Athletes from Team Alberta have been busy preparing for the upcoming Special Olympics Canada Winter Games taking place in Thunder Bay, Ontario next week.

Team Alberta is made up of close to 100 athletes from across the province who will be representing Alberta and competing in a wide array of Winter Sports at the National level.

The national multi-sport games for athletes with an intellectual disability happen every four years and includes eight winter sports in total: alpine skiing, 5-pin bowling, curling, figure skating, floor hockey, snowshoeing, speed skating and cross country skiing.

Shawn Jesse is the head coach for Alberta's cross country ski team and he says that two athletes from Cochrane and one from Canmore and will be amongst the athletes representing Alberta at the nationals.

"On our ski team, we have Eloise Stewart and Brock Jesse from Cochrane who will be competing in a mixture of freestyle and classic, and we have athletes competing across all the distances offered; from the short 500 metres to 10k. Eloise is a veteran; she's in her forties and has competed in several provincial, national and world games. Brock Jesse is twenty and he has competed in both provincials and nationals."

Jesse says that in addition to outdoor training, the athletes have been actively participating in training camps in preparation for their upcoming competitions. They have been doing dryland training, working in the gym and they have also participated in classroom sessions with sport psychologists, motivational speakers and local nutritionists. 

Jesse says that the team is ready and excited to compete and represent Alberta at the Winter Games and he anticipates that they will do well in their competitions.

He says "We have great athletes coming from the Cochrane, Canmore and Calgary areas and our expectations are pretty high to medal well! We have some veteran athletes who have won medals in past games, and our expectations are definitely high."

The Team Alberta athletes are off to Thunder Bay this weekend and Jesse says they'll have a couple of days of practice runs before the games get underway. He says "We fly out this Sunday morning and we'll get a couple of days to climatize. On Monday we have a practice day and then we're in competitions on Tuesday."

The games run from February 25-29. Best of luck to Team Alberta.