Day Ski: Can­more Nordic Ski Cen­tre

SkiTrax - - Contents - By Lisa Evans

by Lisa Evans

Orig­i­nally built as the host fa­cil­ity for the 1988 Win­ter Olympic Games Nordic events, the Can­more Nordic Ski Cen­tre has con­tin­ued to of­fer ski­ing to the pub­lic and for com­pet­i­tive and train­ing pur­poses. But main­tain­ing its legacy as a world-class fa­cil­ity has had its chal­lenges and re­wards.

Re­vi­tal­ized for Top-level Com­pe­ti­tions

“Since '88, cross-coun­try ski­ing has evolved and added new dis­ci­plines that re­quire steeper hills and wider trails,” says Michael Roy­croft, area man­ager of the spe­cial­ized fa­cil­i­ties and trails di­vi­sion of Al­berta Parks. In 2005, the Gov­ern­ment of Al­berta rein­vested $25.6 mil­lion in the fa­cil­ity to bring it back up to in­ter­na­tional-com­pe­ti­tion stan­dard by re­vi­tal­iz­ing the Cen­tre's trails and snow-mak­ing ca­pac­ity.

Since the Cen­tre's re­fur­bish­ment, Can­more Nordic Pro­vin­cial Park has hosted five World Cups (in 2005, 2008, 2010, 2012 and the 2013 Par­a­lympic World Cup) and in 2016 is slated to host four more In­ter­na­tional Ski Fed­er­a­tion (FIS) Stage World Cups as part of Ski Tour Canada, along with a round of the IBU (In­ter­na­tional Biathlon Union) World Cup se­ries. In ad­di­tion to these in­ter­na­tional events, the fa­cil­ity hosts more than 40 events and com­pe­ti­tions a year.

World-class Trails and Fa­cil­i­ties

Mak­ing Can­more a world-class fa­cil­ity for com­pet­i­tive ski­ing also ben­e­fits recre­ational users. “What the com­pet­i­tive el­e­ment does is help drive fa­cil­ity in­vest­ment in snow-mak­ing and in trail main­te­nance,” says Roy­croft. With more than 65 kilo­me­tres of groomed trails, Can­more of­fers a broad range of trails that vary in dif­fi­culty, from a sys­tem where top ath­letes in the world train and race on, to a va­ri­ety of recre­ational trails. Roy­croft says ap­prox­i­mately two-thirds of Can­more's trail sys­tems are for recre­ational use, and of­fer great value – an adult day pass costs $15 and a sea­son pass is less than $170 a year. “Where else can you ski at a world-class fa­cil­ity for so lit­tle?” says Roy­croft.

Also sit­u­ated on Can­more Pro­vin­cial Park's land is the Bill War­ren Train­ing Cen­tre. Opened by Win­sport in 1994 us­ing funds left over

from the 1988 Olympics to pro­vide dry-land train­ing and sup­port ser­vices to Canada's Nordic-sport ath­letes, the Cen­tre un­der­went ma­jor ren­o­va­tions and up­grades in 2008 that nearly dou­bled the size of the fa­cil­ity to in­clude the lat­est cut­ting-edge en­vi­ron­ment as well as with of­fice space for Cross Coun­try Canada, the World Cup Academy and the Can­more Nordic Ski Club. “The build­ing plays a ma­jor role in mak­ing Can­more a hot­bed for train­ing and liv­ing for ath­letes who want to pur­sue Nordic sport for ca­reer,” says Mike Nor­ton, man­ager of Can­more op­er­a­tions for Win­sport.

Tap­ping into New Op­por­tu­ni­ties

In 2009, Can­more be­came the first cen­tre in North Amer­ica to launch Frozen Thun­der. Mod­elled af­ter some sim­i­lar ini­tia­tives in Europe, Frozen Thun­der al­lows Can­more's ski sea­son to start in Oc­to­ber. With fund­ing as­sis­tance from Win­sport, the Can­more Nordic Cen­tre stores snow in a ware­house un­der a layer of saw­dust through­out the sum- mer months. The snow is then brought out in the fall to cre­ate up to a two-kilo­me­tre ski track. “In late Oc­to­ber, early Novem­ber, teams from all over the con­ti­nent, if not the world, are try­ing to scope out early snow,” says Nor­ton. Can­more's Frozen Thun­der Clas­sic is one of the first races on the cal­en­dar any­where in the world. “Get­ting an early race un­der the belt and the jit­ters out is a huge ad­van­tage for Canada's Na­tional Team mem­bers,” he added.

This year, Can­more part­nered with a com­mu­nity group of vol­un­teers who built a warm­ing hut ap­prox­i­mately two kilo­me­tres out from the day lodge. The “meadow” hut, which opens in De­cem­ber, pro­vides 1,000 square feet of warm-up space and beau­ti­ful views.

Al­though Can­more's sum­mer pro­gram­ming wasn't top of mind when the Nordic Cen­tre was first de­vel­oped, the Cen­tre be­gan to think about how to make the most out of its land year-round when the trails were re­fur­bished in 2005. “The old adage of `If you build it, they will come' has been true here,” says Roy­croft.

Can­more built a sin­gle­track sys­tem in 2010, and since then, sum­mer use has blos­somed. “Weeknights, park­ing lots are of­ten full, and week­ends, the park­ing lots are al­ways full,” says Roy­croft. In ad­di­tion to win­ter ski­ing, a skat­ing rink, to­bog­gan­ing slope and on­site tub­ing, its sum­mer ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude an 18-hole disc golf course (ranked one of the best in Al­berta) as well as fat bik­ing. Pro­vid­ing a well-rounded port­fo­lio of ac­tiv­i­ties for users has helped Can­more re­tain its sta­tus as a world-class fa­cil­ity. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit­ber­ta­ can­more-nordic-cen­

Ap­prox­i­mately two-thirds of Can­more's trail sys­tems are for recre­ational use, of­fer­ing great value for a world-class fa­cil­ity. The Can­more Nordic Cen­tre along with Win­sport and the Bill War­ren Train­ing Cen­tre are a strate­gic world-class hub for Canada's

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