In August of 2017, Special Olympics Canada announced that the 2020 Winter Games would be hosted here in Thunder Bay. The national event will see over 1,200 athletes, coaches, and mission staff take to the city to participate. Among them will be some of Thunder Bay’s own talent.

On June 27th, Special Olympics Thunder Bay revealed the fifteen local athletes who will represent Team Ontario. The following competitors have qualified at both the regional and provincial levels in their respective sports:

  • Alpine Skiing – Amy Cizmar and Carson Smith
  • Nordic Skiing – Justin Campbell and Noah Filice
  • Speed Skating – Claire Kachur
  • Snowshoeing – Tyler Rissanen and Gabrielle Hannusch
  • Curling – Janice Martinsen, Marco Pauselli, Jordan Pretchuk, Mykola Cuthbertson, and Rachel Warren
  • 5 Pin Bowling – Joshua Tomagatick, Steven Mau, and Julia Luck.

The announcement came as an exciting surprise for the hopefuls, who were not given any prior details. “The parents were told just to tell them that this was a 2020 Games special event,” says Denita Minoletti, Treasurer/Event Coordinator and Northwestern Liaison for Team Ontario. “I decided to do it that way so that everybody was hearing about it at the exact same time.”

As for the qualifiers, the opportunity to compete at the national level is both a recognition of their hard work and a new goal to work towards. “I’m happy I’m continuing on,” explains athlete Amy Cizmar, who says she has been training for this moment for about three years. “I’m hoping for the best with downhill skiing for me.”

Spectators can look forward to cheering on these local competitors at the 2020 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Thunder Bay scheduled from February 25-29.