It was -41C with the wind Tuesday afternoon, and bells rang while crowds cheered as the MNP Canada Games Torch Relay made its way through Sylvan Lake.
Nine torch bearers walked the Canada Games torch through Sylvan Lake and along the lakeshore, despite the blistering cold weather.
All nine of the torchbearers, Colin Fraser, Melissa Hollingsworth, Tegan Readman, Vinnie Taylor, Carlen Chorney, Devin Dreeshen, Sean McIntyre, Christine Moore and Gord Bamford, were chosen from hundreds of nominations.
The turnout was smaller than originally expected, but torchbearer Tegan Readman, a former freestyle skier and current coach, says that is too be expected.
“There weren’t many people out, cheering and everything, but that’s all right. It’s really cold out there,” Readman said after the circuit was completed.
For Readman, it is a special honour to carry the torch for the Games, as he remembers competing in the Canada Winter Games last year.
“It means a lot, knowing I competed in these Games last year… it’s an exciting honour,” said Readman.
Three-time Olympian Melissa Hollingsworth said the experience was chilly, but worthwhile.
In particular, she was impressed with the community and all the effort that was put into the torch relay.
“I was really impressed with the community … the spirit of the whole thing, with the cold weather it didn’t stop the smiles,” Holligsworth said.
Like Readman, Holligsworth said it was a huge honour to be selected as a torchbearer.
It was a dream of hers to be an Olympic athlete, one that she would fantasize about one the long trips to Calgary from Leslieville to practise.
“When I first started the skeleton I was 15, and too young to drive myself… Every flare stack that I would see I would almost start dreaming about, wow, that could be the Olympic Cauldron,” Hollingsworth said.
While carrying the torch, Hollingsworth said she thought about those daydreams, and “how neat” it was to carry the torch for the Canada Winter Games.
Readman says his advice for all the athletes is to have fun during the games. He says that is the best way to approach competitions like this.
Hollingsworth agreed, saying fun is the best option for large scale competitions.
The torch relay for the 2019 Canada Winter Games is the first one to take place since the Game’s inception in 1967, that has travelled from coast to coast.
The relay started in the fall and has been to nearly 50 communities across the country.
The stop in Sylvan Lake is the second last stop for the relay, and the Canada Winter Games will begin on Feb. 15 in Red Deer.