LAKE LOUISE – Many international racers are hopeful the 2022 Lake Louise Alpine World Cup wasn’t the final event at the iconic location.
After the most recent women’s world cup (Dec. 2-4), athletes shared thoughts on Lake Louise, the course, and what the event has meant to their careers.
Perhaps Italy’s Sofia Goggia said it best when it comes to the first stop on the world cup calendar.
“I enjoy everything about Canada. It’s a fairy-tale place,” said Goggia, winner of five gold medals at Lake Louise in the past two seasons.
Starting next season, the women’s speed world cup in Lake Louise will be replaced by the new women’s world cup technical races at Mont-Tremblant, Quebec. The two most likely reasons for this are scheduling and expenses.
The early December women’s world cup in Lake Louise is the only women’s speed event in North America. Whereas in late November, Killington Ski Resort in Vermont hosts a women’s tech event, which is less than 450 kilometres from Mont-Tremblant and perfectly aligns with the current world cup scheduling.
Earlier this year, Alpine Canada Alpin (ACA) took over operations of the world cup in Banff National Park. In an October interview with The Canadian Press, ACA CEO Therese Brisson said that there are high expenses to run the six world cup races (three men, three women) in a national park.
At this time, the men’s world cup in Lake Louise's future is still undecided.
However, losing the local women’s world cup for the foreseeable future has been sobering for some.
“The whole tour loves Lake Louise,” said Marie-Michéle Gagnon.
The Canadian started off the 2022-23 season with an eighth place in super-G, which is her best world cup result at Lake Louise.
“It’s such a great starting place for all of us,” she said. “Early snow, early cold temperatures, so it feels like winter. It’s rare that the race has been cancelled, or if it is cancelled it’s because there’s a lot of snow. I know that they’re talking about getting rid of it, but also Alpine Canada is trying really hard to find a solution.”
Swiss skier Joana Haehlen has competed at “The Lake” for eight seasons and hopes it wasn’t her final dance.
“I would love to come here more,” she said. “I hope it’s not the last time, but there are so many rumours so I think no one really knows, but we’ll see. I enjoyed it a lot.”
Canada’s neighbours to the south have also enjoyed the annual trip to “The Lake”. It’s the location where USA’s most famous skier Lindsey Vonn rose to superstardom.
“We really love Lake Louise, the Americans do,” said Breezy Johnson. “It’s a great winter opener, I think. It’s one of the most reliable places as far as snow and so on. It has been butt-cold this weekend, but setting aside my frozen toes it’s a great spot and I would love to see it come back and I would love to see it stay, but I also think there’s a lot of change in the air with this and Alpine Canada, so we’ll see what happens. We just have to look at the calendar and take the races that we get.”
Switzerland’s Corinne Suter has found lots of success at Lake Louise, winning six medals total, and winning one of each colour to start the 2022-23 speed season.
Suter is perhaps the final gold medallist at a women’s world cup in Lake Louise.
“I always love to come here to Lake Louise because it’s the start of the season and everyone’s a bit excited, nervous and it’s so great to be here,” said the 2022 Olympic gold medallist in downhill. “I love the country, I love Lake Louise. I hope, I really hope, we’re not the last time here.”