Never give in

Catch you on the Rebound

By Curtis J. Phillips, Connect Contributor

Alberta Sport Connection Chair John Short stands beside Mayor Melissa Blake with local residents on January 14, after Short announced the Wood Buffalo region won the bid to host the 2018 Alberta Winter Games. Connect Contributor Curtis J. Phillips writes about the future plans for the 2018 AWG and how weather has impacted sporting events throughout Alberta history. Supplied photo

Alberta Sport Connection Chair John Short stands beside Mayor Melissa Blake with local residents on January 14, after Short announced the Wood Buffalo region won the bid to host the 2018 Alberta Winter Games. Connect Contributor Curtis J. Phillips writes about the future plans for the 2018 AWG and how weather has impacted sporting events throughout Alberta history. Supplied photo

On Friday, July 31, 1987 a deadly tornado touches down in Edmonton and Strathcona County, killing 27 people, while leaving more than 300 people injured and 300 homes destroyed.

It became known as Black Friday.

A few days later, I made the journey south to Strathcona Country to cover the 1987 Alberta Summer Games (ASG), which was hosted by Strathcona County.

Despite the many hurdles caused by the tornados havoc, they pulled off a great event.

A few years later at the 1992 Alberta Winter Games (AWG) – hosted right here in Fort McMurray, it was Mother Nature once again grabbing the headlines as high temperatures melted the snow.

Organizers solved the matter in quick fashion by hauling in man-made snow.

We forgot to bring our umbrellas to the 1997 ASG in Lloydminster, as daily heavy rains casted a shadow on the many outdoor events. Vic Juba and crew did what they could and everyone made it through.

Once again conditions, be it natural, manmade or a combination of both, threaten with the questioned hosting of the 2018 AWG.

Commenced to start February 1, 2018 in Fort McMurray and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB), the concern is that we may not be ready or even capable for such, due to the recent forest fires ((Fire 9, MWF-009, Horse Creek Fire), which have been dubbed The Beast.

Of the 20 sports at the AWG, only five are held outdoors – alpine skiing, biathlon, cross country skiing, free style skiing and snowboarding – and we have the facilities, manpower and spirit to host the other 15.

Not a scientist of any means, but the outdoor areas needed for the five outdoor sports should have had a rebirth of sorts by then. Not too sure, but this may be the crux that the RMWB is looking into.

I have been a huge fan of the ASG/AWG games ever since we hosted the 1985 ASG.

They have been a stepping stone or part of the process for countless future professional or Olympic athletes. They continue to unlock the age of enthusiasm.

We need that enthusiasm right now.

The feeling in my bones and heart, say that we are capable, willing and more than ready to proceed with the hosting of the 2018 AWG.

We must not let The Beast win out.

Some have called for May 3, the date when the fire raised its ugly head, to be recognized annually in some sort or fashion.

A nice idea, but one I oppose, due to the fact of the negativity for those who have lost their homes.
We should celebrate who we are. We are Fort McMurray (sorry Fort Mac fans).

We are named after William McMurray. He was born March 4, 1824 and died March 7, 1877 (died while eating chicken wings at his mother in laws house in Winnipeg).

So, why not hold an annual event every year from March 4-7 celebrating culture, sports and history?

McMurray was an athlete of some note.

In my book, William McMurray Our Namesake, according to Chief Factor Roderick MacFarlane, McMurray was, “an excellent shot, and among the best winter travelers of his time.”

Catch you on the rebound.

-Connect Weekly-