Skip to content

EDITORIAL: Athletics defining aspect of valley communities

The Bow Valley has much to be proud of in the community. Their commitment to the environment and wildlife, the scenic views at every turn and a vibrant passion for the community are just some of what people can point to and feel a sense of satisfaction.

The Bow Valley has much to be proud of in the community.

Our commitment to the environment and wildlife, the scenic views at every turn and a vibrant passion for the community are just some of what people can point to and feel a sense of satisfaction.

But one of the oft forgotten aspects is the local, national and international prowess of local residents when it comes to athletics as well as the importance of the area in training some of the best athletes in Canada.

Not only is the Bow Valley a central hub for top level athletes in the country, some of whom will soon head to the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in China, but it also houses infrastructure that locals can frequently enjoy.

From four local ski hills – Lake Louise, Sunshine, Norquay and Nakiska –  and two more within relatively short driving distance, the Nordic Centre and trail systems that are the envy of municipalities across the country, there is no shortage of facilities.

A $100,000 grant for the Canmore and Area Mountain Bike Association will see additional improvements to the local trail system, while money earmarked by both the previous NDP provincial government and the UCP government will start showing up to the door of the Nordic Centre.

And with the high-quality infrastructure comes the attractiveness in holding major and significant sporting events.

The top male and female skiers in the world are taking to the hills at Lake Louise Ski Resort for the FIS Ski World Cup that will run until Dec. 4. For two weekends, future Olympians and Paralympians are performing and come from nearly 20 countries across the globe to perform, including Canmore’s Jeff Read.

The Para Nordic Skiing World Cup will take place from Dec. 4-12 at the Nordic Centre, with the best skiers beginning their push for the Paralympics. Among those are Canmore-based Brittany Hudak and Mark Arendz.

Up-and-coming Xavier McKeever – a Canmore local – crushed his competition at the junior cross-country event that was recently held in Sweden and collected three more gold for his growing collection.

The 18-year-old is the son of former Olympians Robin McKeever and Milaine Theriault and the nephew of Paralympic champion Brian McKeever, who is one of Canada’s most accomplished athletes on the international stage.

Canmore local Britt Richardson is the youngest athlete on the Canadian National Ski Team at 18 and has a promising future after earning silver at the North American Cup last week in Colorado.

As a central training spot, it’s not an uncommon sight in the valley for Olympians to be racing up and down streets roller skiing in the summer, keeping themselves prepped for when the snow begins to fall.

Much of that legacy comes from Canmore’s role in hosting events in the 1988 Winter Olympics. In what was once a sleepy mountain town still reeling from the mines closing less than a decade before, the Olympics exposed the community to outsiders on its potential.

Since then, the community has changed and become the home to national teams and its athletes. The 1988 Olympics helped redefine much of the valley as a mountain sport community and brought an active mindset for locals.

In the coming months, Canadians from all walks of life will tune in to see its Olympians and Paralympians attempt to find success.

For Bow Valley residents, some of those athletes will be friends, acquaintances and neighbours.

Regardless of the outcome, it is another feather in the cap for the valley to show pride in.