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Bow Valley athletes win 33 medals at Alberta Winter Games

Bow Valley athletes won 26 individual medals and seven relay and team medals in Grande Prairie

GRANDE PRAIRIE – The winter warriors of the Bow Valley were once again a force to be reckoned with at the Alberta Winter Games (AWG).

Forty-nine athletes from Banff, Canmore and the MD of Bighorn qualified for the 2024 AWG in Grande Prairie (Feb. 16-19) in seven sports. They won 26 individual medals (11 gold, six silver, nine bronze) and seven relay and team medals (two gold, four silver, one bronze).

Zone 2, featuring Bow Valley athletes, won 85 medals total (28 gold, 25 silver, 32 bronze) and was third place overall in medal standings.

Zone 3 (Calgary) was first with 149 medals and Zone 6 (Edmonton) was second with 89.

Local athletes won four more medals than at the last AWG in 2020.

One of the top performers was promising speed skater Lily Fochuk, who couldn’t be kept off the podium, winning a medal in every race she was in. 

As the Speed Skating World Championships were happening in Calgary at the same time as the AWG, the fast 15-year-old from Banff was channelling her inner Jutta Leerdam, skating to the podium like the Dutch champion with gold in the 14-15 girls’ 3,000m relay, silver in the 500m, and bronze medals in the 1,500m and 1,000m. 

“I feel like the girls that I was racing against kept it really unique and interesting. They pushed me and also gave me some good times,” said Fochuk, whose 48.5 seconds in the 500m was a personal best (PB).

“I felt like even if I didn't get a PB in the other ones I was in, I still felt like I was skating some of my best.”

Gavin Zoffmann and Owen Kay of Canmore were on the bronze medal-winning 14-15 boys’ 3,000m relay speed skating team.

Kay also cracked the top-10 three times, with a seventh place in the 500m, ninth place in the 1,500m and eighth in the 1,000m. Zoffmann was seventh in the 1,000m. 

Poppy Wheelhouse, Lily Debaie and Madison Fox were on the fourth-place 12-13 girls 2,000m relay team.

Local biathletes made sure to show that their developing skills at the Canmore Nordic Centre were put to good use in Grande Prairie. The local sharpshooters won the bulk of the medals among Bow Valley athletes with 22 (10 gold, five silver, seven bronze).

In U17 boys, Toben Luders won gold in sprint and a pair of bronze medals in the mass start and pursuit races.

In U15 boys, Oliver Robins had a golden hat trick, winning the sprint, mass start and pursuit races. Lachlan Macbeth won silver in sprint and bronze in pursuit.

In the U13 boys, Tighe Preece had three fourth place finishes.

In U15 girls, Charlie Pittard won two gold medals in pursuit and sprint and silver in mass start, Elizabeth Kaine won silver in sprint and bronze in pursuit, and Yvaine Preece won gold in mass start, silver in pursuit and bronze in sprint.

For U17 girls, Sonija Rapcewicz won gold medals in the mass start and pursuit and bronze in sprint, while Rhea Verhulst won gold in sprint, silver in mass start and bronze in pursuit.

In alpine skiing, Madeline Wickins won gold in the girls' giant slalom (GS) and took fifth place in slalom.

Tyler McKay of Banff finished seventh in boys' slalom and eighth in GS. Matthew Ellis of Exshaw was 10th in GS.

Wickins, a 13-year-old Banff Alpine Racer, skied like the club’s alum Jeff Read, who recently won silver at the World Cup, when she glided to victory.

It was also her first time stepping onto the top spot of the box.“I think it was the best race I've ever performed in because it was the first gold that I've ever gotten and I was pretty happy about that,” said Wickins.

As one can imagine, the slopes in the mountainous Banff compared to the flats of Grande Prairie are much different, so to adjust, Wickins and the other local athletes were jumping out of the gate and double-polling to gain speed quicker.

In cross-country skiing, local athletes found success in the relays, combining for five team medals (one gold, three silver, one bronze).

In some cases, Bow Valley athletes were on multiple teams in the same category, such as in the U14 girls relay, with Gabi Grandi, Brynn Wadsworth and Vera Heal taking silver, while Fiona Feherty and Emma Lemyre were on the bronze-medal winning team. Dahlia Simson and Annika Jenkins were on the fifth place finishing team.

In the U14 boys relay, Caden Wallis and Jasper Backman Sorochan won silver, and Elliott Chan, Kaden Driedzic, and Michel Tessier finished fifth.

In the U16 girls relay, Isla Lynch and Gabrielle Tessier won silver. Tessier also took second place in the sprint.

Winning gold in the U16 boys relay were Olin Baergen, Larix Hallett and Grant Simson.

Individually, Baergen and Simson also took home silver and bronze in the freestyle, respectively.

In the U12 girls' sprint, Dahlia Simson won silver.

In U14 girls' freestyle and sprint, Wadsworth took home a pair of silver medals. Vera Heal was third in sprint.

In figure skating, Hazel Schmaltz of Banff finished 11th in the juvenile women’s freeskate.

In girls' volleyball, Makyra Hielema of Canmore and her Zone 2 teammates finished seventh.

In artistic gymnastics, Canmore Illusion athletes Kanako Okuma and Iris Porter won silver with their Zone 2 team in the J07 All Around. Porter also finished fifth in vault.

Full AWG results here.

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

An award-winning reporter, Jordan Small has covered sports, the arts, and news in the Bow Valley since 2014. Originally from Barrie, Ont., Jordan has lived in Alberta since 2013.
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