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These Thunder Bay athletes 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 doing it. 

The excitement is building for the games set to take place during the weekends of Feb 16- 19 and Feb 23- 26 at 11 venues throughout the city. 

 “If the sport isn’t fun. You shouldn’t be doing it,” said Abigail Skomorah, quoting her father.  

Skomorah is an athlete who competes in both cross-country skiing and biathlon, a sport where an athlete skis with a rifle on their back and shoots targets.

“The athletes are having to train harder as a result of milder temperatures this winter but they are making the most of it,” Skomorah said. 

“It’s gonna be more like mashed potatoes,” she said. “It’s mashed potato skiing” 

Abigail Skomorah is participating in the Ontario Winter Games in biathlon and cross-country skiing. (Sarah Law/CBC)

Competitor Leevi Swearengen plays futsal and talked about how his team is also training hard since it transitioned from a soccer team to a futsal team.  

Futsal is a sport similar to soccer but with a smaller, heavier ball and played on a court vs a soccer field. 

“It’s been a little bit of a difficult adjustment,” Swearengen said of making the transition from soccer. “But we’ve been training a lot and adding a lot of extra sessions.” 

“We’re definitely excited to prove ourselves [in the competition] and show what we can do. Even if we’re not a futsal specific team” he added.

All of the local athletes who spoke to CBC News said they have been training rigorously for the games.  

“The only way you can get into [competitive sport] is by starting and going out there and training,” said Kai Hautala, who is participating in both the biathlon and crossing-country skiing as well.

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

The Opening Ceremonies will take place on Friday, Feb. 16 and again on Friday, Feb. 23 at Fort William Historical Park from 5 to 9 p.m. 

A full list of all sports as well as a complete schedule of sporting events and venues can be viewed on the Ontario Winter Games Website. 

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