Team Okanagan is back on the ice after bringing home 13 medals from the Winter World Masters Games in Innsbruck, Austria.
“It was not an easy competition,” said Isabella Ciocoiu, adult figure skater. “Some of us went through injuries, some of us came from retirement, and just being there was a huge accomplishment. Getting the medals was just a cherry on top of the cake.”
The team competed in the world’s biggest sports festival for athletes over 30 years of age. More than 3,000 athletes and their support teams descended on the Austrian city to compete for a spot on the podium. After a long hiatus as a skater, Alanna Rittich earned two gold medals.
“I never thought I would take up skating again; I quit when I was 14,” said Rittich. “I hadn’t skated for 43 years and here I am and it’s been an amazing journey. “We are a team in a true sense of the world. We all help one another.”
Now home, the athletes are skating with their hard-earned medals around their necks — their testament to the belief that hard work pays off. “It takes a lot of practice, it’s not just something you just decide to do. You really have to work at it to complete that goal for yourself and I feel it was worth it,” said figure skater Wendy Moores. “When I practice it’s about stroking and edges and finding our centre. When you are performing, it’s about connecting with the audience and telling a story with each song.”
The Okanagan team is now keeping up their training, with their eyes on the prize at the next Winter World Masters Games in four years.