MONT-SAINTE-ANNE, QUE. (Aug. 9, 2012) — Canada’s top ski racers as well as some of the nation’s finest young talent are set to benefit from the development of a new National Training Centre at Mont-Sainte-Anne in Quebec.
Ski Quebec Alpin has been awarded a $2,597,860 grant from the Government of Quebec to make the ‘La Bélanger’ piste wider and steeper, in addition to installing state of the art snow making and water injection systems.
The training centre, which will also feature a new building at the summit to allow athletes to warm up and study video, will be made available to all elite Canadian skiers and members of the national team will be able to train there for free.
“Having a dedicated training area will be a massive positive for our teams,” said Paul Kristofic, Alpine Canada’s vice-president of sports.
“When you have a slope where you have control over safety and snow preparation it creates the possibility for really high-level training. I’ve already put it out to my coaches that it’s going to be available and we look forward to being able to make use of it.”
SQA has been working on the project for several years, in partnership with Mont-Sainte-Anne and the Government of Quebec.
“It was part of our 2009-13 strategic plan. It took a while but we got the grant,” said Dan Lavallée, president of SQA. “The piste exists right now but it’s narrow and not too steep. We’re going to widen it to 65 metres and the top is going to be made steeper – to a 30-40% grade. We’re also going to purchase nets and install them on both sides of the 330-feet vertical drop.”
Lavallée said he expects work to be completed and the slope made available to athletes by Dec. 1 at the latest. Nakiska Ski Resort, near Calgary, Alta., is also a national team training centre, but having a facility in the East – which is home to so many national team athletes – will be extremely beneficial, said Lavallée.
“This is really needed,” he said. “We love to go to the West – it’s a great place to be, with amazing skiing – but it is important that our athletes be able to have as normal of a life as possible.
“One of the toughest parts of ski racing is you are skiing year round with minimal time for school, family and friends. The more time you can spend at home, the better. We are excited and happy to work with Mont-Sainte-Anne on this and very thankful to the government of Quebec for providing the funds to make it happen.”
Eight of 28 Canadian Alpine Ski Team members hail from Quebec – including reigning world downhill champion Erik Guay and emerging World Cup star Marie-Michèle Gagnon – and a further five are from Ontario. Alpine Canada’s Nations’ Cup-champion ski cross team and the para-alpine team will also have access to the slope for training.
“It’s awesome they are doing this,” said Gagnon, of Lac-Etchemin, Que. “I used to train on La Bélanger when I was a member of the Skibec team and now, with the changes they are making and the injected snow it will be so much better.
“For the national team it will be very useful in the spring for testing and things like that.”
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