The innovative stock piling of snow project at the Nordic Centre, which was originally piloted in 2009, provides the nation’s cross-country skiing and biathletes with early season on-snow training on more than two-kilometres of solid skiable terrain. The project will now host its first major sprint race for more than 100 Nordic athletes fromCanada and the United States. The inaugural WinSport Frozen Thunder Classic, presented by Buff, will be held on October 26. Qualifying will start at 9 a.m. with the head-to-head heats starting at 10 a.m.
The Canmore Nordic Centre stores snow in the spring in a massive pile under a thick layer of sawdust to insulate it over the summer months. Modeled after snow preservation projects in Europe, the Canmore Nordic Centre was the first to take on the project in North America – and is subsequently the first to open its trails on the continent each year – providing another critical resource for Canada’s high-performance Nordic sports.
“The sprint race is another important element in Frozen Thunder’s delivery of what Canada’s athletes have asked for, and need, in their pursuit of international excellence,” said Michael Roycroft, area manager, Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park. “We believe our athletes deserve the best tools possible to achieve their goals of international leadership. Through the financial backing of the Government of Canada’s commitment to the Own the Podium program, along with WinSport Canada, this multi-year effort complements the more than $30 million these organizations, along with the Government of Alberta, have invested into the facilities and resources at the Canmore Nordic Centre over the last two Olympic cycles to help our Nordic athletes reach their goals.”
Focused on winning more medals at the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Frozen Thunder represents another key initiative in Own the Podium, WinSport Canada, Canadian Sport Centre Calgary and the national sport organization’s continued commitment to building a competitive culture of excellence at the Canmore Nordic Centre, ensuring athletes have the critical resources needed to excel against the world’s best.
Earlier this fall, these samepartners announced the creation of a $1-million Nordic Consortium spearheaded by Own the Podium that brings together sport directors from Cross Country Canada and Biathlon Canada with advisors from Own the Podium, Canadian Sport Centre Calgary, WinSport Canada and the Canmore Nordic Centre to share research and information in an effort to pull more Olympic and Paralympic medals from the Nordic venue.
“There is significant momentum in Canmore that now allows for world-leading, year-round training, in addition to hosting major international competitions, that will be essential to Canada’s success in the Nordic sports well beyond 2014,” said Tom Holland, high-performance director, Cross Country Canada, who added the addition of a specially designed treadmill for Nordic athletes, along with an indoor biathlon rifle lab was the first project unveiled by the Consortium last month. “Frozen Thunder builds on the culture of excellence in Canmore, and provides a cost-effective alternative to our program that has traditionally sent athletes to Europe for early-season training. It is now core to our early-season training program, and keeps our athletes home, rested and fully prepared for the start of the World Cup in November.”
Athletes newly-named to CrossCountry Canada and Biathlon Canada’s World Cup Teams for the criticalpre-Olympic season were the first to ski onto the Frozen Thunder trails lined by dozens of young skiers from the Canmore Nordic Ski Club during a media conference on Friday.
Feeding off of one of the most successful seasons in the organization’s history, Cross Country Canada named an experienced group of seven athletes to its 2012-13 World Cup Team that combined to win an unprecedented 14 medals last year including: Alex Harvey (St-Ferreol les Neiges, Que.); Devon Kershaw (Sudbury, Ont.); Ivan Babikov (Canmore, Alta.); Len Valjas (Toronto); Chandra Crawford (Canmore, Alta.); Dasha Gaiazova (Banff, Alta.); and Perianne Jones (Almonte, Ont.).
The governing body for cross-country skiing in Canada also announced that five athletes, who won a record 21 medals last year, will return to the Para-Nordic Ski Team. Athletes include: Brian McKeever and guide Erik Carleton (Canmore, Alta.); Chris Klebl (Canmore, Alta.); Colette Bourgonje (Saskatoon); and Mark Arendz (Springton, P.E.I.).
Demonstrating theunique sport partnership created in Canada’s Rocky Mountains, Biathlon Canada unveiled its World Cup squad for the first time ever in conjunction with Cross Country Canada. Five athletes who are knocking on the door of the international biathlon podium will wear Canadian colours for the start of the Biathlon World Cup this year. Olympians Jean-Philippe Le Guellec (Shannon, Que.); Megan Imrie (Falcon Lake, Man.); and Zina Kocher (Red Deer, Alta.); will be joined by Scott Perras (Regina); and Nathan Smith (Calgary).
“Our Government is pleased to congratulate the members of the 2013 World Cup Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon teams,” said the Honourable Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport). “Through our record-level support to the Canadian sport system, including the Own the Podium program and national sport organizations, we are working to ensure that Canada keeps up its reputation as a leading sport nation. We look forward to cheering on our athletes on the road to Sochi 2014.”
The trail to Sochi for Cross Country Canada’s World Cup Team moves from the Canmore Nordic Centre to Gaellivare, Sweden for the season-opener, November 24-25. The top cross-country skiers in the world will return to Canada for back-to-back World Cups beginning in Quebec City, December 7-8 before traveling back to the Canmore Nordic Centre for three more races, December 13-16. The Biathlon World Cup kicks off on November 24 in Ostersund, Sweden. Both teams will hit the start line for the Win Sport Frozen Thunder Classic later this month before heading to Europe.