By Christine Ulmer, Team BC Communications
Team BC climbed the podium 10 times on Thursday, bringing home one gold, five silver and four bronze medals at the 2015 Canada Winter Games.
In the gymnastics event finals, Aaron Mah of Vancouver and Shallon Olsen combined for five medals for Team BC. Mah won gold in the men’s floor exercise and silver in men’s horizontal bars. Surrey’s Olsen won three medals: two silvers – vault and floor exercise – and a bronze in uneven bars.
“I was a bit tired today going into our third day of competition but I was confident that I could medal in a few events,” said Mah. “I knew what I had to do and I am proud that I hit all my routines. Consistency is so important so to hit all my routines three days in a row was great.”
Olsen qualified for all four female event finals after a very strong showing in the first night of competition.
“It was like another all around competition for me and I knew I had to hit all four events today,” she said. “It was great to have the crowd here but I didn’t let it distract me I really took the cheering to motivate me. I am relieved that it is all done but I have really enjoyed getting to know all of the other gymnasts as well as the other athletes.”
In Fort St. John, the site of the long track speed skating events, Team BC’s women earned two silver and two bronze medals. Carolina Hiller, Prince George, took silver in the 1000m long track and in the mass start event. Sara Spence, Kamloops, was third in 1000m and mass start.
Hiller skated a personal best time in the 1000m, taking a full two seconds off her previous record.
“It was awesome,” she said. “I went out there and I left it all on the ice.”
Hiller credits the support from the crowd as the reason she shattered her personal best.
“I was a little surprised I skated so fast,” she said. “My previous time was recorded in Calgary and that ice is faster. I was really shocked and really happy – it hasn’t really sunk in yet but the crowd and community and my teammates were so awesome cheering me on. My coaches really believed in me and that helped a lot.”
In the mass start event, Hiller stuck to her strategy throughout the chaotic and unpredictable race.
“You have no idea what other teams are going to do in the mass start so that makes it hard,” she said. “It’s eight laps but it goes by very fast. I planned on staying in the top five leaders during the race so that I would be in a good position to push to the finish. With two laps to go Quebec started picking up speed so I made sure I went with them. I managed get in between some of their skaters and split them up. Sara stayed right behind me and we did it.”
Langley’s Jessica Auton took bronze in the women’s air pistol target shooting finals. Though not a stranger to intense competition – Auton has a junior national championship under her belt – the 18-yaer-old from Langley battled nerves in the final round of Canada Winter Games competition.
“I was doing really well early on and my mental state was really good but then as we moved into the final round and they started announcing the people who were eliminated, I let that get to me a little bit and got nervous.”
Auton said she put a little bit more pressure on herself for these Games but after some deep breathing and positive self-talk, she calmed down and shot her way to the bronze medal.
“It felt really good,” she said. “I actually cried, and I never cry. There was just a lot of happiness and all of that emotion and stress of the competition was just leaving my body.”
The B.C. ringette team was solid today with a big overtime win against Saskatchewan 7-6. In women’s hockey, B.C. beat New Brunswick by a score of 4-1.