Some of Canada’s top winter athletes have been calling Mount Sima home this month with pre-season training in full swing.
Following the training for the Canadian para-snowboard team earlier in the month, the pre-season favourite has been home to Canada’s alpine snowboard team preparing for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
The team has been training on the snow-filled mountain for the past week, Mt. Sima pre-season project manager Cindy Chandler said, and they will be holding time trial races starting Thursday in order to qualify for the Olympics.
The qualification races officiated by the team coaches will run from Thursday to Saturday, Chandler said.
At the same time, the mountain is set to host their second Canada Cup Series freestyle skiing event after last year’s debut.
“The beauty is we have snow earlier than everyone else, it was such a success last year so we’re hosting again this year,” Chandler said.
The four-day competition Nov. 23-26 will be the first in this season’s Canada Cup Series hosting slopestyle and big air events.
The slopestyle qualifications, in which athletes ski down a course with a variety of obstacles including rails and jumps, will happen on Friday after a training day Thursday with the slopestyle finals set for Saturday.
The big air competition with qualification and finals will be held on Sunday.
This is the first stop of six on Freestyle Canada’s series.
Accommodating all of the training groups with different training elements takes a team, Chandler said. They are led by jump builder Tyler Nichol, who worked in Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics, ensuring all the features are added as required.
“We’re really fortunate to have Tyler Nichol with Transition Industries,” she said. “He builds all of our course features, big air site, triple jump, and rail section.”
On top of the freestyle competition and four alpine training teams, Canadian Olympic snowboarder Max Parrot will be doing a week-long training session on Mt. Sima starting Thursday.
The four-time Winter X Games gold medallist in slopestyle and big air snowboard events competed in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in the slopestyle event where he placed fifth.
Parrot won the 2017 Winter X Games gold medal in the big air event making history by landing the first-ever quad underflip in competition. He also has two X Games silver medals.
Chandler said Mt. Sima is thrilled to welcome the 2018 medal hopeful and he chose to come up to Whitehorse for the week instead of a training session in China.
Parrot will be up on the mountain until Nov. 30.
About 80 athletes are expected to compete in the Canada Cup this weekend in the slopestyle and big air competitions.
Although the mountain isn’t officially open to the public until Dec. 1, supporters are welcome to watch the professional athletes in the first big competition of the season.
Four alpine club teams from Quebec and a team from l’Université de Montréal will also still be training, but Chandler said they have a lot of volunteers through the Yukon Freestyle Ski Association and will make sure everyone is taken care of and fits in the lodge.
“The community steps in, and we pull it off,” she said. “It will be crowded no doubt, but it will be exciting there for the weekend.”