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Canada Games Excitement
By:  David Zylberberg   (2003/02/20)

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Every four years a week of ski races occurs as part of a larger athletic and cultural festival. The Canada Games were created in 1967 in order to celebrate Canadian youth and culture, while promoting national unity and showcasing future athletic stars. The ski races are restricted to skiers born in 1980 or later who have neither competed at the World Championships or received large amounts of Sport Canada funding. In addition, each province is only allowed 5 male and 5 female skiers, so it is set up like a major international event. This year the Games occur in the Campbellton-Bathurst region of New Brunswick from February 22- March 8 with ski races on February 24, 25, 27, 28.

In December I skied fast one weekend and thereby qualified for the Ontario Team at these Games. (See previous article). For me these are a fairly major event, though not the only big event or the event with the best field this year. Yet they become more important due to being the first race I have ever done with national television coverage and large media attention. Also, for many of my competitors this is the most important race of the last few seasons. The importance this event holds for those people should make it more special and increased the motivation of all the competitors. I remember that for a few seasons after the 1999 Canada Winter Games people still talked about their races and the incredible performances of Lee Churchill. Lee was a triple gold medalist on his home soil in Newfoundland.

One major thing about the ski races here is that there can be a large disparity between performances. Since every province is limited to 5 skiers and all are funded, there can be a large disparity between the large and small provinces. I happen to come from a very strong province in which many very fast skiers who were not able to qualify for Canada Games. Mid-size provinces will send a mixture of young skiers and competitive older skiers while some of the small provinces are struggling to find five skiers capable of attending. This should lead to a different sort of field from the ones I am used to on the Continental Cup and National racing circuit. For every one of the skiers though this will be an event to look forward to and hopefully some good memories and experiences for the future.

The races for the men at Canada Games are a 10km Classic Mass Start (February 24), a skate sprint (February 25), a 7.5 km/7.5 km One-Day Pursuit (February 27) and a 4x5 km, 2 legs classic, 2 skate relay (February 28). All of these events are spectator friendly as well as being fast tactical races. This should make for an exciting competition to participate in as well as good television. I understand that the Games are broadcast on CBC, TSN and RDS. Look at the CBC broadcast schedule and TSN broadcast schedule for details.

I will try to provide updates for XC OTTAWA and the web-page throughout the Games.

 
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