Long reflects on Summer Games 

Phare competes during Week 2 in Winnipeg

click to enlarge PHOTO BY KEVIN BOGETTI-SMITH - Getting it pegged Julia Long had a strong showing at the Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg last week.
  • Photo by Kevin Bogetti-Smith
  • Getting it pegged Julia Long had a strong showing at the Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg last week.

Julia Long came home with not only a medal, but plenty of other keepsakes from her week in Winnipeg.

The Whistler cross-country racer helped Team B.C. to bronze in the team event on Aug. 1, but said the camaraderie from meeting athletes hailing from all over the country was the highlight of her experience at the Canada Summer Games.

"It was pretty amazing. I knew it was different because it was a multisport event so you're able to meet other athletes doing other sports, not just from B.C. but from other provinces," she said.

Long also engaged in the Games tradition of trading pins with other competitors, giving out B.C.-themed pieces and receiving others from across Canada in return.

Long said she also got the chance to check out some of the other sports throughout her trip.

She also enjoyed being part of the opening ceremony, which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended and was headlined by Ontario hitmaker Serena Ryder.

On track at the Bison Butte Mountain Bike Course, Long again appreciated the opportunity for something different as she took the first leg of a relay alongside teammates Lucy Schick and Emily Unterberger.

"It wasn't the main event and it was more of a fun event to do. It was definitely hard as well," she said. "It was cool to win it as a team instead of individually because mountain biking is mostly an individual sport.

"It was kind of a different experience to share that with my two other teammates."

Long, 17, matched up against some older riders early on, but held her own and gave her teammates a chance to come back and medal.

"There was strategy to who went in which order," she said. "I set the pace and it was kind of difficult. Quebec and Ontario were fighting for first and Nova Scotia was in there. But Nova Scotia sent their fastest rider first. I was scared that we wouldn't be able to catch up.

"But my teammates were able to catch up and fill the gap."

Noting the track was man-made, Long was pleasantly surprised with the set-up. Even though the riders traversed the same hill over and over, she still found it enjoyable.

"It was interesting. It was definitely a lot different than I was expecting," she said. "They did a really good job for how flat it was, to build pretty technical terrain when there was pretty much nothing there. It was difficult, in a sense, for me because it was a lot different. I'm more used to natural terrain and steeper stuff. It wasn't super steep, but it was fun."

Long also found the dry prairie heat challenging, placing 10th in the Olympic distance race and 12th in the sprint, an event in which she had hoped to place in the top five. But with temperatures hitting 35 degrees Celsius, it ended up being an insurmountable challenge.

"There was pretty much no shade, so it was a very difficult race, especially for the West Coast people because they're not used to the heat," she said.

Meanwhile, the other local representative, 16-year-old Quinn Phare of Pemberton, paddled to fifth alongside 17-year-old Alexander Demishkevich of Kamloops in the two-man 1,000-metre canoe race on Aug. 7, finishing about 36 seconds behind Quebec, whose competitors are 20 and 19. They then took sixth in the 500-metre race the next day, with two 20-year-old Albertans, Brady Garcia and Gavin Jaeger-Freeborn, taking gold.

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