Canada Games torch returns to P.G on Saturday

Was that really four years ago Prince George hosted the Canada Winter Games?

We've nearly reached the four-year mark since the 2015 Games, and the heat of the flame that passes through our city on Saturday with the arrival of the 2019 MNP Canada Winter Games torch relay will serve as a reminder.

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The first-ever coast-to-coast torch relay is already underway and it will eventually lead to Red Deer, Alta., site of the 2019 Winter Games Feb. 15-March 3.

For figure skater Justin Hampole, a bronze medalist at the 2015 Games in Prince George, that memory is still fresh in his mind and it stands as one of the highlights of his career as a member of the Northern B.C. Centre for Skating.

Hampole, who just returned from the Skate Canada Challenge in Edmonton (see story on page 9), is among 12 torchbearers selected for the Prince George relay. He will carry the flame for the final segment which leads back to the Civic Centre.

"I just loved the Canada Games, it was one of the best experiences of my life so far and I'm just super-excited to be part of the next Games, even if it's just a tiny role," said the 17-year-old Hampole, who was just 13 when he soared to the medal podium despite the pressure of competing in front of a hometown audience at Kin 1, then known as Lakewood Dental Arena.

"It was almost a surreal experience. It was just insane to be in front of my home crowd and skate the way I did. I just have really fond memories attached to Canada Games and I'm excited to make a few more on Saturday."

The whole city is invited to the celebration at the Prince George Conference and Civic Centre at Canada Games Plaza. The torch relay starts at 11 a.m. and runs through downtown, returning to the Civic Centre at 1:30 p.m.

The relay started Oct. 4 in Ottawa with the lighting of the Roly McLennan torch from the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill. From there it went to Halifax. Montreal, St. Catharines, London, Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, and Victoria. It was in Kelowna last weekend, the last stop before it arrives in Prince George on Saturday.

Alyson Gourley-Cramer will start the relay Saturday at 11, followed in order by Joel McKay, Prince George-Mackenzie MLA Mike Morris, Catherine Hansen-McCarthy, Darlene McIntosh, Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty, Ted Clarke, Mayor Lyn Hall, Mandi Graham, Tony Cable, Myrna Cable and Hampole.

From Prince George the torch will be flown to Newfoundland for an unscheduled stop in St. John's at the request of Newfoundland and Labrador premier Dwight Ball for one more tour until it hits Alberta, Jan. 5.

Thirteen Alberta cities are on the torch relay route to Red Deer. It total, 48 communities will see the torch procession.

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