By Andrew Mitchell
Members of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team wrapped up their cycling tour from Lake Louise to Whistler in Creekside on Saturday, covering more than 800 km of roads in nine days on the saddle. The tour was created as a dryland training exercise, but grew into a full-blown promotion for alpine skiing and the national team with almost daily speaking engagements and public appearances along the way.
The team was lucky with weather for the most part, although they did have some rain and even snow through the Rockies.
“One of the biggest things we’ve learned was the commitment of every athlete to our sport,” said Whistler’s Michael Janyk. “As a group we’ve shown that we are willing to put in the time and effort to be the best. We’re here to win and we’ll do anything to achieve podium performances.
“The last stage (Lillooet to Whistler) was probably the hardest. Coming home, we were so close — yet so far — with steep climbs ahead. The first day was also quite challenging mentally to get on the bike and start pedaling as snow was falling in Lake Louise. But it was worth it. We saw some great sights and had a great time in communities we don’t often get to visit, particularly in Jasper and Kamloops.”
Twenty-one members of the national team took part in the ride, while other athletes joined the ride for one or more sections — including para-alpine skiers Matt Hallet and Morgan Perrin.
The 2006-07 season was a record-setting year for the national team with 14 medals and 44 top-10 finishes. This season Canada will also be hosting three World Cup events — the usual Winterstart speed races at Lake Louise, and events at Panorama and Whistler. All three events were confirmed by the International Skiing Federation in setting the calendar for the upcoming year.
Whistler will host women’s downhill and super combined, and men’s super G and giant slalom, from Feb. 21 to 24, 2008.