Photo courtesy Tess Van Straaten

It was a first-place finish for Saanich’s Desiree Grubell in Level 2 and a second place finish for View Royal’s Emily Walzak in Level 3 in Special Olympics figure skating at the BC Winter Games taking place in Kamloops this week.

Walzak and Grubell are among 8 Special Olympics figure skaters from across the province invited to participate in the BC Winter games, along with two Victoria coaches, Tess Van Straaten and Kailee Bowman.

Walzak says it has been fun representing Vancouver Island at the provincial games this week and being on a team with other athletes from other sports:

“I’m happy with my performance. I did the best I could. It’s not always about winning. It’s about doing your best and cheering on your teammates”

Grubell meanwhile, who trains with Walzak at the Oak Bay Figure Skating Club, says she is pleased to have had her performance judged as gold level on her report card.

Region 6 Figure Skating Head Coach Tess Van Straaten says it has been a fantastic experience for her athletes:

“it’s so wonderful to watch our athletes skate their hearts out and have the whole arena cheering for them. Sport is such an incredible opportunity for growth and personal development and our athletes inspire me every single day. This is my second time coaching at the BC Winter Games and it’s been such an honour to do it again and work with athletes and coaches from around the province”

There are over 1500 athletes competing in 19 sports this week in Kamloops. BC Games extended the invitation to Special Olympics athletes from two sports – figure skating and basketball.

Van Straaten and Walzak are available for interviews while they are at the games. Please phone Van Straaten at 250-885-7577.

About Special Olympics BC – Victoria

Special Olympics BC – Victoria is dedicated to providing individuals with intellectual disabilities opportunities to enrich their lives and celebrate personal achievement through positive sport experiences. We provide training and competitive opportunities in a variety of different sports to athletes of all ages and abilities, thanks to the dedicated efforts of our volunteers. For more information, please visit and find us on Facebook and Twitter @sobcvictoria, and Instagram @sobcvictoria.