Saturday, 23rd February 2019
By Chris Welner
Medals and memories. That’s what athletes and officials will have packed in their luggage and hearts to take home Saturday on Turnaround Day at the Canada Winter Games. For those arriving for Week 2, check for hopes and dreams.
“It’s been a really amazing experience, especially the Opening Ceremonies. That was insane,” says Anna Rust, 16, a gymnast from Quispamsis, N.B. “There were always lots of activities going on. I’ve never been bored – and the food’s been really good. I’ll be sad to leave, but I’ll be happy to get home to see my family.”
More than 1,500 participants will be leaving Red Deer after Week 1 of the Games and another 1,640 will be moving in for Week 2 during a massive 24-hour logistics exercise unrivalled in international Games. Athletes are living in student residence buildings at Red Deer College. The school altered its schedule this year to accommodate the Games.
“It’s the largest human logistics operation outside of the military in Canada,” says Marc Sorrie, coordinator of host services for the Canada Games Council.
“The sheer volume of people and equipment is astounding, as is the distance it needs to travel. Every flight is full on Saturday — going and coming.”
Calgary Airport is the hub for 35 planes, mostly from WestJet. A handful of charter aircraft will carry delegations to the North, to Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island and Montreal. Amex Global Business Travel booked more than $4.5 million of air travel for these Games. Unlike the peanut and cracker flights, long-haul Canada Games travellers are fed during their journey and when they arrive at the Games Village.
While the buses start loading for Calgary Saturday morning, cleaning staff and volunteers will be stripping down linens and sleeping bags from 1,832 beds. Fresh sheets and new sleeping bags will await the next wave of Canada Games participants.
“The key ingredient to making it all work is really good volunteers and really good staff,” says Sorrie. “We have airport greeters, luggage loaders, drivers, cleaners and cooks all making sure our participants are well taken care of.”
Next weekend all of the student accommodations must be transformed back to the condition they were in before Canada Games folks got here. Bunk beds must be removed from every suite, desks replaced, all as if no one was ever here.
“It’s been a super experience. We have been treated very well and we have to say a huge thank you to all the volunteers who helped put on the Canada Games,” says Maxime Prieur, from the male Quebec gymnastics team that is taking home 12 medals. “We have been very happy with our games and our performance but will be glad to be back home in our own beds.”
Week 2 Events
Cross country Skiing
Spreading the Word About Turnaround Day
The Canada Games logistics team is making waves with Games societies around the world. There has been interest from organizers of the 2020 World Youth Olympics to learn logistical secrets from Canada Games experts whose meticulous planning makes operations feel seamless throughout the Games.
Delegations from South America and the South Pacific, organizers from future Canada Games in Niagara Falls, P.E.I., Newfoundland and Arctic Winter Games and Western Canada Summer Games have all expressed interest in how to manage the huge challenges of moving and housing more than 3,100 participants over an extended multisport festival.
“We do this small little thing and we’re slowly learning it’s a solid model and getting more and more interest to have our people go to these events to explain what we’re doing,” says Marc Sorrie, coordinator of host services for the Canada Games Council. “This model allows the Games to go to smaller jurisdictions, but it comes with this daunting task that is Turnaround Day. When that arrives, it’s all hands on deck.”
Having a Turnaround Day, one day where everybody leaves after Week 1 and a new wave of participants enters, allows organizers to double the capacity of available residences.
“This is a time for host societies to share our wins and losses with future Canada Games organizers and other Games franchises, domestic or international,” says Sorrie.