It's race weekend for some fortunate Prince George athletes.
For 10 competitors with Special Olympics B.C. Prince George, it's time to put a season of hard work to the test in the snowshoe and cross-country skiing competition this weekend at the inaugural Special Olympics B.C. Snow Sports Festival in Kelowna.
Wilma VanHage, coach of the five snowshoers, said it's an adventure for the selected athletes and allows them to end the year with a competition.
"They love going out," said VanHage. "It's a weekend where they can get on the bus and go and have some fun."
The idea for the snow festival came up because the only athletes who would've competed in 2013 were the ones who were selected for the just completed world games in Korea. Special Olympics works their athletic competition in a four-year cycle so the next regional event won't happen until 2014, the next provincial championship in 2015 and the next national competition in 2016. Prince George didn't have any athletes qualify for the world games in Korea. Any athletes who didn't go to the world games would've gone a full year without competing in their sport so the festival gives them a chance to prepare for the regional event next year.
"It's good because all the athletes can get together at the end of the season and it's a social thing as well, for the coaches as well because we're going down and comparing notes and learning from each other," said VanHage.
The Prince George snowshoers selected to travel to Kelowna for the Friday to Sunday games are: Michael Harris, Tegan Raines, Adrian Rosen, Stephanie Tremblay and Marinka VanHage. The cross-country skiers making the trip from Prince George include Chantal Chan, Barbie Conway, Kelly Hein, Danny Lafreniere and Brian Whitfield. The skiing coach is Calvin Dyck.
Raines said she's looking forward to spending the weekend in Kelowna.
"You're around friends so it's a fun time," said Raines.
The 27-year-old said she likes to participate in many sports but she draws the line at cross-country skiing.
"Cross country is tricky but the other sport, downhill, that's simple," said Raines.
The Special Olympic regional qualifiers are next winter with successful athletes earning a place in the 2015 SOBC Winter Games in Kamloops.