The Olympic Push is on at Mount Washington
The resort is progressing with its plans of becoming a training centre for Olympic-calibre and emerging Nordic athletes in the years and months ahead of the actual competitions.
At the heart of the Resort’s expansion will be a training centre, with inherent meeting rooms, fitness room, offices and equipment maintenance area, a stadium oval and some sort of building to provide hostel-style accommodations for visiting athletes.
Nordic trails, currently a 55-kilometre groomed system, will increase in the next few years to over 100 kms, according to resort plans. The Resort is already home to a fully-certified biathlon range and this will see some upgrade over the next few years, resort Director of Public Relations Dave Hampshire said.
The first step is to ensure that the existing Nordic terrain is ready for competitions. Earlier this fall the Resort brought in Georgia Manhard, Director with Cross-Country British Columbia, and Don Gardner, a cross-country trail designer based in Calgary. Both are working with B.C.’s Olympic committee in preparing the Callaghan Valley Nordic venue for the 2010 Winter Games in Whistler.
In the mid- to late-80s, Gardner worked on the design for the Canmore trail system for the 1988 Olympics and was a member of the Canadian Nordic Team in the 1960s. As such, he has seen and worked on a huge number of trail systems around the world, Hampshire noted.
Len Apedaile, president of the Strathcona Nordic Ski Club, is actively involved in the training centre planning, too. The club is based on the mountain and many of its home competitions – such as the Vancouver Island Loppet -- attract competitors from around North America.
Don Sharpe, Director of Business Services for Mount Washington, is quick to point out that the Resort has a huge role to play in the events leading up to the 2010 Games.
“We have a lot to offer at the Resort. As well as a world-class infrastructure and training experience, Mount Washington’s Nordic terrain is at virtually the same altitude as Callaghan Valley … and our snow quality is nearly identical.”
This past summer saw the completion of a “stadium” at
the Resort. Although the name may evoke a mental picture of the marshmallow
roof of B.C. Place, “stadium” is actually the start and
finish area that Nordic competitors race around at the beginning and
end of each race, and is used as a vantage point for spectators, media
and logistics personnel.
Mount Washington Alpine Resort and several of the racing clubs on the mountain have formed the Vancouver Island Mountain Sports Society, with the 2010 Games in mind. The new society will provide financial assistance for athletes to attend competitions outside Vancouver Island, in an effort to better themselves in their chosen winter sport.
The first fundraising event for the new society is called Black on White and is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 24, 2004.
(Interesting factoid: Did you know that emerging athletes who will be eligible to compete in the 2010 Games are only in Grade 7 and Grade 8 right now?)