Eye on the Games

AT RANDOM: Vernon represents at 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea

We may not be racking up the medals, but Vernon is still putting on a strong showing in PyeongChang.

This “small” Okanagan town has managed to make a big impression at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Vernon’s Andrew Ebbett had an assist in his Olympic debut as Team Canada opened the men’s hockey competition with a 5-1 win over Switzerland Thursday. He’ll be back on the ice Friday at 7:10 p.m. as our home country takes on the Czech Republic and finishes the preliminary round Sunday against the host Koreans at 4:10 a.m. The quarter-finals will begin on Tuesday.

Canada is looking to win its third straight Olympic gold medal in men’s hockey. Joining Ebbett on the team is former Vernon Viper Chay Genoway of Winnipeg.

But it was a tough day for Canada’s men’s snowboardcross team Thursday.

Top finisher was Calgary’s Chris Robanske, who made it to the semifinals where he crashed and was taken off the course by snowmobile.

Robanske went for an MRI on his knee. Robanske also went down in his quarterfinal race, but managed to get back up and finish in third to qualify for the semifinal.

Vernon’s Kevin Hill, Canada’s top finisher in the event four years ago in Sochi, Russia (eighth overall), qualified for the quarterfinals, but finished fourth in his quarters race and did not advance.

Hill had family and friends watching his race live at Wings in Vernon, including his extreme racing sister Shanda.

As a kid and teen seeking speed, the thrill-seeking Hill (now 31) used to eat dirt as an elite BMX racer. He was 19 when he took up snowboarding and within a few years, was a contender on the world stage.

He finished eighth in the 2014 Sochi Games, placing second in the small final after he was wiped out of the big final.

“I still feel like I can keep up with the young kids at my age,” Hill told The Morning Star. “It feels like yesterday I was trying for the Games in Vancouver 2010 (he was forerunner) and I still have the energy and drive I did back then.”

But a groin injury from August has caused Hill some grief.

“Happy to walk away from this day without being injured,” Hill commented on Facebook.

Over on the biathlon course Vernon’s Emma Lunder was shut out Monday.

And Vernon Curling Club celebrity Jim Cotter coached Korea in the Games in doubles, which is now over.

Even though Vernon hasn’t made it to the podium, yet, each of these local athletes are winners in their own right for even making it to the Games.

They have proudly represented their country and community, and for that, they are golden.

— with files from Roger Knox and Kevin Mitchell

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