The group working to establish a Nordic sports-focused park in Squamish is planning a celebration early next month to showcase its acquisition of a tenure agreement on a parcel of land for the facility.
The Feb. 6 “Light an Olympic Legacy” event, timed to coincide with the opening of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, will include a torch procession from Brennan Park Recreation Centre to the 7.8-hectare (18-acre) site off Raven Drive that will include a biathlon shooting range, a roller-ski trail, year-round ski jumps and other facilities.
For the past two years, the Callaghan Winter Sports Club (CWSC) has been working on planning and securing site approvals for the Legacy Sports Park.
In December, shortly after the District of Squamish approved recreational zoning on the land, B.C.’s Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations granted CWSC tenure on the parcel, with a 30-year lease at a cost of $1, said Rick Smith, who has served as the club’s point man on the park initiative.
This year’s plans for the site include the completion of a 10-station biathlon shooting range in co-operation with the Squamish Rod and Gun Club, the building of a 500-metre, paved roller-ski trail and the erection of a five- to 10-metre training ski jump and an open-walled, covered “pavilion” that can be used for technical briefings for those who visit the park for various types of training, Smith said.
Future plans include expanded roller-ski trails, development of a rock crag on the site into a facility suitable for climbing training, two larger training jumps. Disc golf enthusiasts are also being invited to develop a course as part of the park, Smith said.
In 2011, CWSC secured a $110,000 share of the 2010 Winter Olympic Legacy Fund given to the District of Squamish for the development of such a park. While some have voiced interest in donating to the initiative, CWSC couldn’t actually begin fundraising until it had secured tenure on the land, Smith said.
“We’ve got some organizations that are interested in working with us and we’re very hopeful that we’ll be able to get some more fundraising going and hopefully be able to jump right into our second phase next year,” he said.
“We won’t be going into any debt on this. We’re only going to go as fast and far as our money will take us.”
This year, site developers plan to erect a training ski jump of between five and 10 metres — “the metres is how far a person is able to go in the air,” Smith said. Two future jumps of around 20 metres and between 30 and 35 metres are planned, he said.
On the larger jump, “we could go as high as 40,” Smith said. “That will depend on how the slope handles it. The angle of the down slope determines how long you can jump.”
The jumps are designed to be used all year round, with ceramic in-runs (the part on which the jumpers pick up speed) and out-runs covered with a thatch made of a stringy plastic material that will allow for a smooth, soft landing. A small trickle of water down the in-run will help grease the jumpers’ skids on the in-run, he said.
Once the three jumps are in place, those who are learning to jump at the Squamish facility will have to attend a one-week camp elsewhere — Calgary and Steamboat Springs, Colo., both have intermediate-sized jumps in the 60-metre range — before starting to train on the likes of the 90- and 125-metre hills at Whistler Olympic Park, Smith said.
CWSC also plans to expand the paved trail network in future years, making the Legacy Park an attractive place for training and recreational use by those involved in roller sports as well as for biathlon, jumping and climbing, Smith said. A target range for archery is also part of the plan.
The club plans to begin construction on the trail loop in April and have it, as well as the biathlon range and pavilion, ready for training sometime in May, Smith said.
For information about the park, including how to make a donation to the project, visit www.callaghanwintersportsclub.ca