These athletes in Thunder Bay are pumped as the Ontario Winter Games approach

Young athletes in Thunder Bay say they are training hard for the upcoming Ontario Winter Games and are having fun.

Excitement is building with games scheduled to take place over the weekends of February 16-19 and February 23-26 at 11 venues across the city.

“If a sport isn’t fun, you shouldn’t do it,” Abigail Scumura said, quoting her father.

Sukumura is an athlete who competes in both cross-country skiing and biathlon, a sport in which the athlete skis with a rifle on his back and shoots at targets.

“Athletes have to train harder as a result of the mild temperatures this winter, but they are making the most of it,” Scomura said.

“It will be more like mashed potatoes,” she said. “It’s skating on mashed potatoes.”

Girl standing in Fort William Historic Park.
Abigail Scumura competes at the Ontario Winter Games in biathlon and cross-country skiing. (Sarah Low/CBC)

Competitor Levi Swearingen plays futsal and spoke about how his team has trained hard since switching from a soccer team to a futsal team.

Futsal is a sport similar to soccer but using a smaller, heavier ball and is played on a field versus a soccer field.

“It was a bit of a tough adjustment,” Swearingen said of the transition from soccer. “But we trained a lot and added a lot of extra sessions.”

He added: “We are definitely excited to prove ourselves (in the competition) and show what we can do. Even if we are not a specialist futsal team.”

All of the local athletes who spoke to CBC News said they are training rigorously in preparation for the Games.

“The only way you can get into (competitive sports) is to start, get out and train,” said Kai Hutala, who participates in both biathlon and cross-country skiing.

The Ontario Winter Games is a high-level competition with approximately 1,350 athletes, coaches and officials expected to participate. Nearly 1,000 volunteers were recruited this year to help make the event a success.

Opening ceremonies will be held on Friday, February 16 and again on Friday, February 23 at Fort William Historic Park from 5 to 9 p.m.

The full list of all sports as well as the full schedule of sporting events and venues can be found on the website Ontario Winter Games website.

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