A red deer, frozen river and stylized winter star form an image that is set to become part of this city’s sporting history.
The official 2019 Canada Winter Games logo was unveiled on Monday morning and the image provides an unmistakable link to Red Deer.
Also unveiled was the Games schedule, which has boxers, hockey, ringette and table tennis players, freestyle skiers and speed skaters sharing the honour of being the first athletes out of the gate on Feb. 15, 2019.
Over the next 15 days, athletes in 19 sports and 15 different venues will compete at the highest level of national competition.
Helping make sure it all goes off to plan will be hundreds of volunteers led by a 12-member senior leadership team, which was officially introduced to the public on Tuesday.
Games chairwoman Lyn Radford said the leadership team is stocked with experienced community players with wide-ranging skills and multi-games experience.
Having solid leadership at the top is particularly important for these Games, which will be unique in combining volunteers with paid staff from the get go.
“No other Games has really gone with this model where you have volunteers working side by side with a paid staff. This is a model that we really want to show can be done,” said Radford at the Collicutt Centre news conference.
Other Games have leaned on paid staff until volunteers are recruited shortly before the Games, or relied almost entirely on volunteer organizers.
In Red Deer, volunteers have been a core part of the organizing group from Day 1 and bring their local knowledge about available resources from human expertise to athletic venues and support networks.
“(Volunteers) bring that knowledge. Staff bring the technical knowledge and I think that is a winning combination,” Radford said.
The city’s hosting of the well-received MasterCard Memorial Cup provided proof the city can host the big event, and volunteers from that will be tapped to lend their expertise to the Games. Radford said in September the call will go out for more Games planning volunteers.
Games CEO Scott Robinson said the leadership team is a key part of preparations. They will oversee a workforce that will grow over the next 2 1/2 years to 60 staff and 5,500 volunteers.
Of the 15 athletic venues, 13 will be in the city or close to it, such as Canyon Ski Area. A key facility will be Red Deer College’s Gary W. Harris Centre for Health, Wellness and Sport. Badminton, squash, figure skating, short-track speed skating, ringette and wheelchair basketball will be held there.
Two venues are located outside Central Alberta. Synchronized swimming will take place at Calgary’s Talisman Centre and alpine skiers will head to Nakiska in Kananaskis.
Robinson said River Bend Golf and Recreation Area will see some upgrades to ready it for cross-country skiing and biathlon.
Developing the schedule involved getting approval at the national level for all of the venues. They had to meet specific competitive standards as well provide space for spectators.
“It’s one thing to have a gymnasium, but the question is can you hold 1,000 people in there. Do you have the warm-up areas? Do you have the certain technical aspects of the field of play?” said Robinson.
The national sports organizations behind each event got involved in ensuring facilities were suitable.
The next step for Games organizers is to pull together a detailed business plan over the summer.