And the winner is…. Prince George

It seems like last month but it was nearly 4 ½ years ago when BC Premier, Gordon Campbell, announced in downtown Vancouver at the site of the 2010 Olympic torch, that the City of Prince George won the bid to host the 2015 Canada Winter Games. High five’s were witnessed throughout the City of P.G. from men, women and children of all ages, all incomes and all ethnic backgrounds. Yes, Prince George took great delight to beat out Kamloops and Kelowna in the 15-month bid process.

Now, here we are on another memorable Friday, which happens to be the lucky 13th of February, 2015 and the Games are ready to begin with what certainly will be a spectacular Opening Ceremonies tonight at CN Centre.

The Games will be the largest multi-sport and cultural event to ever be held in Prince George and Northern B.C. making this truly a once in a lifetime experience. Over the next 2 ½ weeks until March 1st, P.G. will play host to approximately 2,400 athletes, 1,000 coaches, team managers and officials, in addition to hundreds of media and thousands of visitors.

To this end, Prince George residents are feeling a sense of pride, gratification and honor to welcome the nation. Prince George is a proud host which means get out the fine china from the dining room cabinet, the red carpet, and a well-rounded menu with the understanding this is a well-organized party larger than any sport, individual or business.

Most local residents will have a connection to these Games which helps bring the community together. There are a handful from Prince George that will compete (19), there are the many that will volunteer (in excess of 4,000), and there are thousands that will either attend the sports, and/or the many festivals and entertainment. If one is not among the above, surely they will know someone who is.

Topics like the weather, gas prices, taxes, politics, the Vancouver Canucks and P.G. Cougars have broad appeal, but the Games are a rallying point where youth, teens, adults and seniors band together each enjoying this unique experience.

The key word is “fun”. There will be glitches, frustrations, emotions of highs and lows all of which needs to be kept in context. If the hosts are having an enjoyable time that surely will rub off on the guests.

Prince George has the opportunity to make that first impression on many first time visitors to the city and it’s a virtual certainty the response will be positive. It’s Northern hospitality and when it comes to a helping hand, the vast majority of P.G. residents have always been top notch.

The athletes (ranging in age from 12-35) are set, the facilities are ready and the sports are in place:

–Ringette (PG Coliseum), Long Track Speed Skating (Outdoor Ice Oval), Alpine Skiing (Purden/Tabor), Freestyle Skiing (Tabor) and Women’s Hockey (Kin 2/CN Centre) will all start Saturday.

–Artistic Gymnastics (Northern Sport Centre), Archery (Northern Sport Centre), Short Track Speed skating (Kin 1), Biathlon (Otway Nordic Ski Centre) and Men’s Curling (PG Golf and Curling Club) will begin Sunday.

–Target Shooting (CNC) and Wheelchair Basketball (Duchess Park) will get going Monday. All will conclude by Friday the 20th.

–In week two, Squash (Northern Sport Centre) and Men’s Hockey (CN Centre/PG Coliseum) begins on Sunday the 22nd.

–Badminton (Northern Sport Centre), Figure Skating (Kin 1), Cross Country Skiing (Otway Nordic Ski Centre), Women’s Curling (PG Golf and Curling Club) and Table Tennis (Duchess Park), will start on Monday the 23rd.

–Synchronized Swimming (PG Aquatic Centre), Gymnastics/Trampoline (CNC), and Snowboarding (Purden/Tabor) will begin on Tuesday the 24th.

–Judo (Northern Sport Centre) will get its turn in the spotlight starting on Wednesday the 25th.

–Squash and Men’s Hockey are the only sports scheduled for Sunday, March 1st prior to the Closing Ceremonies on the final day.

The competitiveness and pursuit of the podium is a focal point; however, the wide variety of non-sports entertainment each day will be an integral part that will make these Games historic, memorable and successful.

Prince George will receive unprecedented television exposure with part of this recognition to focus on Patti Knezevic and her Prince George provincial championship women’s curling team including 3rd Kristen Fewster, 2nd Jen Rusnell and lead Rhonda Camozzi. For the first time in 21 years (Dianne Dalio in 1994) P.G. will have a rink that will represent BC at the National Scotties Tournament of Hearts which begins Saturday in Moose Jaw. This weekend, one TSN channel will put the spotlight on the Canada Winter Games while another channel will follow the fortunes of Knezevic’s foursome at the Scotties.

An old cliché is to “enjoy the moment.” The “Welcome” sign is up for all out of town athletes, visitors and guests from every part of the country.

LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

From the Quote Rack:

Riley Cooper was the featured player for the Eagles’ Black History Month. Isn’t that like featuring the Patriots’ ball boy in an ad for Big O Tires?

Michael Jordan, in giving the President a gift once, unfortunately misspelled the Commander-in-Chief’s first name as ‘Barrack’. Well, at least it wasn’t a triple double.

Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

Richie Incognito has agreed to a deal with the Buffalo Bills. Wait, I thought Rex Ryan said “we’re going to build a bully,” not sign one.

It just gets worse for Brian Williams, now the embattled NBC anchor was alleged to have referred to the Toronto Maple Leafs as a professional hockey team.

Contributor Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com

A hotel opening this summer in Japan will use robots to check you in and carry your luggage to your room. What’s next? Brian Burke scanning your tickets when you go to The Saddledome?

Tiger Woods is leaving the PGA Tour until he gets his game back together, especially his chipping. He is going back to learn the basics of golf where his career started – at the local pitch and putt. But first he has to find his 9 iron.

Comedy writer TC Chong of Vancouver (http://alwaysfunny.com/)

And in case you missed it:

Orange News says Beijing police questioned a man who rode the subway wearing a watermelon mask. All they got was his name, rank and Mosaic Stadium seat number.

Comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

Hartley Miller is the sports director and morning news anchor for 94.3 the Goat. His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com. Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to hmiller@thegoatrocks.ca
Follow him on twitter: @Hartley_Miller