When Team B.C. makes its entrance into the Halifax Metro Centre as part of the 2011 Canada Winter Games' opening ceremonies on Friday evening, an extremely happy Tori Spence will be at the head of the procession.
"I'm really excited," Spence, 18, said from Calgary on Monday. "I think I'm more excited than nervous. I'll probably be nervous that night.
"It's a huge honour."
Spence, who is a long track speed skater from Kamloops and is the eldest member of local speed skating's first family, didn't know she had been nominated as Team B.C.'s flag bearer for the Games that run Friday through Feb. 27 in Halifax.
Her mother, Cathy Turnbull-Spence, who is a former national team speed skater, had managed to keep it to herself, as had coach Nancy Goplen of Kelowna, who supplied pictures and information for the nomination.
"They called me and at first I didn't really know what they were talking about," said a laughing Tori. "They asked me if I would accept representing B.C., and I said, 'Of course, I would.'
"That's so exciting."
Spence, from the River City Racers, skated for B.C. in the 2007 Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse, but she has come a long way since then and now has her sights set on competing for Canada at the Olympic Winter Games in 2014 and 2018.
"After the Canada Winter Games (in 2007)," she said, "I realized how much I really did love speed skating so that's kind of what launched my goals to move to Calgary and go farther in the sport."
Ask her about 2007 in Whitehorse and she will tell you that she mostly remembers the social aspect of the Games, hanging around in the athletes' village where "there were so many activities going on. . . . It was a really good atmosphere."
She was 14 years of age then. Today, she is a university student - she is in the bachelor of science program at the U of Calgary. And she trains there at the Olympic Oval.
When Team B.C. strolls into the opening ceremonies, she'll be easy to spot. She'll be the one carrying the flag and wearing the large smile
Courtesy: The Kamloops Daily News