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City honors Winter Olympics, hosts celebration

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station Captain Justin Diez, left, and City of Santa Clarita Mayor Pro Tem Jason Gibbs and his son, Aiden, 5, take the Olympic torch of the torch relay to open the City of Santa Clarita - Winter Games Celebration at The Cube in Valencia on Saturday, 020522. Dan Watson/The Signal

The Winter Olympics are taking place in China, but the city of Santa Clarita has made the community feel a part of the competition with its celebration on Saturday. 

The city of Santa Clarita began its Olympic celebration with a torch relay starting from Santa Clarita City Hall and finishing at The Cube in Valencia. The torch relay began with city and law enforcement officials carrying the torch to the final destination. 

Along the way, various students from local schools, parents and teachers joined the torch runners and added to the excitement leading into The Cube. 

As the torch neared The Cube, City Council members and SCV Sheriff’s Capt. Justin Diez carried the torch to the finish line. Mayor Pro Tem Jason Gibbs, with the help of his 5-year-old son Aiden, carried the torch with Diez.  

The event featured a speech from Mayor Laurene Weste, who highlighted the excitement planned and the Olympic athletes who call the Santa Clarita Valley their home. 

“Even though this competition is half a world away, The Cube is Southern California’s home for the Winter Games,” Weste said in her speech. 

Weste said the community produces plenty of talented athletes and she felt the Olympic celebration was a positive way to see how the city engages the communities and honors the athletes. 

Additionally, Weste said the event brings people together to support athletes doing their best for their country and community.  

Attendees Brady Elbet, 12, left, and Arseniy Shukin, 10, play box hockey at City of Santa Clarita – Winter Games Celebration at The Cube in Valencia on Saturday, 020522. Dan Watson/The Signal
Attendees play hockey at City of Santa Clarita – Winter Games Celebration at The Cube in Valencia on Saturday, 020522. Dan Watson/The Signal

“This is a community of health, a community that loves nature,” Weste said. “This is a community that loves playing, and being together, and we are unified.” 

The Olympic coverage was shown on big screens outside and inside the venue and will continue until Feb. 20. The event featured skating classes, public skate sessions, curling demonstrations and culminated with a hockey match between the University of California, Los Angeles, and San Diego State University. 

Santa Clarita Communication Specialist Kevin Strauss said the valley had six hometown Olympians at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The community had a positive response showing support to the Summer Olympians, and the city saw the opportunity to highlight the local athletes. 

“It’s just another way for us all to come together in the city and do something that we all love,” Strauss said. “That’s getting outside, recreating, going to sporting events, and just dropping everything else to spend a day together.” 

Strauss said the outdoor and indoor activities allowed for a hybrid event that allowed for the following of COVID-19 protocols.  

The event honored the six Santa Clarita natives who competed in the Tokyo Olympics. Medalists who were unable to attend the event sent over a video of their pride in their achievements and hometowns.  

“I am a two-time Olympian and four-time Olympic medalist,” Abbey Weitzel said in her video. “I just wanted to thank you all for the continuous support and love; it really means so much to all of us athletes.” 

Gibbs was excited for the event, donning custom matching hockey jerseys with the other members of the City Council. He said the Olympics are wonderful for the competitive and unifying aspects. 

Additionally, Gibbs was happy to have his family participate in the activities, mainly because he incorporated his son as a torchbearer. He was happy to put a smile on his son’s face.  

“I hope he learns the importance of being involved in the community,” Gibbs said. “I truly feel that’s what it comes down to, and so many people get lost in the minutiae of the good and the bad, but if you look at the big picture of what the city and community have done; we do wonderful things, and this is just a small piece of it.” 

Saryn Kwon, left, and Alex Gagnon, right, of the Santa Clarita Speed-skating Club race each other for the Speed-skating demonstration during the 2022 Winter Olympic Games Celebration event at The Cube Santa Clarita in Valencia, Calif., on Saturday Feb. 5, 2022. Chris Torres/The Signal

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