The 2018 Winter Olympics kicked off Feb. 9 in South Korea, but another set of games got underway this week in Lodi.
Vienna Nursing and Rehabilitation Center got in the Olympic spirit by hosting their very own Winter Games for their residents, continuing a tradition that started in 2016 when the center participated in its own rendition of the Summer Olympics.
“We had so much fun doing it and the residents really enjoyed it. The families really enjoyed it, so we wanted to be able to do it again,” Vienna marketing director Jamie Vilinskas said.
The games began Tuesday and will end today. A closing ceremony will be held Friday and the winners of the events will be awarded with either a bronze, silver or gold medals. Residents have already participated in ice hockey and skiing and the curling competition will be held today.
“The skiing they’ve been really, really liking. The hockey took a little bit longer to talk people into it, but once they got out there, they really liked it,” Vilinskas said.
For the skiing competition residents were outfitted in a winter coat, gloves and a helmet and were equipped with ski poles. They used the poles to guide their wheelchairs along the course, which was formed by cones covered in cotton to look like snow.
The hockey event was set up similar to street hockey, with residents split up into teams of three. Participants took shots at whacking the puck past the goalies, who were wearing oven mitts as gloves.
Today’s curling competition should get pretty interesting. Residents will be equipped with Swiffer sweepers that they will use to push an IRobot Roomba vacuum into the target area. The sweepers will act as the curling sticks and the vacuum will act as the stone that they will push across their imaginary sheet of ice.
Vilinskas said it’s important for senior centers to hold such events to keep the residents active and involved.
“The Olympics are going on. We’re seeing it on TV and you want to be involved and keeping up with everything and not cut off and isolated.”
Several residents watched and participated in the skiing on Wednesday afternoon. For 90-year-old Noreen Gallagher, participating in the games has been very nostalgic.
“I worked in New York City for 17 years in Madison Square Garden, and we had hockey there. I was on the hockey team. It brings back a lot of memories.”
Fern Miner, 89, said she really enjoyed the skiing. She won several medals during the center’s Summer Olympics but is not to sure she will be able to keep her winning streak alive.
“I’m not that fast on this (skiing),” she giggled when asked if she thought she’d win anything this time around.
Vance Durnil, 88, was cheered on by his grandchildren and his daughter as he participated in skiing. Durnil said he enjoyed participating in the activity and that it really got his heart pumping. He was proud to announce that he was recently crowned king on Valentine’s Day. He plans to participate in the curling competition today.
Virginia Madden, 87, was just a spectator for the skiing competition but said she wouldn’t mind taking a shot at it.
“In my youth, I was a snow skier, so naturally I would get a kick out of this. I skied and I water skied,” she said.