|Left to right: Sierra Cole, Britt Richardson, Lindsey Vonn, Renee Coe, Cole Richardson|
from Lake Louise Ski Club
World class World Cup at Lake Louise
|Canada's Erik Guay at Lake Louise World Cup (Chris Moseley)|
Lake Louise is a magical place. With a wave of the wintersports' wand, it goes from one lift, three runs in early November to a fully functioning international resort hosting the world’s fastest skiers under the global media spotlight by the end of the month.
|Lake Louise World Cup by Chris Moseley|
|Lake Louise by Paul Zizka/Banff Lake Louise Tourism|
Last weekend it was the men’s opportunity to showcase their skills and earn points for their place at Sochi 2014. And this weekend it's the women who are wowing the awed audiences who gather at the base of the downhill and Super G courses to cheer on their favourite athletes and clamour for autographs afterwards. I’m there, too, reporting on the action and the atmosphere for Dan Egan’s radio show, Edging the Extreme on Saturday.
As well as international cohorts of skiers, team managers, coaches and fans, over 350 volunteers descent upon Lake Louise to help run the annual Winterstart World Cup races.
I recently interviewed Gerry Whittaker, a ski host from Big White who helps out every year at the Lake Louise World Cup, performing the dubious job of sliding the course to flatten out ruts in between the racers' death-defying descents.
The group of volunteers is housed at the Lake Louise Inn http://www.lakelouiseinn.com, a resort with bustling bars, restaurants, suites and spacious family condos circling the central swimming pool and spa area - all just a stone’s throw from the slopes. Competitors and trainers stay at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise with that glorious glacial panorama to help inspire them. Whittaker told me they all congregate at the Chateau for festivities including a Western-themed dinner at the adjacent barn. There is a great party atmosphere among all the volunteers who rekindle long-distance friendships each year and enjoy being part of such a prestigious event. He said he would never miss it and he is also applying to go to Sochi. It’s certainly a great way to be part of the infrastructure rather than merely spectators.
|Canada's John Kucera at Lake Louise World Cup (Chris Moseley)|
Lake Louise is chosen to host the first World Cup races of the competitive season due to its consistent early snow record – the event has never been cancelled there due to lack of snow although the start sometimes gets postponed due to too much! This is the only World Cup outside of Europe to join the ranks of the famous Club 5 Ski Classics, the union of leading alpine ski race organizers. It's also the only event of its kind in Canada and is broadcast to more than 184 million people worldwide. Go to http://www.fis-ski.com/alpine-skiing/ for the latest World Cup results and http://www.lakelouisealpineskiworldcup.com/volunteers.html to volunteer for future events.