What a week! Raymond James Nor Am Cup

Submitted by John Mealey

What a week of high-performance racing at the Raymond James NOR AM Cup at Georgian Peaks, Alpine Ski Club and Osler Bluff Ski Club.  Many of these talented athletes will soon compete on the World Cup circuit.

In order to host the event, we had a top line budget target of $50,000. The largest single cost was the athlete prize purse of $15,000.  After event costs, the net income is being split between the participating clubs and AOA to provide funding to support our developing athletes.  Without the support of these amazing partners, the success of the event would not be possible.

The Peaks kicked it off with clear, calm skies and a track that was perfect; they set a high bar for the other clubs to follow in terms of event execution. On about the sixth gate, as racers hit the first turns on one of the most challenging pitch the racers will face in this season and it became clear that some were not prepared.  In further runs, the athletes adjusted, tamed the slope and rocked it!

At Alpine, the racers enjoyed the largest cash purse of the season with $11,000 being awarded to the top four.  The fans enjoyed the drama of a parallel slalom that came down to the wire.  The jump became a challenge as the athletes pushed their comfort zone in order to be competitive.  Comradery ruled the day as the athletes hugged it out after hard-fought battles. Thanks to Brad King and Jeff Cox, the fans and volunteers enjoyed a massive après race party that was an event highlight for many.

The stage was then set for the final two days of slalom racing at Osler.  The team at Osler came up big, proving just how gracious and accommodating their members truly are. The first race day coincided with the opening day of the club’s racing programs, but Osler never missed a beat and put on two amazing slalom races, with a festive atmosphere to end it on.

Brian & Karen Stemmle (with help from Doug Kirby) kept the crowds rocking for the first three days with colourful commentary and insights.  The timing of the Collingwood Jet’s just prior to the first racer was timed with perfection!  Eugene Trusler (the voice of Osler) assembled the biographies of all the athletes to add personality to the announcing at Osler like a pro. His tireless work did not go unnoticed by the competitors, some of whom personally reached out to him to say thanks.

Inside the ropes were controlled by Peter Dyson (WC FIS TD) and Doug Campbell (FIS TD Commissioner of Canada), along with the club ROC’s who handled the races like the professional they are.  The AOA and ACA staff contributed in all aspects of the event execution and should be congratulated for a job well done.

What stands out the most from the series is the fact that these events were held across three clubs with a very high calibre of racing including international FIS complexities and yet there was not one single issue. The clubs involved truly worked as a “team” as part of a larger event. The Peaks, Alpine and Osler should be proud to be recognized by the International racing community as “elite level race clubs”.

Now for the hard part. What are we going to de about the fact that team USA thoroughly kicked butt, claimed all the hardware and $15,000 in prize money?  Of course, there were some bright spots with developing athletes and it is noted our CAD athletes were mostly Juniors.  Our women’s team is doing very well at the World Cup level currently and some of the athletes that would have been highly competitive are currently injured.  The fact remains that none of the prize money went to CAD athletes and we must do better. I hope our junior racers and coaches took a good look at the kind of offset the courses presented where real turns had to be made. This is a whole new game and I wonder how well our athletes are being prepared for this level?  In order to be competitive at this level, we need to elevate our collective game, both on the development side and also in terms of funding.   Serving USA notice now that taking our podium is not going to be an easy task next time the Nor-Am’s come to Collingwood.  Game on!

On a personal note; it has truly been a privilege for our family to have been asked to Chair the event. It gave us a chance to honour Bob Kirby who was our family patriarch that passed away some six months ago.  This gave us the opportunity to reconnect with the many ski friends who share a common bond for the love of the sport.  The gift presented to our family on the final day was an amazing surprise and we will enjoy our trip to Vail next fall to witness the World Cup races and also take a run on Bobby’s favourite run; Simba.

Love to all. John, Suzy (Kirby) and Jake Mealey. 

 

 

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