After more than a year of training, preparation and fund-raising, eight speed skaters from the Kitchener-Waterloo Sertoma Speed Skating Club and five figure skaters from the Kitchener-Waterloo Skating Club departed from RIM Park on January 8 to compete in the 7th International Children’s Winter Games (ICG) in Innsbruck, Austria. Joined by Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky, all the parents, family and friends wished the Waterloo delegation a safe trip and the best of luck in the games.
The ICG offers children, from all over the world, the opportunity to compete at different types of sports, develop friendships and gain first-hand respect and understanding to help to secure world peace and follow the Olympic ideals. Our 13 athletes (ages 12 to 15) were chosen, not just for athletic performance, but also because they are great ambassadors for our community and will do a wonderful job representing our region and country to the other 54 city delegations from more than 20 countries from all over the world.
Part of the experience of traveling to the ICG events through the Kitchener-Waterloo ICG Organization is giving these young people a chance to spread their wings without the oversight of their parents. This helps the athletes discover who they are as they experience life and culture in another part of the world. Our delegation arrived in Innsbruck on January 9 and spent the first three days of the adventure exploring sights that the athletes had selected including Swarovski Crystal World, The Nordekettenbahn Cable Car, The Alpine Zoo and Schloss Ambras.
When it was time for the games to begin, all of the athletes were part of the elaborate opening ceremonies including musical and artistic performances. Our contingent entered centre stage sporting our matching Canada apparel under the Waterloo flag. During the games, all the athletes were amazed at the comradery and sportsmanship of athletes from the other cities and countries. There was plenty of time for the athletes to socialize with each other between their competitions, at the opening and closing ceremonies and at Homebase where they could engage in activities such as rock climbing, skateboarding, video games, and more. Every single athlete that represented Waterloo Region and Canada made us proud with the way they carried themselves and interacted with other athletes and the local people of Innsbruck.
The Waterloo delegation came away with two medals; gold in Ice Dance by Bridget LeDonne and Jakub Smal, and silver in the Mixed Team Sprint by Dylan Leidl. We are extremely proud of the amazing performances of all of our athletes, each of whom outperformed their own expectations. All the delegation members were happy to be home when the bus finally arrived back at RIM Park but none of them will ever forget the experience they had on this incredible adventure.
Story submitted by K-W International Children’s Games Organization