This week’s severe winter storm left dozens of people stranded overnight on the Coquihalla, including a bunch of young athletes on their way to kelowna.
Several teams were on their way to the 2017 Kelowna Ringette Sweetheart Tournament when mother nature had another plan.
“It was terrible. I was up until 2:30 in the morning fielding telephone calls and text messages from people that were stuck 30 kilometres outside of Merritt, who ended up having to spend the night. Some in their vehicles, a few on team buses, it was crazy,” explained tournament organizer Tina Pomponio.
“A lot of the teams made it through, but there were a lot that got stuck in between intermittent closures. We had several teams that left the coast at 11 a.m. yesterday and arrived at 1 p.m. today.”
At one point, Pomponio thought she might have to call off parts of tournament, but everyone came together to make the weekend happen.
“We started this morning, games were played, we had a few hiccups due to intermittent highway closures, but out of the 90 teams just three teams cancelled,” said Pomponio.
“The teams are all showing up now and we are getting back on track.”
Pomponio says she was worried about their safety and concerned kids of all ages were forced to spend the night on a very cold highway. However, despite the headache for parents, she’s told many made the most of it.
“I don’t think it was that bad from the kid’s perspective,” said Pomponio. “When they’re an adult, this is one of the things you’re going to look back on and you’re going to remember it. Yes, as precarious the roads were, they can say they spent the night on the highway. They will remember it forever.
“One of the teams walked away from the highway and played in the snow. They made the best of it.”
The Kelowna Ringette Sweetheart Tournament runs until Sunday throughout the Central Okanagan.
“This year we have 90 teams, eight more than last year. It is the largest amount of teams we’ve had. It is a huge tournament,”explained Pomponio.
“It’s all going, it’s all rolling, there are smiling faces.”