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Let it snow: Red Mountain Racers Society nears goal of snow making proposal, athlete's training centre on Red

  - public domain image
— image credit: public domain image

An idea that has been 15 years in the making for the city’s downhill ski racers could finally come to fruition.

The Red Mountain Racers Society is close to realizing the goal of an athlete’s training facility at Red Mountain, but first they must gain approval from city council to obtain water from Star Gulch reservoir for snow making purposes.

The additional snow would ensure early season training, and allow the city to consistently host major races.

And there is a huge demand for pre-season alpine training facilities across North America, said Christine Andison, president of the society.

“Red Mountain Racer athletes currently travel to the United States, Europe, B.C. and Alberta to find early season training venues,” she said. “These venues are crowded and costly and, in many cases, the terrain is inferior to that of Red Mountain's slopes.”

In order to be competitive and to grow the Red Mountain Academies and the Red Mountain Racers program there needs to be access to snow earlier and locally, said Andison.

And to have a successful training facility you must have snowmaking to have the venue ready for athletes in mid November (or earlier, weather permitting).

“The athletes training facility at Red Mountain will provide a training venue for local racers and academy students without additional travel expenses and it will guarantee training space for local athletes,” Andison said.

Opening the mountain for early training is a natural fit for Rossland, she said. With an existing internationally-recognized race venue with fully homologated race courses, the city possesses a strong race culture, and the athlete’s training facility would take advantage of existing attributes including lifts, lodge, academy and slopes.

The request made to council was to enter into a water use agreement between the city and the society for the purposes of establishing an athlete’s training facility at Red Mountain.

The request has a significant history. In October of 2012 the Red Mountain Racers came before council requesting a letter of support to move forward with review and analysis of water supply options, including one of the city’s two existing reservoirs.

Council voted unanimously in favour of a motion to draft a letter of support for the training centre.

The society will then seek to raise approximately $2.1 million to fund the development of the training facility.

The new training facility will bring approximately 5,000 athletes to Rossland in the month of November, as well as several thousand more in late spring for post season training.

The training facility is expected to attract teams from all over North America and Europe to come to the region for early season training, said Andison, including local and regional Paralympic athletes.

“This would translate into direct economic benefits for our region’s accommodation, restaurant and business sectors during what is otherwise known as the shoulder season,” she said.

The project will not only support existing businesses but will assist in the development of new business opportunities. This is a critical component in the creation of a sustainable economy for both Rossland and the region.”

The society seeks to complete the installation of snowmaking infrastructure by Oct. 1, 2014. The new facility would be open by Nov. 20, 2014.

A reply is expected from the city within the next month.

History of the facility

The Red Mountain Racers Society (a registered not-for-profit society) have been working on the development of an athlete’s training facility at Red Mountain since 1998, an initiative started by Brian Fry, Sean Valentine, Donald Stevens, Phil Patterson and a few other racer families.

In 2004 the Racers obtained a $25,000 grant to conduct a feasibility study and to undertake the initial engineering for the project.

In 2005 the study was complete and confirmed that the installation of snowmaking at Red Mountain was feasible.

In October of 2012 the Racers initiated an update of the 2005 study which took into consideration advances in technology and updated the project cost estimate.

Over the past 14 months the Red Mountain Racers have been working with Techno

Alpine to update the 2005 engineering study to reflect advances in snowmaking technology, to review additional water supply options, to complete training facility design and to update the cost estimate.

The review of water supply and demand, both present and future, has determined that there is available raw water capacity in the existing Rossland reservoirs. ISL Engineering has indicated that, “withdraw of raw water from the Star Gulch reservoir for snow making purposes may be considered based on the following conditions:

• Snow making infrastructure be built with capabilities for complete shutdown if Star Gulch reservoir water levels drop below an acceptable elevation;

• A design review of snow making infrastructure be conducted by city staff prior to approving the construction of proposed works; and

• As development progresses, future water demands should be monitored to confirm that actual demands on the system continue to meet the city initiatives for water supply.”

The particulars

The athletes training facility would utilize the Back Trail, Face and T-bar slopes of Red Mountain, the areas traditionally used by the racers for training and race hosting.

The society would own the snowmaking equipment and enter into a long-term operating and maintenance agreement with Red Mountain Resort for the training facility.

The $2.1 million would go toward installing snowmaking on Red Mountain and purchasing the necessary equipment to operate 10 training lanes and a terrain park.

Other improvements to be funded include a multi-purpose building which will provide coaches and athletes a space for meeting and for video analysis, as well as a race and events office.

The proposed snowmaking system would be fully automated and would have sensors which would turn the system off if at any time the reservoir levels went below the elevation predetermined by the city’s engineers.

The slopes would provide approximately 10 training lanes and could accommodate between 100 to 200 athletes per day, said Andison.

“This means we could bring an additional 5,000 people to Rossland during the shoulder seasons of November and April for pre- and post-season training,” she said.

Race hosting capability

In addition to early season training, snowmaking on Red Mountain will ensure that Rossland is able to host races throughout the winter.

“This year we had to cancel the Keurig Cup Technical Race Series scheduled to be held at the end of January due to inadequate snow depth on the race slopes,” said Andison.

The event included four days of racing and two days of training and would have brought approximately 500 people to Rossland for a six-day period.

With the help of Tourism BC and Tourism Rossland the society was able to estimate a race of that nature would bring approximately $450,000 into the community of Rossland.

“Having snowmaking, which creates a reliable base for racing, would allow us to qualify to host more races and higher level races,” said Andison. “Each of these events provides a significant economic benefit to our community. These events also provide our resort municipality with significant exposure on the worldwide stage.”

editor@rosslandnews.com

 

  • Red Mountain is the site of the first World Cup race ever held in Canada.
  • The athletes training facility would create local economic development during the shoulder seasons of November and April.
  • Man made snow is real snow—no additives just raw water.

 

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