Winter sports get underway despite the lack of snow

Winter sports get underway despite the lack of snow

A lack of snow didn't stop winter sports enthusiasts over the weekend, as ski jumpers soared at Canada Olympic Park and cross-country skiiers took their first runs in Canmore. 

Winter arrived at the Canmore Nordic Centre's Frozen Thunder track this week — in the back of some dump trucks.

Snow stored under sawdust through the spring and summer months was once again trucked to the two-kilometre track, which is then groomed for skiing.

It's the fifth year the Nordic Centre has used that method to be able to open so early in the season.

After a hot summer full of roller skiing, junior national team member India McIsaac was happy to be on real skis again.

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"Roller skiing comes close, obviously, but skiing is different and so to be on snow and to be able to get the movement, the technique worked out before the season starts, is really helpful," she said.

Dwayne Ellis has been skiing at the Canmore Nordic Centre for 10 years

"There's more this year than last year, last year was a smaller track to start off, so it's impressive," he said.

Training this early is a positive, but McIsaac admits it's bittersweet to ski next to green grass.

"It's kind of weird for sure, I have mixed emotions about it, too, because I still want to be out hiking and doing all the summer stuff, but then you also want to be on the snow, so it's different," she said.

Ski jumping championships

Ski jumpers were also in action Saturday wrapping up the summer season with the Canadian championships.

After taking top spot on the men's side, Calgarian Mackenzie Boyd-Clowes said he just felt lucky to be able to compete at home as he spends most of the year training and competing in Europe.

"Jumps could have been a little bit further, but it was fun," he said.

Matthew Soukup finished second and Josh Maurer was third.

Boyd-Clowes flew to Europe right after the competition to take part in a week-long ice-track camp in Oberstdorf, Germany before the season starts.

Then from mid-November to next March he'll be training and competing each weekend in Europe, looking to make his third Olympics.

On the women's side, Taylor Henrich was first, Abigail Strate second and Natasha Bodnarchuk third.

Henrich said she has one goal going into the winter season — an Olympic medal.

"It's four years of hard, hard work, every athlete knows that the journey is not easy and now that the Olympics is just around the corner you get all this excitement from all over the country," she said.

"I want to podium. I want one of those medals. I'm going in with an open mind and I'm going to work my butt off."