THE 2023 SASKATCHEWAN WINTER GAMES IN REGINA COME TO A CLOSE
REGINA, SK (February 25, 2023): With the extinguishing of the flame at Saturday’s Closing Ceremony, the 2023 Saskatchewan Winter Games in Regina, presented by Teine Energy, have officially come to an end.
It was an action-packed and historic week of sport, culture, and community that saw the debut of two new sports to the Saskatchewan Games program: Futsal and Mixed Doubles Curling. Spectacular performances were on display at all sixteen sport competitions, including Weightlifting, where numerous provincial records were broken on all three days of competition, and Gymnastics, where Naomi Johns of La Ronge earned Team North’s first-ever gold medals in the sport. At the close of the Games, Team Saskatoon stood on top of the medal standings, with all nine Districts representing extremely well on and off the field of play.
Beyond just sport, though, it was the camaraderie, community, and memories made as part of the entire multi-sport event experience that stood out most when talking to participants and volunteers about their time at the Games.
“It’s been incredible to hear from parents that the experience has been life-changing for some of these athletes that have attended. It hasn’t been about the sport -- it’s been about the experience. These experiences are so important for the athletes, and with so much sacrifice over the last three years throughout the pandemic, it’s been so wonderful to see them be able to come back and be able to make these memories at the Games,” said Tara-Leigh Heslip, Team South East Chef de Mission.
Team Regina Wrestler Kloey Klymchuk summarized the Saskatchewan Games’ one-team atmosphere on Saturday. “We win together, we lose together, but more importantly, we celebrate together.”
Families came from far and wide all week long to support their athletes competing at the Games. In some instances, they even joined them on the field. Lakeland’s Artistic Swimming team was composed of one athlete: 11-year-old Pillar Galbraith of Prince Albert, who took up the sport just one year ago. Her older sister Phoenix Galbraith, 17, had never competed in Artistic Swimming herself -- but upon learning of her sister’s new passion, sought out coach training, obtained the necessary certifications, and joined Pillar in Regina as Team Lakeland’s Artistic Swimming coach.
“One of my best memories was the Opening Ceremony when we all marched in -- it felt like the Olympics. It was such a fun experience to see all the other athletes there and watch other people do their sports,” said Pillar.
Added Phoenix, “Staying in the residence at the University of Regina was so fun with all the different people, and all the different activities they had for us -- board games, movies, escape rooms -- we loved all of it. There were even therapy dogs that you could pet.”
Inclusion was a guiding value for the 2023 Saskatchewan Winter Games in Regina. Para sport, able-bodied, and Special Olympics events all featured at the Games alongside one another. For the first time, the Saskatchewan Games and the Saskatchewan Weightlifting Association partnered with Autism Services of Saskatoon to feature a demonstration event within the competition for athletes with autism. The three-day Culture Festival, presented by CGI, showcased performances by numerous cultural groups and performers from across Saskatchewan, as well as a panel presentation on Truth and Reconciliation in Sport that featured Indigenous sport leaders including Sydney Daniels, Scott Daniels, Amy Shipley, and Jackson Serna.
The spirit of inclusion extended to the volunteer Host Organizing Committee, whose leadership team and subcommittee lead structure was designed to foster female leadership development among its members, composed of dozens of female leaders and emerging professionals in the City of Regina and area. The road to the Games was a long journey for the Committee, whose tireless work in planning, organizing and staging the Games began in 2020 and weathered a pandemic-related postponement of the weeklong multi-sport event, originally scheduled for February 2022.
“This Games has been about competition. This Games has been about sport development. But more importantly, this Games is about leadership -- this is our succession plan for the province, because these are the leaders we’re creating,” said Valerie Sluth, 2023 Saskatchewan Winter Games Chairperson and CEO of Praxis Consulting, herself a Saskatchewan Games alumni.
The Committee was further supported by the invaluable contributions of the hundreds of community volunteers who signed up to assist the Games in every area, from running the Athletes’ Village polyclinic, to managing admissions at each venue, to assisting with athlete feeding and entertainment, and so much more.
Saturday’s Closing Ceremony, presented by SaskTel, was a fitting send-off to an unforgettable week. During the Ceremony, teams were presented with three awards: The Games Flag, a prize given to the District who earns the most flag points during the Games; the Joe Griffith Trophy, which rewards overall District improvement from Games to Games; and the new SaskMilk District Spirit award, presented to the District Team whose athletes, coaches, managers, and mission staff best combine competitive performance, good sportsmanship, passion, and a spirit of fair play, cooperation, and friendship.
Taking home the Games Flag was Team Saskatoon. The Joe Griffiths Award was presented to Team South West, while Team North received the SaskMilk District Spirit Award.
The Games will leave behind numerous lasting legacies in Regina and area. In addition to an estimated economic impact of $3M, significant volunteer engagement, and leadership development, the Saskatchewan Games Council Sport Legacy Grant provides $250,000 in matching funding that has been distributed across many of the participating sport organizations and local clubs.
The next edition of the Saskatchewan Games will take place in Lloydminster from July 21-27, 2024.
CONTENT: Photos and video highlights of the Games are available for download at this link. Photographers’ names are listed on each subfolder for photographer credit. Thank you to our volunteer photographers for helping us to capture all the moments and memories.
LIVESTREAM: The 2023 Saskatchewan Winter Games is proud to partner with HomeTeam Live to make every sport at the Games available live and on demand at app.hometeamlive.com.
The 2023 Saskatchewan Winter Games on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
The Saskatchewan Games Council on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
About the Saskatchewan Games: First established in 1972, the purpose of the Saskatchewan Games is to provide an opportunity for the province’s developing athletes, coaches and officials to participate in an exciting multi-sport event in preparation for a higher level of competition. Countless Saskatchewan Games alumni have advanced to competition at the national level and beyond, with Olympians such as Sandra Schmirler, Colleen Sostorics, Emily Clarke, and Lucas Makowsky counting the Saskatchewan Winter Games as a key step in their journey to the highest levels of sport. The Saskatchewan Games also leave behind valuable legacies that benefit each host community for years to come. To learn more, visit http://www.saskgames.ca.
Saskatchewan Games Council
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