River Bend Golf and Recreation Area is getting set to host the Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Cross Country Ski Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 from Jan. 19th to 21st.
“This is our test event for the 2019 Canada Winter Games,” Anita Pimm, marketing and promotions for the event, said. They wanted us to put on a larger event, so our group, Parkland Ski Club as well as Red Deer Nordic, are hosting the event.”
The event will feature over 400 cross-country ski athletes making their way to Central Alberta to have an early test run of the improved trail system and venue developments.
“We didn’t change the trail system, but we modified and did whatever was needed by Canada Winter Games to ensure we put on a good event,” Pimm said.
“That is something the City is very proud of. We have worked with the City to ensure the rail works for naturalists as well.”
She added the organizing group is ready with the trail system and they were making snow for the first time at River Bend in prepation of the event, which will likely draw plenty of spectators.
“They are going to see high-end racers, as well as younger guys,” Pimm said.
“There are series of races every day and they range in age and cateogory,” she said.
Pimm added many of the Olympic athletes who would normally compete in this event will already be Pyeongchang, Korea for the 2018 games.
There will, however, be several Central Alberta athletes competing including Anna Zimmerman with the Alberta Ski Team; Owen Pimm with the Alberta Development team and Alberta Sport Development Center (ASDC) and Ethan McDonald with ASDC.
All these athletes will be competing for a spot in the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer.
Pimm said the event will start on Friday with exciting sprint races.
“The sprints are very fast and are quick races. They run in threes and the top two qualify in each set. They then run the final race later in the day,” she said.
“We also have classic races on Saturday, which tend to be longer in the 15 kilometre range. Spectators are welcome to walk all through the trails as long as they are staying off the runs.”
She added Sunday will feature relay racing, which are races in groups of three.
Pimm is grateful for the hundreds of volunteers for this event, as well as the sponsors.
“We have the national sponsors like Haywood, but we also have local sponsors like Peavey Mart, Fas Gas and Holiday Inn. Peavey Mart has been integral to providing funding for lighting in the area for our skiers.
“Our skiers can now ski at night, which could be 4:30 p.m. in the afternoon.”
If you would like more information about the race, you can log on to the race website.