Jul 1, 2006 | Marmot, Summer 2006

Paralympic Cup comes to Mount Washington

Mount Washington Alpine Resort will host an International Paralympic Committee World Cup race next winter. The resort was awarded the event in early June, after months of negotiation.

“It is a big deal,” said Len Apedaile, President of the Strathcona Nordics. “It is the top athletes in these sports. It’s a high-level international event and any high-level international event for a community is a big deal. “Short of them approving our final application with some of the finer business details, it’s a go.”

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) race circuits comprise 140 nordic ski and biathlon athletes from between 20 and 23 countries. Not all competitors would be able to make the trip to North America, Apedaile explained – most of the races are based in Europe, and some teams can’t afford to attend races off that continent – but many of them would.

The event would see four Nordic and biathlon events take place over five days. The Mount Washington races would be the final events of the season, meaning not only race winners, but the champions of the entire IPC World Cup series will receive their trophies at a ceremony following the race.

There hasn’t been a Paralympic World Cup in Canada in several years; Quebec was the last province to host such an event, Apedaile said. Apedaile said the development of the Vancouver Island Mountain Sport Centre – of which he is project manager  – and the community co-operation that has surrounded the project from the beginning are the reasons that the IPC event is coming to Mount Washington. That and the fact the Club and the Resort have been slowly phasing in improvements to the Nordic facilities, like new terrain and competition trails.

“We have superb facilities here, so why wouldn’t we attract them? To go into an IPC World Cup right away, before we’re even ready, is an exciting opportunity.”

The event will give the Vancouver Olympic Committee, Cross-Country B.C. and Cross-Country Canada some much-needed experience early in Vancouver’s Olympic process leading up to 2010, he said.

“This becomes an early test event. The fact that we’re having it now … if it was another year or two down the road we wouldn’t be getting it. They would be going into the Callaghan Valley,” he said. Callaghan Valley near Whistler is where the Nordic facilities will be built for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.

The Vancouver Island Mountain Sport Society, now an umbrella organization taking charge of the sport centre development, hopes to attract world-class skiers to its facility in events and practices leading up to the 2010 Olympics.

“Our vision here is to have a facility, a centre of excellence for athletes who are standing on the Olympic podium down the road; 2012, 2014, 2016. There will be homegrown people like Alison Forsyth (a Mount Washington Ski Club alumni) who will be there,” Apedaile said.

“With 2010 coming along, we can do what we dream of doing.”

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