Team Canada is off to a gold-medal start at the 2018 Pan-Am canoe championships in Dartmouth.
“We're just coming off of a world championship victory and this is our last doubles event of the year,” said Canadian paddler Katie Vincent. “It was awesome to be able to race here with the home crowd on Lake Banook and to come home with a gold this morning, we're really happy we could do it with the city behind us.”
The championship runs until Sunday and serves as a qualifier for the 2019 Pan-American games in Peru.
“We're about 350 athletes from about 17 countries, so it's very exciting,” said LA Dempster a former Olympian and the 2018 Pan-Am canoe co-chair. “It's a great place to be -- you can feel the energy here, it’s nice.”
New businesses welcoming competitors and their families feel like they've won gold, too.
“For this week, we said, ‘oh we got to staff up because there's definitely going to be a lot more activity,” said cafe owner Danny Martin.
Athletes probably don’t visit too much during the event, but Lake City Cider House owner Poet Comeau has noticed an uptick in business.
“Some of the organizers are all coming in, and officials so we kind of have open arms to welcome everybody who's checking out downtown Dartmouth and some of these new spots,” Comeau said.
While there's excitement about the economic boost this weekend's event will bring, many are also looking ahead to 2022 when Lake Banook will host the world championships, which will bring about 3,500 athletes from 90 different countries to the community.
“My co-chair and I, Chris Keevill, we have a vision long beyond 2022, and we really want to put Dartmouth on the map,” Dempster said. “When people think of where we want to have a world championship, we want Dartmouth to come to mind.”
It’s an opportunity for these business owners to grow and share their local products with the world.
“I think it puts Dartmouth on the global scale when it comes to these events, and our facilities and our race course that we have at Banook is some of the best in the world.”
As Day 1 wrapped up on Thursday, Canada had taken home eight gold medals, six silver and one bronze with the racing set to resume Friday morning.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Suzette Belliveau.