Advertisement

Special Olympics kick off in Calgary amid temperamental conditions

Special Olympics kick off in Calgary amid temperamental conditions
Special Olympics kick off in Calgary amid temperamental conditions

Click here to view the video

It’s a rare sight in Calgary—the ‘88 Olympic cauldron, perched high atop the Calgary Tower, alight with real flame.

But certain occasions demand the pageantry, and so that’s just what was seen atop the tower Tuesday night.

The 2024 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games have kicked off in Stampede City.

More than 800 athletes are competing in eight different sports this week, with three of those sports—alpine and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing—taking place outdoors.

And, despite some tricky weather conditions, organizers are expecting to deliver the “best ever games” from February 27 to March 2.

“We’re Canadian, right? We’re all about warm and cold weather, especially in the winter months and especially here in Calgary,” said Chris Dornan, communications manager for the Games.

Connor O'Donovan: Cross Country Skiers compete at the Confederation Park Golf Course.
Connor O'Donovan: Cross Country Skiers compete at the Confederation Park Golf Course.

Cross Country Skiers compete at the Confederation Park Golf Course. (Connor O’Donovan/The Weather Network)

SEE ALSO: Check out this 'weather-activated' art installation in downtown Calgary

Wind chill values near minus 30 cancelled outdoor training Tuesday. Wednesday, though, brought back temperatures above zero, while double digits and the potential for rain were forecasted for Thursday, with a snowstorm and a return to frigid conditions on deck for Friday and the weekend.

Meanwhile, weeks of above-average temperatures and below-average snowfall have made maintaining courses for snowshoe and cross-country ski events a challenge.

Dornan, though, says the elements have been no match for the determination of the athletes and no match for the Olympic volunteer spirit, which he traces back to the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary.

“We had volunteers out in full force preserving the snow at the Maple Ridge Golf Course (snowshoeing) and the Confederation Park Golf Course (cross-country skiing), shovelling it into shaded areas and keeping it out of the sun,” he said, adding the Games’ venue partners opened their doors to allow athletes to train inside Tuesday.

“So that volunteer spirit is what’s gotten us through to today, and we’ve got tracks that are fully repaired and ready for the nation’s best.”

Connor O’Donovan | Team Ontario curler Meghan O’Donovan prepares to throw a stone at North Hill Curling Club in Calgary.
Connor O’Donovan | Team Ontario curler Meghan O’Donovan prepares to throw a stone at North Hill Curling Club in Calgary.

Team Ontario curler Meghan O’Donovan prepares to throw a stone at North Hill Curling Club in Calgary. (Connor O’Donovan/The Weather Network)

DON'T MISS: Everything you need to know for April's spectacular and rare solar eclipse

Dornan added that many of the semi-annual Winter event’s volunteers also help out at the Canmore Nordic Centre, where they’ve garnered years of snow preservation expertise.

Sports include snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, alpine skiing, bowling, figure skating, floor hockey, speed skating, and curling.

“We’re on a mission to deliver two things: one, to deliver the best ever gaming experience for these athletes,” Dornan said.

“But the other part of the mission is to make Calgary, Alberta, and Canada a more inclusive place. We’ve been working in school groups, the community, and with corporations across Alberta to try and transform their way of doing things to be more inclusive."

Want to maximize your winter experience? The Weather Network offers a myriad of ideas to keep you and your family engaged throughout the entire season!"

(Header image courtesy of Connor O'Donovan/The Weather Network)