Trib­ute to Reijo Puiras

Founder of Lappe Ski Cen­tre

SkiTrax - - Out In Front -

On Aug. 4, Reijo Puiras, 65, founder of Lappe Ski Cen­tre in Thun­der Bay, Ont., passed away peace­fully at his home sur­rounded by his lov­ing fam­ily. A for­mer Na­tional team mem­ber and 1976 Olympian of Fin­nish de­scent, Puiras was renowned for his pas­sion and ded­i­ca­tion to the sport of cross-coun­try ski­ing in On­tario and at the na­tional level as well. His low-key style un­der­stated his im­mense con­tri­bu­tions to the sport as a leader who de­vel­oped Thun­der Bay into a ma­jor cross­coun­try-ski area in Canada.

He first pur­chased the land where Lappe’s orig­i­nal 12 kilo­me­tres of trails cur­rently ex­ist (now closer to 30 kilo­me­tres) and built a house and train­ing grounds for per­sonal use. His friends and fel­low skiers came knock­ing to use the trails that range from recre­ational to world­class, and a few years later in 1975, the Cen­tre was born.

The 5,000-square-foot chalet with wax­ing fa­cil­i­ties in­cludes change rooms, show­ers, saunas and a full-ser­vice kitchen where Fin­nish pan­cakes re­main pop­u­lar to this day.

Lappe’s in­cred­i­ble re­sume of event-host­ing un­der Puiras in­cludes stag­ing the 1990 World Ju­nior Tri­als, the 1993 North Amer­i­can Cham­pi­onships, 1991 and 1997 Cana­dian Masters Cham­pi­onships, a Cit­i­zen’s race dur­ing the 1995 Nordic Worlds in Thun­der Bay, the 2000 Cana­dian Ju­niors and the 2006 and 2015 XC Ski Na­tion­als, in­clud­ing this sea­son’s 2018 Cham­pi­onships as well.

Puiras men­tored race or­ga­niz­ers and of­fi­cials over many decades and was in­ducted into the Thun­der Bay Sports Hall of Fame in 1993. He was co-win­ner in 2011 (with Dale Swan­son of the Cross Coun­try Canada) of the Dave Rees Award for long-term out­stand­ing com­mit­ments. His amaz­ing legacy will live on for many years to come.

Puiras is sur­vived by wife Tuija, daugh­ter Su­sanna, son Timo (Becky) and grand­chil­dren Maaritta, Emmi, Kirsti and Luukas.

Sk­i­trax joins the cross-coun­try-ski com­mu­nity across the coun­try in send­ing con­do­lences to Puiras’ fam­ily, friends and col­leagues. - JC

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