Velocity turns 21

It’s hard to believe that it was 21 years ago when a group of local Tod Mountain friends and ski racers decided to hold a little known speed skiing race now called the Subaru Velocity Challenge. Little did they realize that their need for speed would one day become the only event of its kind in North America, would be granted FIS World Cup race status and all the fastest skiers in the world would flock to their home ski hill to compete in what is now “the fastest non-motorized sport on earth.” From Mar. 4 to 7, 40 athletes from as many as nine countries will descend on Sun Peaks Resort to compete in the 2010 Subaru Velocity Challenge and FIS World Cup of Speed Skiing presented by Zimmer Autosport.
Original event founder and course record holder (177.21 km/h) Kenny Dale says it’s the local connection to the event that’s kept it a success for so long.

“The event has lasted so long because we have the support of so many in the community; the volunteers and sponsors come back year after year to help make it a successful show. It speaks for itself really when we have the absolute best skiers in the world here competing. As a sportsman, there’s nothing better for me than racing against the best on my home mountain each year.”

Sun Peaks Resort has been a sponsor and supporter of the event each year and look forward to hosting the event again this year.

“It’s really a great show and we’ve always had a great association with the Velocity Challenge,” said Jamie Tattersfield, operations manager for Sun Peaks Resort Corporation. “From a ski resort perspective, it all works. It shows really well, it sets up nicely and it has a fairly low impact on ski operations. It’s a great thing to have and everyone in the company really enjoys having it here.”

To the outsider it might seem that there may be a few loose screws amongst the men and women from around the world that hurl themselves down the icy, steep Headwall Speed Skiing Track, but to the veterans it’s really about the mental game and the challenge.

“It’s really about confidence in your skiing ability.” said Dale. At 46-years-old, this 25 year veteran of the sport shows no signs of slowing down. “I’ll speed ski as long as I’m physically able. To me it’s the purest form of ski racing, going as fast as you can on whatever course you’re racing on.”

Calling the sport of speed skiing addictive is an understatement if you talk to Velocity Challenge veteran and Sun Peaks local Don Gagnon. Gagnon will compete in his 21st Velocity Challenge this year. “It’s all about the rush of the speed. I love seeing how fast I can really go on skis,” said Gagnon with a chuckle.

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