Ten Saskatchewan athletes braved snow and wind to bear the Canada Winter Games torch across the Bridge City on Saturday as part of the torch’s first pre-games national tour.

“One of the founding principles for the Canada Games movement is unity through sport,” said Mélanie Paré, official language coordinator for the 2019 Canada Winter Games.

“It’s just a different way of representing what the Canada Games tries to do across the nation with youth and sport.”

For torch bearer Madison Johnson, carrying the flame symbolizes being one step closer to her dream of winning gold at the Canada Winter Games.

“Just the excitement and being able to carry that torch and realize that I’m almost one step closer to my goal is pretty exciting, and that washes away the cold and the snow,” she said.

Johnson started curling at just nine years old. After winning silver at the 2017 Saskatchewan Winter Games, she set her sights on gold at this year’s national games in Red Deer.

“I’ve been training for the last four years with my team,” she said.

“It is very nerve-racking and lots of pressure, but it’s also very exciting, and knowing that I’ve come a long way in this sport and being able to share this with my family and friends is very exciting.”

The torch was carried from downtown to Merlis Belsher Place. Saskatoon was the 16th community stop out of 48 stops, before the torch finds its way to Red Deer on Feb. 15.