By Andrew Mitchell
It started off as a dryland training exercise proposed by a few skiers with the national team and grew into an opportunity to showcase Canada’s Olympic history and future Olympic hopefuls.
From May 23 to June 2, approximately 45 members of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team, including coaches and support staff, will begin an 11-day, 1,000 kilometre cycling journey from Lake Louise to the 2010 Winter Olympic venues in Whistler. The team will be followed by a fleet of vehicles providing moral, physical and material support in the form of a team cook, team physiotherapists and doctors, and a team bike mechanic.
Along the way the team will stop in various communities for cultural and community events, autograph sessions, school visits, and side activities like rafting and karting.
The event is being called the Tour of Champions, and will have its official launch in Calgary on May 23. It will finish in Whistler on June 2.
The primary purpose of the trip is training, but side benefits include the promotion of alpine skiing and the 2010 Winter Games and educating the public about the physical demands of alpine racing.
Athletes taking part include Whistler’s Britt Janyk, Brigitte Acton, Gail Kelly, Emilie Desforges, Anna Goodman, Meg Ryley, Emily Brydon, Sherry Lawrence, Allison Forsyth, Kelly VanderBeek, Erik Guay, Stefan Guay, Francois Bourque, Patrick Biggs, Jean-Philippe Roy, Julien Cousineau, Scott Barrett, Jeffrey Frisch, Jan Hudec, John Kucera, and Manuel Osborne-Paradis.
The group will stop at Jasper, Valemount, Blue River, Kamloops, Cache Creek, Lillooet and Whistler. The longest day ride is from Saskatchewan River Crossing to Jasper for a distance of 153 km along some tough mountain roads.
The next longest section is also no cakewalk, as cyclists finish their trip on the road from Lillooet to Whistler, a distance of 140 km, that takes them over the Duffey Lake Road.