Next month, more than 2,500 athletes, coaches and officials will descend on the Banff area for the Alberta Winter Games. And one of those athletes is 16-year-old Stettler figure skater Rebecca Harvey.
“It was my last year to be eligible for it, and I usually like to go to every competition that’s offered,” Harvey said. “And so I just thought I would try it and thought I might have a pretty good shot at it, so I just went for it.”
The Alberta Winter Games take place every two years, and are meant to showcase youth talent in sports.
The Winter Games are comprised of a variety of sports, from skiing to judo to synchronized swimming.
Harvey will be competing against the top two athletes in seven zones (Stettler is in Zone 4, which makes eight zones total).
In late November, Harvey competed in the Zone 4 “playoffs” in Airdrie against about 50 skaters within the zone, and found out that she had made it to the Games several days later.
“I am so excited,” she said. “I found out on Tuesday (after the qualifier) and I was just … I couldn’t even explain it. I was just bouncing off the walls.”
Participants in the Games receive team jackets, and there are fun things to do outside the competition. Winners also earn medals, but the competition is tough.
“It’s the top two from eight different zones, so you’re getting the best out of each zone,” said Danielle Mohn, Harvey’s coach of five years. “So it definitely is one of the toughest competitions that we’ll go to that incorporates the whole province.”
Mohn, however, believes the odds are good that Harvey will do well.
“She’s a great technical skater and has great lines and positions, so she has a strong chance to do really well and place in top 10 or top five,” Mohn said.
This is Harvey’s eighth year skating, but she admits that she gets nervous before competitions. Fortunately, the nerves disappear when she’s actually skating.
“I get so nervous for every competition,” she said. “It’s almost really, really bad. But I’m trying to work on it. Especially for the Winter Games, I don’t want to be too nervous. But I think actually once I start my program, I just settle in and I’m good.”
Mohn doesn’t seem worried about Harvey’s nerves.
“She gets better. She just squeezes out her nerves before she goes on, takes a deep breath, and usually she’ll settle into her program and then go from there.”
Although this is Harvey’s last year to be eligible for the Games, she’s not done with skating. After she graduates from school, she plans to continue skating and working in Edmonton.