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Team Alberta bowlers making final preparations for Special Olympics Canada Winter Games

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Twice a week, a team of bowlers hits the lanes at the Bowling Depot in Northeast Calgary training for the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games.

Lori Cornwell has been bowling for 10 years and this is her first national championship

“I am so excited to be going with the best team out there,” said Cornwell. “Winning medals and being with my teammates and making new friends is why I’m going.”

“And partying and rocking like a rock star with all my teammates.”

Some like Cornwell are veteran bowlers, others are newer. This will be the first time Karl Malone has competed in a national final.

“The nationals is going to be like incredible, happy, encouraging, stunning,” said Malone. “If I win the medal I’d be happy about it.”

For some, like Fawn Jager, the draw is simply the game itself

“This will be my first time at nationals,” said Jager. “I’ve gotten so many trophies from it. And I’ve learned a whole lot.”

The Special Olympics are renowned for the way athletes, despite being competitors, also become friends, and for the Team Alberta bowlers that is one of the main reasons they are excited to be at the games.

“I think meeting new friends is important to me,” said Leanne Loewen. “I think the medal is an extra prize to me but meeting new people around the world is more important to me."

Michael Nauss really wants a gold though, just so he can show it off.

“Oh yeah, I really want a medal this year,” said Nauss. “So I can take it to work and show it to my guys at work.”

The team’s coaches are looking forward to the games as much as the athletes.

“It is going to be so much fun for not just the athletes but for us too,” said Team Alberta coach Corinna Cayer.

“If you've been watching them, you can see a little bit of their competitiveness. But the whole concept between all of this is fun, right? We're here to have fun. If we get medals perfect, if we don't, we've met new people, and we've enjoyed each other's company.”

The Special Olympics Canada Winter Games kick off in Calgary on Feb. 27 with opening ceremonies at Stampede Park.

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