In a night that felt more like a closing ceremony party than an opening ceremony celebration, Gov. Gen. Julie Payette officially opened the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer. In a sea of provincial colours, over 3600 athletes, coaches and managers paraded through the crowd to start what could be their own Paralympic and Olympic journeys.
“It’s very exciting representing Team BC,” said Sherilyn Chung (Coquitlam) of short track speed skating. “To know you are part of something bigger than yourself is amazing. It has been a long journey to get here and I don’t think it has fully sunk in yet. Even now talking about this, oh my goodness, this is huge.”
Olympians Bruny Surin and Cindy Klassen waved the Canada Games flag into the Centrium stadium in a horse drawn carriage.
More than 500 participants and performers showed off their talents to the nation in the thrilling opening show that lasted just over two hours.
““This is so cool,” said Zara Herbert (Vancouver) of artistic swimming. “There’s a great energy here in the room. We actually have to go to Calgary and compete so we’re lucky that we got to come here for this. We actually have an Olympic style competition and a National Championship in one Games. I tried out for the team in 2015 and didn’t make it. I’m so glad I stuck it out.”
A virtual cavalcade of volunteers danced, clapped and high-fived athletes in the holding area before the Ceremony even started. Their energy created an excitement that palpated throughout the entire contingent.
The evening culminated with Canadian country singer Brett Kissel performing a trio of songs that got the athletes dancing to on their feet.
Competition begins Saturday with a possibility of medals in long track speed skating.