P.E.I. delegation heads out today for Canada Games

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Members of the Canada Games speed skating team, from left, are Andrew McQuaid, Peter McQuaid, Carly Connell, Korrina LeClair, Miriam Burnett, Jared Vriends, Michael Rogers and Zach Moran.

Week One squads to get away just before another snowstorm strikes Island Friday

The P.E.I. contingent for week one of the 2015 Canada Winter Games heads to Prince George, B.C. by charter aircraft this afternoon, just ahead of a snowstorm forecast to hit the province Friday. Snowy conditions are usually a good thing for winter games preparations but Mother Nature has been a little too harsh of late.

 On two occasions, a P.E.I. team pep rally was postponed because of bad weather and finally was cancelled. The rally is the opportunity to officially announce the teams, introduce athletes and mission staff, unveil the uniforms and pick up good luck wishes from politicians and supporters. It’s a big deal for the athletes and family members, and helps get everyone revved up for the national gathering of our finest young athletes. Those expressions of best wishes are now part of a video posted on the province’s website

The pep rally is a great opportunity for media to do interviews, take photos and video. It’s also a rare opportunity for all teams to get together and mingle before departing the province. So it was disappointing to miss out on that happy occasion. Hopefully it will make our teams even hungrier to do well and grab some headlines through their accomplishments in Prince George. The Guardian’s sports editor Jason Malloy will be on that charter flight to provide full coverage in stories, photos and videos over the next two weeks in the newspaper, on our website and social media.

P.E.I. has 17 teams competing in 15 sports from Feb. 13 – March 1, which involves more than 2,400 young athletes from across Canada. The Island delegation includes 136 athletes, 48 coaches and managers and 12 mission staff. Despite our small size and long odds, Islanders have won their share of medals, especially when we hosted the winter Games in 1991 and summer Games in 2009.

The opportunity to compete and achieve personal best performances is important at this largest multi-sport competition for young Canadian athletes. It’s also an opportunity for our athletes to experience world-class athletic competition.

“Our athletes have worked long and hard to prepare for the Games and each one of them is deserving of his or her spot on Team P.E.I.,” says Sport Minister Doug Currie. “We acknowledge the tremendous support of parents, coaches and supporters who have made this incredible experience possible for the athletes.”

We wish our Island athletes good luck in Prince George.

Statistics show improvement

The statistics speak for themselves. The number of traffic-related collisions and fatalities on the Island continues to plummet, even while the number of registered drivers increases. In 2014 there were five fatalities, compared to 15 the previous year. That is a dramatic drop and transportation officials say last year had the lowest number of fatalities on record. In 1980, there were 35 fatalities on Island roads, a frightening figure.

Transportation Minister Robert Vessey said statistics show that investments in road safety have a direct impact on the safety of Islanders. It’s hard to dispute that conclusion.

The minister has been relentless, increasing fines and penalties for distracted driving and drinking and driving offences.

Islanders at large are also playing an increasingly important role in keeping drunks from getting behind the wheel. Cell phone calls to police alerting them of possible impaired drivers account for more and more charges.

Mr. Vessey says tougher legislation for impaired driving, awareness for distracted driving, improving some of our infrastructure and working closely with enforcement agencies have all helped make our roads safer.

It seems the message is getting across.

Organizations: Canada Games

Geographic location: Iceland, Canada, Prince George Prince George.Statistics

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