The bonanza of race camps

 | January 20, 2013

For most kids the idea of camp sprouts thoughts of swimming, hiking, canoeing and other summery outdoor fun. To the kids who visit Sun Peaks in early November for ski race camp, it’s a whole different program: up before dawn for a run, on the chairlift before 9 a.m., training slalom or GS gates during their team’s time slot on the OSV run, lunch, free skiing, stretching, waxing skis, homework, dinner, bed, and repeat.

Originally built for the Austrian Ski Team as a training facility leading up to the 2010 Olympics, the Nancy Greene International Training Centre, or OSV as it’s named, is now one of the key early season race training locations in North America and a cash calf for the Sun Peaks community.

Sun Peaks Alpine Club head coach and training centre manager Johnny Crichton is ecstatic with the fully booked facility this winter, and sees even bigger things for the future.

“This winter we would probably be looking at well over $500,000 in economic spinoff for the community of Sun Peaks and that’s just me guesstimating what all the teams spend while they’re here, it could be way higher,” says Crichton. “The great work the Sun Peaks slopes guys do early on and the word of mouth in the racing community have really put us on the map as a world-class training centre. I’ve even had to turn some teams away. If we had more snow-making capacity and more training lanes we could probably sell those as well.”

For John Douglas, general manager of Nancy Greene’s Cahilty Lodge, the race camps are key.

“These kids’ racing camps are essential to the start of our season,” says Douglas. “From November 10 on we probably see 500 to 600 room nights which is not only a huge factor economically, but it helps us train our new staff and gets us ready for the busy winter season ahead. (And there’s) also the awareness factor for Sun Peaks, these kids are all future customers as are their parents.”

Local restaurateur Peter Ernst also sees the economic benefits of the training camps.

“The ski camps actually extend our income season by almost a month,” Ernst says. “They allow us to get people into jobs early, train our staff and of course the repeat business to Sun Peaks has a huge value. All of these kids remember Sun Peaks and many will bring their parents back on a vacation. I think that Sun Peaks should develop more training facilities in the future if they can.”

While slopeside hotels and restaurants fit the bill perfectly for most teams that come to train, some choose to support a different sector of the Sun Peaks economy.
The Kelly Vanderbeek Racing Club from Ontario rented a large chalet for their 12 young athletes and two coaches. As head coach Sandy Nattress explains it’s all about the team.

“Having a whole chalet for two weeks just works better for our program, the kids are all together, we do everything as a team and we have more control over after-hours studying, dietary needs, waxing facilities and it really adds to the team dynamic for these young racers on top of having fantastic on-hill facilities at Sun Peaks.”

With good early and late season training space at a premium in North America it looks like Sun Peaks has hit the nail on the head when it comes to training facilities, now comes the questions of resting on success or expanding for the future?