Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadians Focusing on Experience, Not Just Winning Medals, at Winter Universiade

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadians Focusing on Experience, Not Just Winning Medals, at Winter Universiade

Article excerpt

Canadians focus on experience at Universiade

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TORONTO - Canada's chef de mission at the Winter Universiade wants his athletes to soak in the atmosphere at the Games.

Gord Grace, the head of Canada's delegation at the World University Games in Trentino, Italy, believes that although it is a competitive environment, the university games are also an opportunity for personal development.

"I think it's a combination of high performance and experience," Grace said in a telephone interview on Sunday. "Certainly, we want them to be at their best, we want them to have an opportunity to compete against the best from countries from around the world at great venues, so I think that's part of the development.

"But it's also a unique opportunity. It'd be such a waste if they didn't take the time to really appreciate the beauty of Italy and the culture and the history and things like that. We've certainly been encouraging that with the athletes and their coaches. I think that's the goal -- a combination of those things."

The 26th Winter Universiade will see nearly 2,500 student-athletes from 61 countries compete against each other in 12 different sports spread across seven sites in the Trentino province in northern Italy. The Games end with a closing ceremony at the hockey arena in Alba-Canazei on Dec. 21.

Canada is sending its largest-ever contingent to the Games, with 107 athletes and 42 coaches, trainers and other support staff.

Competition begins with hockey on Tuesday, but the opening ceremonies will be held on Wednesday in the city of Trento. Brendan Bottcher, a curling standout from the University of Alberta, will be Canada's flag bearer at the opening festivities.

"Our expectation for our student-athletes is just to have a terrific experience here," said Grace. "We're in a great part of the world, just an absolutely beautiful region in Trentino. I hope they come away from it saying that this is a great experience, great opportunity, with really well-run events."

Canada's athletes have been chosen from universities across the country, but each sport has a different selection process.

The men's hockey team, for example, is an all-star team from the Atlantic conference of Canadian Interuniversity Sport. Each Universiade a different conference provides the all-stars. …

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