UNBC is getting into the spirit of the Canada Winter Games by offering student athletes a significant break on their tuition.
Athletes - and officials - who qualify for the Games will get a tuition credit worth $2,500 over the course of two semesters, UNBC president Daniel Weeks said Wednesday during a media event Wednesday.
Weeks said the idea is to give athletes who will compete in the Games, set for Feb. 13 to March 1, 2015, an incentive to return to Prince George to pursue their studies.
"We believe this program offers a significant potential for us to build on the great experience these athletes and their families will enjoy when they come to Prince George," Weeks said.
The move won accolades from 2015 CWG chief executive officer Stuart Ballantyne.
"This is an amazing, amazing program," he said and added it's possibly the first time a university has engaged with the CWG at such a level.
"It's going to be wonderful for the Games and wonderful for the university but also great for the Canada Winter Games moving forward," Ballantyne said.
About 2,400 athletes from over 800 communities will compete in 19 sports over18 days.
Even without the tuition credit, Michelle "Tuppy" Hoehn, who competed for Canada in biathlon at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, said Canada Winter Games athletes will soon realize how attractive Prince George is for student athletes.
"We're lucky to have such a great university in a relatively small town," said Hoehn, who graduated from UNBC in 2003. "Prince George is a city but it feels like a small town. We have all the amenities that a big city offers plus amazing sport venues and sport resources in our community."
Those include the Charles Jago Northern Sport Centre at the UNBC campus and the Otway Nordic Centre, which has gone through major upgrades in the lead up to the Games and is capable of hosting elite-level nordic skiing and biathlon events.
"Those athletes can come here and go to university and get an education and still be able to pursue their athletic goals and still do that successfully because everything is so close together," Hoehn said.
"They don't have to spend their whole time driving back and forth to training venues. And we're pretty centrally located to getting to other places with the airport."
Participants must sign up in person or online with a UNBC recruiter before March 21, 2015 to qualify. The incentive can be claimed when a student enrols and can be used for students beginning their studies between 2015 and 2019.
Current undergraduate tuition at UNBC is $4,912 for an entire academic year.