Dillon Giancola: Locals persevere at Winter Games


I have never played in any sort of provincial competition, let alone one with the level of competion as was on display at the B.C. Winter Games last weekend. I can’t imagine I would handle it with any form of confidence.

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However, as I dropped in on the different events this weekend, I was impressed with what I saw from our local athletes. Sure, seven medals might not sound like a ton, but it goes beyond that. No matter how each athlete was performing, they were happy to be there, enjoying the experience, and doing their best.

Speed skaters Matthew Mitchell, Emma North, and Cheyanne Key were all expected to medal, yet through two days they had none and the short track events couldn’t have gone any worse. A lesser competitor such as myself would have been very upset and wouldn’t have responded with two gold medals on the third day, but that’s what Mitchell and Key did. North was right behind with two silver medals.

In badminton and figure skating, Fort St. John athletes had rough opening days, but by Saturday were playing extremely well and looked completely fine with how they were doing.

Sophie Stevens fell early during her first skate of the figure skating competition, yet her smile and enthusiasm never wavered, and she responded with a near-personal best long program the following day.

All five badminton players appeared stressed and nervous on the first day of competition. On the second and third days, it was as if someone else had taken over their bodies, both in terms of how well they played, and in terms of body language.

Seeing these athletes persevere through struggle and remain positive was really inspiring, for both myself and everyone watching.

We all tell ourselves that sports aren’t just about winning and losing, but maintaining that belief in real time can be hard. Seeing the athletes enjoy themselves amidst the most pressure they’ve experienced in competition is something I’ll remember for a long time, and will try to carry through in my own life.

Leafs lose to zamboni driver

You’ve no doubt heard the story by now — the Toronto Maple Leafs lost 6-3 to the Carolina Hurricanes on Feb. 22. Carolina had an emergency goalie in net for the final two periods. David Ayres came on to replace Peter Mrazek, having never played an NHL game. It looked like it early, as he allowed goals on his first two shots, letting the Leafs tie the game at 3-3.

From there, Ayres stopped every shot he faced and the Hurricanes won 6-3. The Leafs were completely outplayed and embarrassed. The fact is, the Leafs only had nine shots against Ayres. There was no urgency from the team to try and fire shots at an overwhelmed and nervous goalie playing in the NHL for the first time, while the Hurricanes played as if it was Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Making matters slightly worse is the fact that Ayres is 42, and is the Leafs zamboni driver. However, as an upset fan, I’m not as upset as you’d think. I think it’s hilarious and an amazing story. I still think the Leafs will make the playoffs, where they will then be soundly beaten by the Boston Bruins in the first round for the third year in a row.

Tyson Fury is electric

All signs pointed to Saturday night’s heavyweight boxing rematch between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury being a great bout. However, these fights rarely live up to the hype.

This fight was one of the most entertaining ones I’ve ever watched. Not only did it have two amazing entrances, Fury knocked Wilder down twice, ended the fight in the seventh round , and appeared to lick Wilder’s blood during the fight in a move Brad Marchand could only dream of pulling off.

It was gross and amazing and hilarious all at once. To top if off, he serenaded the entire arena with a karaoke version of The Day the Music Died. It was an all-time sports moment, one that put a smile on my face, and a reminder that boxing still rules. 

Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at sports@ahnfsj.ca

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