Race/PerformanceNordic News

    Canadian Cross-Country Ski Athletes to Benefit from Unique Early Season Snow Project at Canmore Nordic Centre

    Canada's elite Nordic athletes will gain early-season snow access at their home training center thanks to an innovative project that stock-piles snow at the Canmore Nordic Centre. The project, coined Frozen Thunder, is kicking off in sync with Cross Country Canada's naming of its 2011-12 National Ski Team.

    In an effort to provide Canada's Nordic athletes with the ability to train on snow at home in October, the Frozen Thunder initiative stored enough snow last spring to cover three kilometers of trail in a large pile under a thick layer of sawdust, used to insulate it during the summer months. The Canmore Nordic Centre, which is the first facility in North America to take on the initiative, became the first Nordic venue on the continent to open (October 15) for training and recreational enjoyment.

    "This project represents a multi-year effort to give our Nordic athletes access to cost-effective, early season on-snow training for a leading edge at home. We believe this will play a critical role in boosting Canadian athletes to podium and personal best results," said Michael Roycroft, area manager, Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park. "We believe this investment complements the more than $30 million the Government of Alberta, WinSport Canada and Own the Podium have invested into facilities and resources at the Canmore Nordic Centre over the last six years to ensure the site is at current world standards that will continue to help the nation's cross-country skiers achieve record results."

    Modeled after similar snow preservation projects in Europe, Frozen Thunder was originally piloted in 2009 with 400-meters of groomed ski trail. Last year, the Nordic Centre expanded the terrain to a one-kilometer loop. Athletes will now have access to three kilometers of solid snow terrain.

    "Having the ability to train, on snow and at home, not only provides a cost-effective alternative for our program that has traditionally seen athletes sent to Europe for early-season training, but it will help ensure our athletes are fully rested and prepared to compete at an elite level when the World Cup season starts in November," said Tom Holland, high-performance director, Cross Country Canada. "The Europeans have always had an advantage on us with early on-snow training. This is a great addition to our national training center, which is very important for the development and preparation of the National Ski Team."

    The 2011 opening of Frozen Thunder falls in conjunction with Cross Country Canada unveiling its 2011-12 National Ski Team led by World Championship gold medalists, Devon Kershaw and Alex Harvey. The Canadian duo shocked the world to win the team sprint in Oslo, Norway last February.

    Canada will field a squad of four men and two women on the World Cup Team this year including:
    Alex Harvey (St.-Ferreol, Que.); Devon Kershaw (Sudbury, Ont.); Ivan Babikov (Canmore, Alta.); Len Valjas (Toronto); Chandra Crawford (Canmore, Alta.); and Perianne Jones (Almonte, Ont.). Daria Gaiazova (Banff, Alta.) will also compete on the World Cup circuit this year as a member of Canada's senior team.

    Eight men and two women will make up Cross Country Canada's Senior Development Team.

    Brent McMurtry (Calgary); Drew Goldsack (Red Deer, Alta.); Graeme Killick (Fort McMurtry, Alta.); Graham Nishikawa (Whitehorse); Frdric Touchette, (St-Ferreol, Que.); Jesse Cockney (Yellowknife); Kevin Sandau (Calgary); and Michael Somppi (Thunder Bay, Ont.).

    Alysson Marshall (Salmon Arm, B.C.) and Emily Nishikawa (Whitehorse).

    A team of seven women and eight men will represent the future of the sport on Canada's junior squad.

    Alex Mahoney (Lethbridge, Alta.); Alexis Turgeon (Gatineau, Que.); Geoffrey Richards (Rossland, B.C.); Martin Schrama (Canmore, Alta.); Sbastien Townsend (Chelsea, Que.); Knute Johnsgaard (Whitehorse); Raphal Couturier (Levis, Que.); and Zach Holland (Canmore, Alta.).

    Camille Pepin (Contrecoeur, Que.); Janelle Greer (Whitehorse); Dahria Beatty (Whitehorse); Michelle Workun-Hill (Chelsea, Que.); Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (Morin Heights, Que.); Maya Macissac-Jones (Athabasca, Alta.); and Rebecca Reid (Rossland, B.C.).

    "These athletes represent one of the most talented groups of cross-country skiers at all levels that the country has ever produced," said Tom Holland. "This team has achieved great success in the competitive culture of excellence we have created at Cross Country Canada, having won medals at national championships, NorAms, Canada Winter Games, World Cups, World Championships and the Olympics. Depth is key to any podium attack, and Canada is well positioned to continue this success well into the future."

    With the best season in the history of the national program behind them, Devon Kershaw, Chandra Crawford and Perianne Jones leave for Europe on November 1. Alex Harvey and Len Valjas will join the team on November 5, while Ivan Babikov departs for the World Cup on November 8. Athletes will participate in a week long training camp prior to the start of the World Cup circuit in Beitostolen, Norway November 19-20. The team will hit the start line for a FIS race in Bruksvallarna, Sweden, November 11-13.

    The remaining athletes will train at the Canmore Nordic Centre, and chase snow across the country before the start of the Haywood NorAm and Teck Sprint Series circuit at Sovereign Lake near Vernon, B.C., December 11-12.

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