Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff Ski cross and snowboard run builder Jeff Ihaksi, right, talks with David Martel, a co-owner of the Canyon Ski Resort.

Olympic ski run designer creates upgrades at Canyon Ski Resort

Jeff Ihaksi says free-style and alpine ski venues are Canada Winter Games-worthy

Olympic ski run designer Jeff Ihaksi is giving Canyon Ski Resort’s upgrades a big thumbs up, saying the “unique” facility is primed to host North American competitions and train national-calibre athletes.

“It’s an awesome resort” that should be more than ready to host freestyle skiing and snowboarding events for the 2019 Canada Winter Games, said Ihaksi. He compares the pitch and quality of the new runs — as well as the resort’s snow-making capacity — to world-class alpine facilities in Ontario.

Ihaksi can envision future national, or even international competitions being held at the Red Deer-area ski resort. He also predicts the facility will become an excellent training ground for local athletes that could vie for a future spot on Team Canada.

“It does expose more youths to the sport,” added the ski venue creator, who noted an athlete from Prince George, B.C. — which also had its ski venues upgraded in preparation for 2015 the Canada Winter Games — is now on the national ski team.

Ihaksi feels there’s something special about Canyon’s close proximity to Red Deer, as well as our “clear, blue skies,” and extended ski season, which comes with the earlier onset of Alberta winters.

Praise from Ihaksi is high praise indeed, since the Whistler, B.C.-area former snowboard-cross competitor has been designing runs around the world since the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy. He’s helped create ski venues at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, as well as the Korean Olympics last winter. His next project will be working for the Beijing Olympics of 2022.

Ihaksi began working on the Canyon upgrades three years ago, initially helping design the new ski-cross run with Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners.

Once a suitable slope was chosen, a lot of tree clearing was carried out largely by hand three years ago, said David Martell, co-owner of Canyon Ski Resort. Some grading was later done to shape the pitch. Now that it’s all covered with snow, Ihaksi is carrying out a final inspection this week.

His past experience as a competitive athlete is credited for helping him get a feel for the kinds of grades and curves that will be appreciated by competitors at the Canada Winter Games.

Ihaksi feels there were no real challenges to creating the new slope in Red Deer — only Martell did have some trouble getting tree clearers who could work on such a steep grade.

The $1.6 million of improvements made to Canyon Ski Resort also include new runs for aerials, moguls, slope-style skiing, big air events and the parallel and giant slalom.

Martell is very excited about these course improvements, saying some of these six new runs will be opened to the public as of Dec. 26.

He added the legacy of the Games means the resort “will not only benefit clubs and teams, but also families and public skiers.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Alberta Premier set to make case directly to Trudeau for more federal action

OTTAWA — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are… Continue reading

Cenovus says capital spending to edge higher in 2020, production to rise

CALGARY — Cenovus Energy Inc. plans to increase its capital spending in… Continue reading

Canada charges Volkswagen over faking car emissions tests

OTTAWA — The Canadian government said Monday that it is charging Volkswagen… Continue reading

Canadian actor aboard cruise ship saw beginning of New Zealand volcano eruption

A Canadian man says he is still “shaky” from the experience of… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Friday The Annual Old-Fashioned Country Christmas is being held Dec. 13 at… Continue reading

Kyle Lowry among celebs to make onstage cameos in ‘The Nutcracker’

Toronto Raptors all-star Kyle Lowry is set to be a pointe guard… Continue reading

Opinion: City’s health-care needs ignored once again

Whether it’s services for those struggling with addictions, or patients who need… Continue reading

Canadians say ‘not enough’ to anti-doping agency sanctions on Russia

The latest sanctions levied against Russia by the World Anti-Doping Agency don’t… Continue reading

Canadian prize juries wrestle with tension between politics and literature

With every literature prize comes some contention over which texts are most… Continue reading

Marie Fredriksson of Swedish pop duo Roxette dies at 61

STOCKHOLM — Marie Fredriksson, the female half of the Swedish pop duo… Continue reading

Eagles rally past Manning, Giants 23-17 in OT

PHILADELPHIA — Eli Manning isn’t done yet. Neither are the Philadelphia Eagles.… Continue reading

Freeland heads to Mexico in effort to finalize new NAFTA revisions

OTTAWA — Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is to meet American and… Continue reading

Most Read