Coralee Oakes, BC minister of community, sport and cultural development, lit the torch to officially open the 2014 B.C. Winter Games Thursday evening at Mission Raceway Park.
More than 1,000 people attended the opening ceremonies for the Games and many braved the wind and cold temperatures throughout the evening to witness the event.
The ceremony began at 7 p.m. with some drumming from the Leq’a:mel First Nations who led the dignitaries and other VIPs onto the stage. Global Television’s Steve Darling emceed the event and energized the audience by reminding the crowd of the gold medals won in Sochi earlier today by the women’s hockey team and curling team.
“The athletes at the B.C. Games are the best young developing athletes this province has to offer,” said Darling. “The B.C. Games are an important stepping stone for athletes, coaches and officials to move on to higher levels of competition, like national teams, Canada Games, and eventually the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
More than 1,300 athletes from across the province are in Mission for the Games, which run from Feb. 21-23 at various locations. Competitors will be going for gold in one of 18 sports.
Athletes represent one of eight zones in the province: Kootenays, Thompson-Okanagan, Fraser River-Delta, Vancouver-Squamish, Vancouver Island-Central Coast, North West, Cariboo-North East, and Fraser Valley.
Fraser Valley has the largest team with 230 athletes and 51 coaches.
Five athletes from Mission will compete for Fraser Valley: Janie Green, Shivani Bahadur, and Adam Holtby in speed skating, and Tamara Skelstad and Kristofer Uppan in gymnastics.
Young athletes filled half of the quarter-mile strip at Mission Raceway Park to enjoy a dance titled Volunteer Movement and Mission’s 2014 B.C. Winter Games theme song Bring on the Games, written by local musician Jennie Bice.
Volunteer Movement was performed by 47 youth ranging in age from seven to 18.
Olympic swimmer Brent Hayden was also recognized during the night, as well as his wife, singer Nadine Zarifen, who led the crowd in singing the national anthem.
Hayden called on speed skater Janie Green to take the Athletes Oath on behalf of all athletes in the Games.
Competition begins Friday, Feb. 21, and runs throughout the weekend. The closing ceremonies take place on Sunday, Feb. 23 at 1 p.m. at Mission Raceway Park.
Keep checking missioncityrecord.com and the BCGames tab on this site for ongoing coverage throughout the Games.