Preparations for the 2020 Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse are well underway. Last Thursday, the winner of the mascot competition was announced. Created by 11-year-old Owen McDonald, the mascot for the AWG in 2020 will be a porcupine named Däch’äw.
Starting on Tuesday was the Mission 1 (M1) meetings and the Chef de Mission from the nine contingents descended on Whitehorse.
On Wednesday, the contingent took a tour of all of the AWG venues. The Star caught up to the tour at the Canada Games Centre where figure skating, speed skating, hockey, volleyball, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies will take place.
From the CGC the tour moved to Mount McIntyre where the curling and cross-country skiing will be hosted.
Tracey Bilsky, the vice-president of the sports division, said the M1 meetings are to give the Chef’s an idea of the vision of the hosts.
“M1 is all about seeing the facilities,” said Bilsky. “It really is about giving them a bit of an outlook a year out of what some of our plans are per division. So we give them a general idea on what we are working on but really it is to see the facilities and give any comments that they have.”
Whitehorse last hosted the AWG in 2012. Bilsky said she was confident that every one of the Chefs would find the facilities more than acceptable.
“The nice thing is in Whitehorse is this tour has been extremely successful,” said Bilsky. “Our facilities are beautiful and more than sufficient so people are happy. There have been zero big concerns so far and we did not anticipate that.”
Using the curling rink as an example Bilsky explained what the Chefs would be looking to see while touring the facilities.
“So in the curling rink they want to make sure there is enough sheets so that it will support the sport schedule for the amount of contingents that are bringing curling teams,” said Bilsky. “They want to know where spectators are going to watch and will there be streaming so people can watch from home?”
Bilsky said the M1 meetings are the base of the mountain. The Chefs from the nine contingents will submit their concerns, if they have any, to the host committee and they will work to rectify them before the next meeting in the fall.
“Our host society is about making sure there is a lot of communication,” said Bilsky.
“There is a lot of experience but there is a lot of new people involved with new ideas. So it’s culminating all of the ideas and the feedback we get here to put on the best games we can.”
John Rodda is from the Alaskan delegation. When he comes on a tour he is looking to ensure a positive athlete experience.
“When we look at facilities we are looking at the sports venues, cultural venues, accommodations and food services,” said Rodda. “It’s a whole package, it’s not isolated to one category.”
“Are they going to be accommodated from the standpoint of what is their bed going to be like? Are they going to have a bed? What security is in place? What is transportation like? These are all important to these athletes. They come to primarily to compete but it is the whole social experience that comes with it. It has to be workable for all athletes because not all speak English.”
As well as the athletes coming to Whitehorse, there will be a lot of people coming to the community and the tour is to ensure Whitehorse puts on the best games it can.
“You will have a lot of people coming to your community and you want to put your best foot forward,” said Rodda. “It’s our job to evaluate everything that has been presented. We know that Whitehorse has the resources both from a human and facility side but you go through these exercises just for those assurances.”
So far, Rodda said he is pleased with what he has seen but that he still has some questions. He said the meetings are important to ensure complacency does not sink in so that Whitehorse can shine when the Games are on.