Paragliders love flying in Pemberton, so for the second time in three years, the Canadian Paragliding Nationals are coming to town.
Competition runs from July 21 to 27, with July 20 reserved as a practice and meeting day.
Organizer Guy Herrington of Sea to Sky Paragliding recently returned from the American nationals in Chelan, Wash. and the relatively close proximity and timing of the two events means numerous competitors are making sure to do both competitions. Herrington said registration for the Canadian competition's 120 spots sold out in 10 days and attracted not only athletes from all across Canada and the U.S., but countries such as Taiwan, Japan, Czechia, Australia, New Zealand, Nepal, and the Philippines.
Herrington noted that more Americans registered than any other nationality, which he attributes to strength of the sport in Washington state and Oregon.
"We're quite familiar with one another. They were up here back in 2017, and we got a really good review from them because we had a really good event," he said.
In addition to bringing back top Canadian athletes such as Brett Hazlett, Nicole McLearn and Igor Tolsky, who earned the top titles in 2017, attracting high-level American athletes such as Mitch Riley was a boon for the event, Herrington said.
"I've been trying to host it every two years. If it really starts to work, we might even start to do it yearly because there certainly seems to be demand for it," he said. "We have some really big name pilots coming, so that's going to make the comp even more fixed in the circuit.
"There are a lot of great pilots coming, so we're super stoked—there's the regular cast of suspects from the local pilots. I wish I could fly in it myself."
During the competition, the paragliders will hit various waypoints en route to an end goal.
"You're looking at tasks ranging up to about 120 kilometres ranging between Mount Meager and Lillooet Lake," he said.
The event headquarters is again hosted at the Black Squirrel Restaurant at the Meadows at Pemberton with a secondary locale at The Beer Farmers at Miller Farm out in Pemberton Meadows. While some goal sites might be difficult for spectators to reach, Herrington hopes to have at least one finish at each of those locations. He added that Black Squirrel was a proposed site in 2017, but on the day of competition, the wind was unfavourable and so organizers used a different finish site instead.
Herrington said that he appreciates Pemberton's support, and that he and the other organizers plan ahead to respect first responders' efforts by being as self-sufficient as possible.
"The community really rallied around us. The Village of Pemberton and the SLRD [Squamish-Lillooet Regional District], of course they made sure we had our T's crossed and our I's dotted for safety," Herrington said. "We produced a really good safety plan and we've talked to all the emergency services and we're always communicating all the time to make sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible."
Check out canadiannationalspg.weebly.com/ for more information.