In less than two weeks, Whitehorse will be hosting the 2010 Haywood Nationals, the Canadian cross country ski championships.
As I said in my last column, we’re all going to be winners with this event. The Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club has hosted many big events over the last 30 years, but this will be the biggest single event in its history.
The ski club started out as a competitive club and, in its second year in 1981, hosted the World Cup finals.
For the last 15 years, it has been mainly a recreational club, but competition has been, and continues to be, what motivates many of us to improve the facilities, develop coaching and officiating skills, organize and administer programs and to plan events that not only benefit the club but the community as a whole.
The Haywood Nationals has taken a huge effort from the organizing committee. Several committee members — including the co-chairs Claude Chabot and Joan Stanton, and competition secretary, Susan Tinevez — have been planning and organizing for nearly two years.
The culmination of their efforts will see 400 skiers from across the country meeting in Whitehorse for seven days of competition. I’m sure they’ll feel like winners as soon as the first race starts.
The event requires community resources and support. The City of Whitehorse has already helped by dumping clean snow in the stadium, providing space in the Canada Games Centre parking lot, reducing fees for indoor space and so on.
The Yukon government has contributed through the Community Development Fund.
They are all winners because their contributions make it possible for the club to improve the city’s recreational facilities. Big events and excellent facilities attract visitors to Whitehorse and they are introduced to all that our “Wilderness City” has to offer.
Local corporate sponsors, such as Northwestel, ATCO, Ketza, North 60, Air North, High Country Inn, Duncan’s and many others, will help to make the event successful. They’ll also be winners because of the dollars spent by the 400 competitors and their families, coaches and other team officials.
Even the non-competitive, recreational and novice skiers are winners. Through competitions like the Nationals, the club receives funding to purchase new grooming equipment; trail improvements are made that benefit all skiers; and new connectors, safer corners and more loop options are created that make the trails more appealing to all levels of skiers.
Media exposure during major events creates more interest and awareness, which increases the amount of use and that, in turn, generates revenue that enables the club to maintain and improve the facility.
A major event like the Nationals gives us an opportunity to reflect on past winners as well. We tend to forget that we have in our Yukon community some “older” winners: Martha Benjamin of Old Crow was a Canadian champion back in the early 70s. She is now a member of the Yukon Sports Hall of Fame.
Mary Frost, who now lives in Alaska, and Glenna Frost, a Whitehorse resident, were national team skiers who were on or near the podium during the Old Crow/Inuvik glory days of the 60s and 70s.
Jim Boyde, who still skis on the club trails, was a national level coach in those days as well.
More recently, our club has had skiers on the national team and competing at the national championships: Monique Waterreus and Gary Bailie from the late 70s and early 80s; Gerard and Martina Frostad, Lucy Steele, Alain Masson, Amanda Deuling, Robyn Findlater, in the mid to late 80s; and in the last five years, the Nishikawas and Greers.
Many other club skiers have competed at the Nationals over the years.
Even though most of us aren’t motivated by the dream of a gold medal, we may be motivated to race to challenge ourselves, to test our limits, or to test ourselves against our peers.
In that small way, we understand the competitive feeling and get a lot of enjoyment out of watching others compete.
Soon, we will all have the chance to watch the best skiers from across the country as they line up in the ski stadium at Mount Mac for four exciting races.
There is a very good chance that we will see some Yukoners on the podium. We can be very proud of their accomplishments and of our club for hosting the event and making us all winners.
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.