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Let the Winter Games begin

Athletes from across B.C. in Greater Vernon competing at Winter Games
Owen Langford

Look out Armstrong, the Bacon8or is in town.

And it has nothing to do with a hamburger.

Meet Kenny (The Bacon8or) Jewsbury, 12, four-foot-10, 80 pounds and a yellow belt from Tumbler Ridge set to compete in the B.C. Winter Games in karate at Armstrong’s Pleasant Valley Secondary School.

“My mom’s friend gave me the nickname and, yes, I have had the Baconator hamburger,” smiled Jewsbury, gathering with his Northern Rockies Karate-Do teammates from Tumbler Ridge, Fort St. John and Hudson’s Hope in the back parking lot of the Wesbild Centre Thursday.

The northern athletes were waiting for a school bus to take them to their respective schools, where they’ll be lodged for the next couple of nights.

Jewsbury, who’s been competing in karate for three years, and who has “passed through Vernon” before, couldn’t wait to get started.

“I’m looking forward to having a lot of fun,” said the Bacon8or who, along with all of his teammates, has a nickname embroidered on the back of his team jacket.

The Wesbild Centre was being used as transportation central for the athletes Thursday as they arrived from all parts of the province.

Like Jewsbury, Camille Irving, 13, from Victoria, will be competing in karate. Unlike the Bacon8or, it’s Irvine’s first trip to the North Okanagan.

And her first impression of Vernon?

“Cold,” laughed Irvine, who arrived in town with other Island athletes at around 2:30 a.m., and got a few hours sleep at a school before being woken up for breakfast and a transfer to another school.

A blue belt, Irvine has been to provincial karate championships but nothing, she said, as intense as the Winter Games.

“I’m very much looking forward to it,” she said. “Hopefully I’ll do well but I’m just going to try my best.”

Alpine skiers Calvin Cotton, 12, and Taylor Nixon-Smith, 11, from Courtenay, are both competing in their first B.C. Winter Games.

Cotton, who hopes to place in the top-20 in the disciplines of slalom, giant slalom and ski cross, spent the trip up trying to watch a movie and, er, meeting some new friends.

“There was a movie, How to Train Your Dragon, but most of us fell asleep before it was over,” said Cotton. “I met some girl hockey players on the bus. They all think I was flirting with them.”

Meeting the athletes and officials at the Wesbild Centre was a plethora of local Games volunteers, decked out in red and/or green coats.

Among those helping the weary travellers was Diana Williamson, who volunteered when the Winter Games were last in Vernon 20 years ago.

“I’m getting the kids off the buses, telling them the procedure to register, where their luggage is to go, and after they finish registering, I put them on the buses that go the schools for their particular sports,” said Williamson. “I love this. It’s going to be a spectacular Winter Games.”

Wielding a megaphone, also directing athletes to where they should be heading, was Fulton Secondary Grade 12 volunteer student Cody Lutes, who began his shift at 6 a.m.

“I’m usually not up until 7:30 so that was kind of early,” chuckled Lutes. “It’s pretty cool, though. They asked me to volunteer and I said sure. I’ve been helping athletes carry their luggage and asking them where they’re from, what sport they’re playing.

“The hockey players and the skiers have the most luggage.”

Competition in all sports begins today and wraps up Sunday. One female hockey game was played Thursday at the Pat Duke Memorial Arena in Lumby. The remainder of the female hockey schedule is at the Wesbild Centre.

Visit for schedules of all sports.

The closing ceremonies run from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Wesbild Centre.