The first day of 2019 Canada Winter Games competition was frosty. Long track speedskating was the first event of the Games and everyone was bundled up at Great Chief Park. File photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff

Winter Games second week off to a chilly start

Monday and Tuesday’s outdoor events will be a battle against cold

2019 Canada Winter Games outdoor athletes will be tested by weather once again.

The first week of competition kicked off on Feb. 16 and fighting the cold was added to the list of challenges for athletes, and this week is shaping up the same way.

When the first event of the games — long track speedskating — began the first Games morning the temperature was in the mid -20s C, with a windchill making it feel more like -30 C.

The weather was not much more forgiving the following day when biathletes took to the course at River Bend Golf Course and Recreation Area.

As the week wore on, it warmed up gradually and outdoor events Thursday and Friday were much more spectator-friendly.

Well, the honeymoon is over.

When the cross-country skiing men and women leave the starting line around 10 a.m. on Monday at River Bend the temperature is expected to be only -25 C. Throw in windchill, it’s going to feel like -36 C.

Snowboarders, whose competitions begin at 10:45 a.m. at Canyon Ski Area, will also have a chilly start to their Games experience.

By 2 p.m., it is expected to warm up to -19 C, still about 17 degrees colder than normal for this time of year.

Look for much of the same on Tuesday, when the snowboarders will hit the slopes at 9:45 a.m. at Canyon and the cross-country skiers will start their competition an hour later at River Bend.

It looks like it will get a little more pleasant for athletes, volunteers and spectators alike by Wednesday when the high is forecast as -6 C. Thursday’s high is expected to be -10 C and Friday’s high -13 C.

Most of the competitors interviewed last week downplayed the conditions with admirable Canadian stoicism.

Shortly after winning gold in the women’s 1,500-metre long track speedskating event, Brooklyn McDougall talked about her race, which involved battling strong headwinds and snow flurries.

Competing in the great outdoors just “makes it that much more fun,” said the Calgarian. “You never know what’s going to happen out there.”

McDougall would finish her games with five medals: two gold, two silver and one bronze.

The weather is always the big unknown in outdoor events in Canada — especially in Alberta.

“We will deal with the elements as we dealt with them last week,” said Team Alberta representative Guy Napert-Frenette.

“We were fortunate last week that the cold weather did not impact competition. We’re really hoping this second week remains the same.

“We’re confident we’ll be able to fight off this cold,” he said.

“These athletes are used to competing in these elements. They’ll race in +5 C like we had in Prince George, B.C. all the way to -25 C.”

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