Dec 1, 2006 | Marmot, Winter 2006

Paralympic Nordic Event set for Mount Washington

Mount Washington Alpine Resort is ready to host its first-ever International Paralympic Committee World Cup event in March, 2007.

Thanks to grant money raised by the Vancouver Island Mountain Sport Society, a stadium area has been developed for the start/finish area where a Nordic Training Centre will soon be built – in front of Raven Lodge.

The Trails were brought up to international standards, and were certified before the ski season began. These projects represent the first phase in the Training Centre project, said Mount Washington Alpine Resort Director, Business Services Don Sharpe.

The next phase will be to install lighting to the stadium area (which won’t be necessary for the World Cup events, as they will all be completed by 3 p.m. each day). “There’s a lot of new stuff going on,” Sharpe said. A backdrop for the Biathlon Shooting Range was built, and part of the luge track beside Raven Lodge was leveled off.

“The next phase is to find money for a Mountain Centre and an education centre for Strathcona Park,” he said. Sharpe said he is amazed by the number of volunteers that have rallied behind the Resort to host this IPC event.

World Cup committee, led by Mike McLaughlin, was struck to organize transportation, accommodation and other infrastructure. The committee is expecting 23 teams and close to 160 athletes with their accompanying coaches and entourages for the five-day event.

The Comox Valley Spirit of B.C. Committee will delay its annual Spirit Week events so they will run concurrently with the World Cup race, McLaughlin said.

“There’s an energy that surrounds the event,” Sharpe said. “There’s people doing things, there’s lot of activities, different meetings. “I think we’re ready.”

In the meantime, the Resort’s reputation as an elite training centre for Nordic skiers is becoming known overseas.

In September, three members of the Swedish International Olympic Committee toured the Resort and surrounding area to scope out team training locations for the years leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympics.

“They felt that our site and the combination of site technical factors more than met their needs, and that the additional Island attractions, proximity to Whistler were big bonuses,” project manager Len Apedaile said in a news release.

Should the Swedish team decide to train at the Resort, it would mean up to 60 athletes from their national cross-country and biathlon teams would travel here. Sweden’s IOC is also considering bringing its alpine team here, as well.

“With our conditions being so similar to the Olympic Nordic sites in Whistler and Callaghan, plus the fact that we are so close to those centres, the Comox Valley is a highly desirable location for teams,” Apedaile said.

“We will see international teams training for 2010 in the Comox Valley over the next four years, in both summer and the winter. It’s an incredible opportunity for the Valley economically as well as from the media interest this will garner,” he added.

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