All systems are go for the 2019 Alberta Winter Games to start up next week — the only thing organizers can’t control is the weather.
With this week’s polar system bringing lows of -26 to -32 C to the Red Deer area — and sticking around into the weekend — it’s conceivable that frosty temperatures could become an issue during two-week Games that run from Feb. 15 to March 3.
“It’s not going to stay cold,” said optimistic Lyn Radford, chair of the 2019 Canada Winter Games Committee.
But local Games CEO Scott Robinson confirmed that there’s always a contingency plan for weather extremes.
While most of the sporting competitions will be held indoors, there are several outdoor events that could be affected by extreme weather: the cross-country/biathlon at River Bend Golf Course, the ski and snowboard cross competitions at Canyon Ski Resort and speedskating at the outdoor oval at Great Chief Park.
Robinson said all the outdoor event organizers have temperature thresholds under which competitions cannot be held.
If it’s too cold for skiing or snowboarding in the Red Deer area, these events could be moved to more temperate parts of the province, said Robinson. “There could be skiing at Nakiska or the Calgary Nordic Centre.”
Although the speedskating oval at Great Chief park is in fantastic form — the ultra cold isn’t affecting it, so far, said Robinson, the competitions could be moved indoors to the Olympic oval in Calgary if it becomes too frigid to compete outdoors in Red Deer.
If the weather surprises by sending thermometers climbing, Games organizers will rely on snow-making equipment at Canyon Ski Resort and River Bend Golf Course.
As for all the things organizers can control, Radford and Robinson told city council on Monday that everything is in order for the Games torch to be lit a week from Friday.
About 5,500 volunteers are ready to help out at venues, with driving and feeding the athletes. Radford said about 80 per cent of them agreed for their names to be added to a data base that will be passed to the local Volunteer Central to draw on for future events.
“I’m hoping that will be picked up to become a permanent Games legacy,” she added.
Robinson told council that there will be 11 retail locations set up for the sale of Games merchandise.
Radford thanked city council — and especially city manager Craig Curtis, who plans to retire the day after the games are over — for their support over the last eight years of fundraising and planning.