'Nervous and excited': Special Olympics Canada Winter Games Thunder Bay 2020 officially open Tuesday

Posted In: News Date:Feb 26th, 2020

The Special Olympics Canada Winter Games Thunder Bay 2020 will officially begin Tuesday with opening ceremonies at Fort William Gardens in the northwestern Ontario city.

The five-day event brings together nearly 900 athletes from across the country to compete in alpine and cross-country skiing, figure skating and speed skating, snowshoeing, curling, floor hockey and five-pin bowling, said Doug Henry, Games manager.

"The athletes were mostly on a practice day Tuesday with the competition kicking off in all of the sports on Wednesday, so we definitely invite all of Thunder Bay to come out to the venues" and cheer on the competitors, he said.

Thunder Bay snowshoer Tyler Rissanen said Tuesday morning on CBC's Superior Morning program that he was "nervous, but at the same time excited" about his upcoming races.

He said it was "awesome" that he could be involved in the Games, especially because he is "representing my home city and being the host chapter."

His goals are "to meet new friends from other cities and just have a good time."

Rissanen is coached by his mother Nancy, who explained that the two snowshoers from Thunder Bay have been training as often as six times a week since July. The workouts take place on the snow, on the track, in the weight room and even in the pool as cross-training.

"They've done lots of hard work, lots of different kinds of training and now they're ready," she said.

"Special Olympics Canada has commented more than once that they're very impressed with the degree of planning that Thunder Bay has put into this. We're really looking forward to putting on a fantastic Games," said Henry.

The opening ceremonies, which begin at 6:30 p.m. are closed to the public, due to limited space at the arena, but they can be live-streamed through the Special Olympics Winter GamesThunder Bay 2020 website.