The Olympic Torch has come and gone and we had a chance to share the spirit of the Games during its brief visit.
The Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club wanted the flame to make a short detour along Olympic Trail, which surrounds the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre. The trail celebrates the Yukon’s Olympic history but, unfortunately, our invitation was turned down.
Olympic Trail is where the ski club proudly displays commemorative signs of an amazing number of Olympians who were born or raised in Whitehorse or have chosen Whitehorse as their home.
The trail is officially called the Lucy Steele Olympic Trail to honour Lucy Steele-Masson, the first Yukon cross-country skier to ski in the Olympics. Lucy and fellow Yukoner Jane Vincent competed at the 1992 Games in Albertville, France.
Lucy’s husband, Alain Masson, is one of the few athletes to compete in summer and winter Olympics. Alain competed in cycling at the Los Angeles Games, in 1984, and in cross-country skiing, in Calgary, in 1988.
Other skiing Olympians with signs on the trail are Daniel Hall, who competed at the Special Olympics in Toronto, in 1997, and Owen Munro, our most recent addition, who skied in Boise, Idaho, this year, and won three medals.
You don’t have to be a skier to enjoy the Olympic Trail and to see the signs. Snowshoers are welcome as well as skiers. And in summer, the trail is an easy stroll and all are welcome to use it.
And certainly the signs are not only to commemorate the Olympic achievements of cross-country skiers …
Jim Boyde was a biathlon skier at Grenoble, in 1968, and Jane Isaakson competed in Biathlon at two Olympics: Albertville, in 1992, and Lillehammer, in 1994.
Katherine Hall competed as a figure skater, in Toronto, in 1997.
Less than a year ago, our two most-recent Olympians competed in Beijing: Jeane Lassen, in weightlifting, and Zach Bell, in cycling. All of us were extremely proud of Jeanne and Zach.
The earliest Yukon Olympian known to the ski club was Harvey Reti, who was a boxer in the 1964 Tokyo Games. Harvey’s sign was added two years ago when we became aware of his Olympic history.
Maybe there are other Olympians in our midst who should be recognized on Olympic Trail. At least one has been discovered in the last year: Greg Wiltjer may not be a household name in Whitehorse, but he was born here in 1960 and went on to play basketball for Canada in the 1984 Olympics, which was followed by a long career in basketball in the U.S. and in Europe.
And one has recently moved to Whitehorse. Hilary Lindh, of Juneau, Alaska, has recently moved to Whitehorse with her husband, Jody McCutcheon, and will be coaching skiers at Mount Sima. Hilary was a downhill skier, competing in three Olympics with the US Team. She won silver in ’92 at the Albertville Games.
As far as I know, our Olympic Trail is the only one of its kind in Canada, and I think it’s a shame that our skiers couldn’t carry the Vancouver torch along this two kilometres of history. But we will be watching intently in February with the hope of medals for our cross-country skiers.
In 2006, we watched Becky Scott and Sara Renner win silver in the team sprint; Chandra Crawford, gold in the 1.5-kilometre sprint at Torino, Italy.
We know that Canada can do it!
Mike Gladish is the manager of the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club. Contact him at info@xcskiwhitehorse or 668-4477. Or you can visit the website at www.xcskiwhitehorse.ca.
Ongoing Adult Lessons: Aurora Ski School with Rudy; Performance Ski School with Dan Reimer; Ski Base Ski School with Mike Gladish.
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