The excitement builds as the world focuses its attention on the best athletes on the planet who will compete at the Olympics in South Korea starting this week.
St. Albert has three good reasons to be excited about the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games as local curlers Marc Kennedy and Scott Pfeifer, and hockey player Meaghan Mikkelson join teams with high hopes of bringing home Olympic medals.
The local athletes are not taking anything for granted. They have worked hard to get to the pinnacles of their sports and know they have to beat the best teams in the world to stay on top. Each of the athletes has an impressive list of accomplishments including national and world titles. Kennedy and Mikkelson have won previous Olympic gold medals and the prospects look good this time around as all three are favoured to come home with a medal from these games.
Yet the athletes have never been too big for the hometown crowd; each being generous with their time and talent with young people in their sport and fans in general. They have made countless visits to share their Olympic trials and triumphs and to show off their medals to students and community groups.
In December, Mikkelson, already a two-time Olympic gold medallist in women’s hockey, helped to create an Olympic moment with a local midget hockey team who had the thrill of playing against Mikkelson’s women’s team in St. Albert.
Kennedy hosts the annual Marc Kennedy Junior Classic at local rinks to spur on a new generation of curlers.
Curlers Kennedy and Pfeifer, who play on the Kevin Koe men’s curling team, were gracious during a visit to Sturgeon Heights School recently where students held a torch ceremony to send the athletes off in style.
“Thank you to all of you for doing something special for Scott and I for all the unbelievable torches and for everybody that is wearing Canada gear,” Kennedy told students.
“When Scott and I go to the Olympics and we get to wear that Maple Leaf on our backs we are so proud to be Canadian and we are so proud to represent you,” Kennedy said.
Mikkelson, Kennedy and Pfeifer are ambassadors for their respective sports, for their community and their country. They represent St. Albert on the grandest stage of them all. They also show our youth that hard work and perseverance pays off.
It’s also important to note that these athletes didn’t accomplish their goals without the support of many people along the way. As our locals compete in South Korea, they know that they are also representing those who have helped raise them up to this level.
Our Olympic athletes are inspiring a new generation of Canadians to dream the big dreams, to work hard and follow those dreams as far as they will take them. As a nation, we tend to get caught up in regional and political differences, but the Olympics unites us all, and it reminds us just how great our country is. Go, Canada, go.