Final preparations are underway for the upcoming Nordic Junior/U23 World Ski Championships at Whistler Olympic Park.
Squamish is playing a significant role in the event.
The event is slated to occur between Jan. 27 and Feb. 5 and will feature over 500 athletes and 300 support staff from over 35 countries. This will be the first time B.C. has hosted the event in its history.
“This has got unbelievable impacts,” said Squamish’s Rick Smith, president of the Sea to Sky Nordics. Smith is also the ski jumping and nordic combined lead for the Black Tusk Nordic Events Society, the organizing committee for the upcoming event.
“We’re using every [Squamish] restaurant, every hotel, every possible person that knows about nordic,” he said. “This is an alpine corridor in which nordic is growing bit by bit ever since 2008.”
Smith said another huge bonus of hosting an event like this is that it gives local kids opportunities to participate.
“We’ve got about 20 of our kids in the closing ceremonies who are carrying flags and signs for each of the countries,” he said.
And, he continued, “An event like this inspires them like crazy because they’re seeing the world’s best junior athletes.”
One of those inspiring athletes coming to the corridor is ski jumper Alexandria Loutitt, who is originally from Calgary, Alta. Recently turning 19 years old, Loutitt was on Canada’s 2022 Olympic Team that won bronze in the mixed team ski jumping event, which was Canada’s first medal in any Olympic ski jumping event.
And she didn’t stop there.
Loutitt just came off a ski jumping victory at the World Cup event in Zao, Japan, winning gold for the first time in Canadian women’s World Cup history and the first gold in World Cup ski jumping overall since Horst Bulau in 1983.
It’s safe to say Loutitt’s participation gives Canada a leg up in that event.
“We’re favoured to win the women’s ski jump competition,” said Smith.
Smith said plenty of other Canadian athletes would be in the running for top 30 and top 10 positions, and the competitions would be pretty stout.
“We’ve got some great athletes coming out of this area,” he said.
There’s been less snow so far this winter compared to last year, but last year was quite an epic winter, said Smith. Regardless, they expect to be able to run great events, and they’ve even brought in special groomers from Thunder Bay, Ont. and Park City, Utah.
“They’re going to be dedicated to grooming for this particular event,” he said.
Tickets for spectators are $5 per person and free for children under six. There will also be a live-streamed broadcast of the events and ceremonies, which will also be available in Europe.
Whistler Olympic Park will remain open to the public for skiing, snowshoeing and sledding during the event. The Day Lodge will also remain open for food service.
For more information about the event, including ticket purchasing, visit WJC2023.ca.