After 23 years of hosting speed demons from around the globe, the iconic Velocity Challenge speed skiing race at Sun Peaks has come to an abrupt halt for 2012.
What started in the late 1980s as a local speed skiing challenge between B.C. racers grew into an International FIS Speed Ski World Cup event attracting racers from up to 10 countries. For the last nine years the Sun Peaks Velocity Challenge and FIS Speed Ski World Cup held the unique position of being the only speed skiing event in North America.
Local support for the event has always been strong, but this year the event funding hurdle was insurmountable.
“Unfortunately, as with many sporting events around the globe these days, we failed to meet our required funding amounts to host a successful event, and we had to make the very difficult decision to cancel,” explains Adam Earle, organizer and chief of race for the Velocity Challenge and FIS Speed Ski World Cup. “It wasn’t an easy decision, but hosting an international ski race is exactly the same as running a business—if you can’t meet your budget, then you’re out of business. If the cancellation could’ve been avoided, it would’ve been as the Velocity Challenge, for many in the area, is a cornerstone event at Sun Peaks Resort and there are so many volunteers, sponsors, racers and others involved.”
While the 2012 Velocity Challenge and FIS Speed Ski World Cup at Sun Peaks has been shelved for this season that doesn’t diminish the draw this event has on racers from around the world.
Swedish racer Christian Jansson vowed a new course record when the Swedes return to race at Sun Peaks in 2013.
“The Swedish team is really sad to hear that the Sun Peaks race is cancelled this year,” said Jansson. “You should know that the Swedish team thinks that Sun Peaks is a world-class race, we all hope we can come back next year to meet the happy people in Sun Peaks, make new friends for life and ski fast. It’s time for someone to take a new track record on the Headwalls and we all hope we are welcome to try next year.”
Looking forward, Earle is steadfastly positive about the event’s future in coming years.
“When you look at where we started back in the ‘80s, just a small group of locals with shovels trying to build a speed ski track, and fast forward to today where we are only one of eight or so ski resorts around the world with the know-how to host such an event. This speaks volumes about the commitment put forth by our volunteers, our sponsors, Sun Peaks Resort and the whole community of Sun Peaks. After 23 years of success this event is not going to just fade away because of an economic burp like we experienced this year, we are going to regroup and come back bigger and stronger.”