ON WINTER, SKIING AND COMMUNITY

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My old Subaru growled when I started it on a cold late-winter morning. An hour earlier I’d growled too, when the alarm rang and I rolled out of bed into the pre-dawn Canmore morning.

It was the kind of morning I’d hoped for – it was snowing.

In my mind’s eye I’d seen the picture – majestic Mount Rundle looming in the background as the sun cut through light snow behind cross country ski racers at the Canmore Nordic Centre. Earlier I’d scouted the right spot for the picture.

But mother nature, as usual, conspired against me.

The snow was heavy and the wind whipped prairie blizzard strong from the southeast. Mount Rundle was gone.

After a short survey of the start/finish area at the Nordic Centre I scurried back to the Subaru for heavier boots and a sheep-skin muff to keep my hands and feet warm.

I’ve always been a bit of a weather contrarian – gleefully extolling the virtues of a cold winter morning to those who prefer more temperate weather.

But this was getting close to my limits.

Back on the race course, I was surrounded by scores – maybe hundreds of other weather contrarians – cross country racers in their skin-tight ski suits ready to race. Fathers raced against sons; mothers against daughters. Several races and a relay were scheduled, plus shorter races for children and teens in the afternoon.

I hope the wise men and women who conceived of the Nordic Centre and brought the ’88 Olympics to Calgary envisioned these types of community events for their world-class facilities. While World Cup and Olympic glory are undoubtedly important, so are these community events – not just for the one-in-a-thousand junior racer who goes on to international glory, but for the sense of community these volunteer-driven events build.

To me, building community is the enduring benefit of building facilities like the Canmore Nordic Centre.

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