This year the Dreadnaught Ski Racing group, along with the Kimberley Alpine team at Kimberley Alpine Resort, will be host to two major events: the FIS Speed Series 2020 and the 2020 Canadian National Championships for World Para Alpine Skiing.
Organizers and long-time volunteers Lloyd Steeves and Donna Briggs are currently preparing the track for a solid month of races.
To gear up for the events, Steeves, Briggs and their dedicated team of volunteers are ensuring the track will be slick and safe for racers.
“Right now we are making snow on Dreadnaught and this cold weather is helping us out a lot, it’s great for snow production,” said Steeves. “Kimberley Alpine Resort really helps us in so many aspects, but especially snow making. Without them, the Dreadnaught races would not be possible.”
The next step is to put up fencing, which is is no easy feat. The Dreadnaught track is over 1.8 kilometres long, and fencing is required from top to bottom on both sides, sometimes doubled or tripled.
“We usually end up with about 5km of fencing,” said Steeves. “It takes about five days, but this year I’m hoping to get it done in three, starting on January 20.”
He says that volunteers from the snow school and the community are always there to help, however the more hands the better.
“If anyone is interested in coming to help out and set up fencing, or help out during the races for that matter, we always need volunteers,” explained Steeves.
He says that the Canadian National Championships will be host to the Canadian Para Alpine Team, along with many teams from the United States. The races run from February 9 to February 13, 2020.
“The races are part of a speed series, meaning racers will be going seriously fast,” said Steeves.
He adds that each athlete will participate in two days of DH (Downhill) training, before competing in one day of DH racing and two days of Super G races. There will be anywhere from 40 to 50 athletes competing in these events.
Currently, the Canadian Para-Alpine team is doing very well, having placed on over a dozen podiums in 2020 already. Some big names from the World Cup team will be in Kimberley over the course of the few weeks including Kurt Oatway, Mac Marcoux, Tristan Rodgers, Alexis Guimond, Mel Pemble, Frederique Turgeon and Alana Ramsay. Two atheletes from the development team will also be in town, Brian Rowland and Sarah Gillies.
The FIS races are always a favourite for organizers and racers alike, because it’s typically an introduction to ski racing for younger athletes. The FIS Speed Race Series runs from January 31 to February 5, 2020.
Steeves says that FIS races are an opportunity for athletes ages 16 and 17 to learn how to go fast.
“The FIS Kids, as we fondly call them, come here to learn downhill, they learn how to go fast,” said Steeves.
He explained that they first participate in a three-day speed camp in which the track is broken up into four separate sections. They ski each section for a day and a half, and then they link the sections together. This way, Steeves says, they learn the track progressively.
“After three days of training, these kids are racing at 100km per hour,” said Steeves. “For many of the 16 year-olds, this will be their first time going that fast or their first time really ski racing.”
Steeves says that is one of the special things about the Dreadnaught.
“The Dreadnaught is wide, it is rare that anyone crashes into the fencing. We also build features for [the racers], and they learn how to get air and how to approach the feature properly,” he said. “The Dreadnaught instills confidence by introducing them to speed. These kids aren’t scared and they have to learn the proper techniques to go fast. They have the support of everyone on the hill, their coaches, and the Dreadnaught itself.”
Another unique part of the FIS Speed Race Series is the nigh slalom event.
“This is a really unique race for FIS kids,” said Steeves. “Very few places are able to offer night slalom at the FIS calibre. A special thanks to RCR for giving up part of the main run to accommodate the night slalom, and thanks to Sandor Rentals. They’re a key sponsor of this event because we have to augment the lighting, which is really a labour of love.”
Steeves also thanked the Dreadnaught’s other sponsors, noting that Dreadnaught now has new gate panels (often called flags), which is a big deal.
“These panels delineate the track. They’re homologated, which means they are manufactured to a very specific standard to make sure they are safe for racing. The entire track has to meet FIS standards and that’s part of mine and Donna’s job. Thanks to Peak Performance for sponsoring that investment.”
Volunteers are needed from now until the end of the racing season. If you’re interested in lending a hand, reach out to the Dreadnaught Ski Racing Facebook Page, or visit the volunteer page at alpinecanada.org. A full schedule of both racing events can be found on the Kimberley Alpine Resort Events page.