the thousands of spectators and family members of athletes who took in the Games.
Games Manager Nicole Clow was left smiling after Saturday's Closing Ceremony concluded. “We feel that we’ve left a big legacy in the community, both in sport facility and equipment upgrades and in civic pride. It was just a ton of fun -- the athletes were happy, and that’s the biggest goal.”
The weeklong event saw 1,356 athletes compete in 17 different winter sports, with youth from the ages of 11-17 making up the majority of participants. For most, this was their first exposure to the exciting and fast-paced atmosphere of a multisport games. For many, it will serve as a stepping stone to a higher level of competition. “This week these athletes have participated in something bigger than their sport,” said Chantelle Patrick, Chairperson of the Saskatchewan Games Council. “They represented their entire District team, and they represented them well. It’s our hope that these Games have challenged, motivated and inspired these athletes towards a successful future in sport and in life.”
The timing of the Saskatchewan Winter Games coincided with the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang -- an inspiring look ahead for the young athletes competing in North Battleford. Three of Team Canada’s 2018 Olympians got their start at the Saskatchewan Games: White City’s Marsha Hudey, Speed Skating; Regina’s Kali Christ, Speed Skating; and Saskatoon’s Emily Clark, Olympic silver medalist in Hockey. A list of Saskatchewan Games alumni who have competed at the Olympics dating back to the 1988 Olympic Games can be found here.
For the first time in Saskatchewan Games history, a parasport was included in the sport calendar. Prince Albert’s Krystle Shewchuk and Cherish Nontell of Christopher Lake competed in Para-Nordic Skiing and were coached by ten-time Paralympic medalist Colette Bourgonje.
While countless personal best results and performances were achieved by individual athletes at the Games, the Saskatchewan Games sees nine different sport Districts compete against each other for two major honours: the Games Flag and the Joe Griffith Trophy. The Games Flag is an impressive award given to the District who achieves the best overall performance at the Games by accumulating the most flag points. The amount of flag points a District team collects is determined by the scoring system for each sport; teams and individuals are awarded points based on their final placings. In a repeat of its success from the 2016 Saskatchewan Summer Games in Estevan, Team Saskatoon took home the title with a total of 108 medals and 184 flag points.
The Joe Griffiths Award is given to the District team with the highest percentage improvement in final standings from the previous Saskatchewan Games. Comparison is made on a summer-to-summer and winter-to-winter basis. With an improvement of 15 flag points from the 2014 Winter Games in Prince Albert, Team South East was awarded the trophy. Team South East boasts athletes from Weyburn, Estevan, Balgonie and surrounding areas.
Team North, which is comprised of athletes, coaches and staff from the northern region of the province, saw improved success at the Games, earning 17 medals and 41 flag points -- its highest flag point tally at a Winter Games since the province was divided into nine sport and recreation Districts in 2006. Its medal count is made even more impressive due to the District’s small team size, with just 50 athletes competing in six of the 17 sports at these Games. Although Team North posted an improvement of 16 flag points from the 2014 Games, to be eligible for the Joe Griffiths Award, Districts must field teams in at least 75% of the sports being contested.
The other District teams participating in the Games were Team Prairie Central, with athletes from Warman, Humboldt, and Fort Qu'Appelle area; Team Parkland Valley, with athletes from Yorkton and Melville area; Team South West, with athletes from Swift Current and Moose Jaw area; Team Lakeland, with athletes from Prince Albert and Nipawin area; the hosting Team Rivers West, with athletes from the Battlefords and Lloydminster area; and Team Regina.
In addition to being an exceptional amateur sporting event, the Saskatchewan Games provide a spotlight for the host community’s spectacular volunteer dedication and civic pride. “We owe an enormous thank you to all of our volunteers,” said Games Co-Chair David Schell. “We couldn’t have done any of this without them -- they stepped up in a huge way to showcase our community to the entire province.” Over 1,200 people from the Battlefords and surrounding areas volunteered for the Games. This includes both the volunteers during Games time and the volunteer Host Organizing Committee, who spent the last two years planning the Games.
The 2018 Saskatchewan Winter Games will leave behind a half million dollar legacy of upgraded sporting venues and equipment in the Battlefords, as well as a trained and enthusiastic volunteer corps. “One of the goals of the Saskatchewan Games is to enhance community development through a sport legacy of upgraded equipment, facilities, experienced officials, cultural understanding and appreciation, and a core group of volunteers,” added Patrick. “The Saskatchewan Games Council is very impressed with the legacy left behind in the Battlefords.”
The next edition of the Saskatchewan Games will be in Lloydminster, who will host the 2020 Summer Games. The Saskatchewan Games will celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2022.
Games Services and Communications Lead
Saskatchewan Games Council