BY ASHLEY THOMPSON
The Hants Journal
The 2011 Canada Winter Games may quickly come and go this February, but the venues fit for elite athletes will remain.
For Ski Martock, one of only two Games’ venues outside of the Halifax Regional Municipality, this means local athletes will have the opportunity to hone their skills on trails and halfpipes fit for the pros long after the Games are over.
Andy MacLean, operations manager at Ski Martock, predicts the Annapolis Valley’s ski and snowboarding destination will churn out many more national competitors and Olympic athletes in years to come, thanks to the $4.2 million in upgrades completed to ensure the facility is up to snuff as a 2011 Canada Winter Games venue.
“We’ve always provided young athletes with opportunities, but they’ve always had to leave to take that last step,” says MacLean.
“With the fields of play upgrades, it just means we can provide more to our local athletes.”
Ski Martock is now equipped with advanced snowmaking equipment that allows it to produce several tonnes of powder in just minutes. This, MacLean says, is one of the most significant upgrades that will leave a lasting impact at Ski Martock.
“Our ability to make more snow, faster, is a big deal.”
MacLean says an average season at Ski Martock lasts about 100 days. With a greater snowmaking capacity, he says, he won’t be shocked if ski and snowboard enthusiasts find themselves hitting the slopes more often.
In order to host the national snowboarding competition from Feb. 11 to 27, MacLean says Ski Martock’s 12-foot halfpipe needed a six-foot lift to earn super pipe status.
“That means that (local athletes) are able to train on a pipe that’s more like the pipe that they’d be competing (on) in national and international events,” says MacLean.
“Rather than going away and having to constantly train away, they’ll be able to train locally.”
Cross-country skiers competing at Martock can also expect wider, meticulously-groomed trails. Athletes competing in the biathlon will race to a rifle range constructed especially for them.
MacLean hopes Martock’s playing host to three Canada Games events and close to 300 athletes will encourage people throughout the Valley to learn more about the ski hill that has been operating since 1965.
“A lot of local people don’t know that we are as busy as we are, the number of events that we host or that calibre of athletes that come from (this) place.”
MacLean, an avid snowboarder approaching his 27th season of employment at the ski resort, says two-time Olympic snowboarders Sarah Conrad and Trevor Andrew trained at Martock before moving on to more challenging terrains. In 2007, Alexandra Duckworth, once a budding Martock athlete, won gold at the first Canada Games women’s snowboarding competition.
For MacLean, having the opportunity to watch passionate athletes excel in their respective sports is one of the most exciting aspects of working for a Games venue.
“You’re gonna see young athletes that may continue on. A lot of World Cup athletes and Olympic athletes start their higher-end competitive careers competing in the Canada Games.”
The public is invited to attend all events hosted at Ski Martock, free of charge.