Cross Country Yukon hopes to pave ski trail for off season training

Many of Canada’s top cross-country skiers already come from Whitehorse, but Cross Country Yukon wants to improve the quality of off-season training so more can reach their potential.

Many of Canada’s top cross-country skiers already come from Whitehorse, but Cross Country Yukon wants to improve the quality of off-season training so more can reach their potential.

The sport’s governing body has taken a step towards achieving a decade-long goal of paving a trail for non-winter training through the creation of a sports trust fund to which individuals, businesses, and groups can donate, Cross Country Yukon (CCY) announced last week.

The goal of the Paved Path Project is to pave a five-kilometre loop of trail at the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club at Mount McIntyre over the next two years.

The three-metre wide trail could be used by roller skiers as well as cyclists, joggers and more – with the exception of motorized vehicles – said CCY head coach Alain Masson.

“The paved path would be for everyone to use. It would be very similar to the Millennium Trail along the Yukon River with the additional benefit of being tied into the Canada Games Centre,” said Masson in a news release. “We think it is a great project that will benefit everyone, from the general population to the elite athletes, and will greatly enhance the quality of life for all Yukoners.”

The five-kilometre loop will largely use existing trail, including a section that runs past the club’s chalet and through the “stadium” right next to the Canada Games Centre sports facility.

The project’s construction cost is estimated to run between $900,000 and $1.1 million. CCY plans to apply for government funding to help cover the cost.

“I’m optimistic,” said project spokesperson Kathleen Wood. “If you look at where would be a logical place for another Millennium-type trail where everyone can use it, where do you think it should go? It makes so much sense on different levels.

“The city says they get about 300,000 people using the Millennium Trail every year. And there are about 2,000 people per day who go to the Canada Games Centre.

“So you can start to understand the potential for developing … a more urban trail at the recreational hub of the city, at the Canada Games Centre, and it makes a lot of sense.”

The Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club will host the Haywood Ski Nationals – Canada’s cross-country ski championships – this March. The event will inject as much as a million dollars into the local economy, said CCY.

Three Whitehorse skiers are currently on Cross Country Canada’s eight-person senior development team, including Sochi Olympian Emily Nishikawa.

Paved Path Project donation forms are available at Sport Yukon, the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club and through Cross Country Yukon.

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