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Island gold rush at Canada Games and hope for the Royals

Island pair win karate gold medals
Olivia Brodie, left, and Ella Crowle, both of Victoria, show off their karate medals in the Athletes ­Village at the 2023 Canada ­Winter Games in P.E.I. SUBMITTED

Island athletes reached the midway point of the 2023 Canada Winter Games in Prince Edward Island with a gold rush in karate and wheelchair basketball and hope for the Victoria Royals in hockey.

Ella Crowle and Olivia Brodie of Victoria both won gold medals in their divisions and Brodie added a bronze medal as karate made its Games debut. (The Canada Winter Games include some summer sports to help fill out the agenda).

Elise Froese of Saanichton and Nicholas van Bakel of Victoria captured the gold medal with the B.C. team Saturday in wheelchair basketball by beating defending-champion Alberta in the final.

The emerging Cole Reschny, the Royal’s prize 2022 WHL draft pick, selected third overall, showed why all the hype and anticipation is not mis-placed as he scored twice to lead Saskatchewan to a 4-3 semifinal win in men’s hockey and into the gold-medal game against Ontario. Reschny scored in the final but Ontario won 3-2 in double overtime. Royals’ prospect Grant Reid, along with Koen Cleaver of Port Alberni and Victoria players Alain Colton and Parker MacDougall played for Team B.C., which lost 7-3 to Quebec in the bronze-medal game.

Morgan Jackson of Courtenay, a World U-18 champion with Canada, will represent B.C. in women’s hockey in the second half of the Games beginning today. Other Island athletes in P.E.I. for the 2023 Canada Winter Games include Chris Parkinson of Comox, Jesse Tiede of Black Creek, Graham Lee of Courtenay and Emily Bowles of Victoria in curling, Zoe Greze-Kozuki of Campbell River in freestyle skiing and Dylan Stevenson of Royston and Kate Rowsthorn of Shawnigan Lake in snowboarding.

The chef de mission of the B.C. team — numbering 350 including athletes, coaches, managers and mission staff — is Olympian and Victoria cycling coach Kurt Innes. They are following in good company. Hockey player Micah Zandee-Hart of Saanichton and freestyle skier Cassie Sharpe of Comox, both Olympic medallists, were among the 20 Canada Winter Games alumni from B.C. who competed in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Nation-wide, Canada Winter Games alumni over the years include Sidney Crosby, Catriona LeMay Doan and Hayley Wickenheiser. The Island’s impact, due to climate, is however more evident in the Canada Summer Games with Games alumni from here such as Steve Nash, Ryan Cochrane, Gerald Kazanowski, Eli Pasquale, Gareth Rees, Gary Reed, Ian Bridge, Riley McCormick and Paul and Gary Gait, among numerous others.

The total number of athletes, coaches, managers and staff gathered in P.E.I. through next Sunday is 3,600.