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BC Winter Games medals come on ice, in pool

Tavia Waiz leads Surrey, White Rock athletes with two gold at BC Winter Games
South Surrey’s Tavia Walz gets turned upside down during a dive Friday afternoon at the BC Winter Games.

Prior to the BC Winter Games, diving coach Grant Brehaut said one of his divers, South Surrey’s Tavia Waiz, was a good bet for a gold medal – maybe even two.

Turns out, Brehaut’s prediction was spot on.

Waiz’s medals were far from the only ones nabbed by Fraser Valley athletes over the four-day event, which began last Thursday. Overall, the Valley team topped the medal table with 103 total medals.

The total gave Zone 3 a comfortable lead over runner-up Vancouver-Squamish, which won 77 total medals, including 32 gold.

Waiz, who dove for Zone 3 (Fraser Valley) at the Mission-hosted Games, cruised to a pair of gold medals in the girls ‘B’ division, first winning the one-metre competition Friday afternoon at Langley’s Walnut Grove Community Centre, followed by a second gold, this time on the three-metre board, Saturday.

Friday, Waiz finished the final round of dives with a total score of 285.30, beating silver medalist Kaelyn Burgess of Zone 5 (Vancouver-Squamish) and Lilly Yi (Vancouver-Squamish), who placed third.

In her six final-round dives, Waiz consistently earned the highest marks of the nine-diver field, and capped it with a reverse one-and-a-half, which she said was probably her toughest dive of the day.

“I actually think I did better on that one in the prelims earlier,” she said after receiving her gold medal. “But it’s one I’ve been doing for awhile. I’m comfortable with it... you start backwards, but it doesn’t scare me anymore.”

On Saturday, Waiz completed the sweep, scoring a final-round 282.65, which was more than 40 points better than second-place diver Coral Strugnell of Victoria.

For Waiz, the medals will be added to an ever-growing collection – at the 2012 BC Summer Games, she also struck gold.

“She did great,” said Brehaut, a BC Games alum who was coaching and judging at this year’s event.

Waiz’s teammate – both on the Fraser Valley squad and at the club level with the White Rock Divers – Marjan Aktary added a pair of fourth-place finishes at the Games. Competing in the girls ‘C’ division, the young diver was just off the podium in both the one- and three-metre events. Her top-five finish was made even more impressive considering she was diving hurt – during a training session earlier in the week, she hit her shoulder on the board during a dive.

Other medals were won on ice, as the Fraser Valley’s female hockey team captured gold after an unbeaten run through the competition. Sunday morning in Mission, the Valley team – which features more than a dozen Surrey and White Rock players – edged Zone 4 (Fraser River-Delta) by a 3-2 score in a game that was in doubt until the final buzzer.

Aldergrove’s Alicia Perez put Fraser Valley ahead less than three minutes into the game. Before the first period was over, Priya Sidhu of Surrey and Alexis Kahlert of Maple Ridge upped the difference to 3-0.

Fraser River Delta replied with tallies from Hailee Piendl in the second period and Megan Lai with six minutes remaining. Fraser River Delta then spent the final minute in the Fraser Valley zone, but were unable to force overtime.

“Coming into the tournament, on paper I think we were the favourites to win,” said Fraser Valley head coach Al Wozney. “So a lot of that pressure was on us. The girls really came together in the second game against Vancouver Island. And that shootout win propelled us through the next two games.”

On ice of a different kind, Fraser Valley’s boys curling team – skipped by Cloverdale’s Tyler Tardi – won bronze.

The Tardi rink lost just once, but it was during a semifinal match Saturday, 6-3 against Zone 4’s Brayden Carpenter.

In the bronze game, Team Tardi made short work of Zone 2 (Thompson-Okanagan), winning 9-3 in six ends.

Tardi had a strong start, scoring two in the first end. Then after holding the Zone 2 team to one in the second end, the Cloverdale resident tacked on four points in the third medal for a 6-1 lead after just three ends of play.

“There’s less pressure when you’re not playing for the gold medal,” said Tardi. “The two teams in the final deserve to be there, they were playing very well. Bronze is what we deserved.”

Rounding out medals won on ice, Surrey figure skater Benjamin Mangabat won bronze in the pre-novice men competition.

In gymnastics, Surrey’s Sage Bishop-Beaurone won two gold medals – in uneven bars and vault – and added a bronze all-around medal, while the Valley’s Special Olympics basketball team also picked up a bronze medal. The hoops squad featured Surrey players Scott Laroue, Tracy Payne, Scott Stewart and Jaspreet Warach.

The Zone 3 netball team – which featured Cyrille Butac and Simran Grewal – also added a bronze medal.

– with files from Rick Kupchuk