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Port Alberni's Special Olympic skaters head to BC Winter Games

Alberni Valley Times - 2/18/2020

Four skaters from Port Alberni will head to Fort St. John to compete in the BC Winter Games this month. They will compete in the Special Olympics category.

Kari Trott, Matt Macdonald and brothers Alex and Lucas Bell will travel with adult volunteer Mike Riddalls to the Games, taking place Feb. 21–23.

"They've all worked really hard," coach Jean Leshures said. "Because of the work that they've put in the improvement is starting to show."

All the skaters competed at the Vancouver Island Region Championships on Feb. 7 at the Alberni Valley Multiplex, earning medals in their respective divisions. They all performed their two-minute routines, which gave them an opportunity to do so in front of judges and under pressure.

"Because the Games are creeping up so quickly it was wonderful that we could see the programs today," Leshures said at the rink. "It gives us time to pound away at something that maybe isn't quite right."

There was a friendly competition between teammates Alex Bell and Matt Macdonald, who both have sit-spins in their routines, as to who could get lower in their spin.

There were 33 Mount Arrowsmith skaters in total competing, and five from Special Olympics at the regionals.

Port Alberni's skating club is the third largest on Vancouver Island, but has a small group when it comes to Special Olympics.

"In our Special Olympic program we only have five skaters," she said. Jamie Amos also competed at the regional championships for Special Olympics but is no longer eligible for BC Games competition because of his age, Leshures explained.

"We always welcome more. If anyone would like to give it a try, talk to someone in our club."

This will be the first BC Winter Games for Alex Bell. Trott, Macdonald and Lucas Bell, Alex's brother, have all attended Games before, Leshures said.

Other athletes from Zone 6 (Vancouver Island-Central Coast) who are also competing in the Games include Koen LeFevre from Ucluelet (skiing-alpine), Madelaine Galik, Sarah Roberts and cross-country skiing coach Marika Galik of Courtenay and Cumberland, Eric Kittmer from Coombs (biathlon) and Bryn Woloshyn of Royston (curling).

Special Olympics will hold a "Bowl with the Bulldogs" fundraiser at Rainbow Lanes on Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 6:30 p.m. Many of the bowlers, who are heading to the national championships later in February, have committed to raising funds for Special Olympics, spokesperson Anne Evans said.

"This is a very popular event as our athletes are very dedicated Bulldogs' fans and attend most games. It's so fun to watch the interaction with their favourite players. We have prizes for athletes raising the most funds."


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