Canada’s Para-Nordic team trains for Beijing 2022 near Penticton – Keremeos Review
There’s a reason Canada‘s Paralympic Nordic Team is currently training for Beijing 2022 at the Nickel Plate Nordic Center near Penticton — the site’s elevation is the same as where the team will compete in China in March.
But for the center’s executive director, Tricia Wilson, it’s much more than that.
It has to do with the pride she has in her center and where the country’s Paralympic team came from – Canmore, Alta.
“They’re all my friends from Canmore,” she explained. “I just want to share this place (Nickel Plate Nordic Centre). We are a small club that not many people know about and I just want the world to know that.
Wilson came to the South Okanagan from Canmore and has since found herself managing the ski hill 45 minutes southwest of Penticton above Apex Mountain Resort. His connection to Canmore allowed him to develop friendships with the coaches of the Para-Nordic team.
That’s why the team’s arrival in Beijing on Feb. 1 couldn’t have made Wilson any happier.
“Our elevation is excellent and we have one of the longest ski seasons in the Western Hemisphere,” she said when asked what makes Nickel Plate Nordic Center an attractive destination for the Paralympic team. “We have a good variety of green and blue trails, but we also have these nice longer outer loops that make it feel like you’re on an adventure.
“But also the people… the people here are amazing. We have a core of volunteers and members who make this a comfortable place.
For the rest of the week, Canada’s Para-Nordic team will prepare for the 2022 Paralympic Games.
Although the team has only been training in the South Okanagan for a few days, Canadian coaches are already praising the location of the ski resort.
“We’re at 1,800 meters here and we need to be at a similar altitude for what the Beijing Paralympic courses will be like,” said Team Canada Para-Nordic Head Coach Robin McKeever. “Coming to ski in an area near these altitudes is very hard to find in Canada, there are really only a few places (like this).”
Among those athletes who train at Nickel Plate is one of Canada’s most successful Olympians, Brian McKeever.
He is the country’s most decorated winter Paralympian with 17 medals including 13 gold and is one of the best visually impaired cross-country skiers in the world.
Beijing 2022 will be McKeever’s sixth Paralympic Winter Games and he will once again be in the medal hunt.
The team leaves for Beijing on February 25 and will have “six or seven days in the field” before the start of competitions.
Para-Nordic athletes representing Canada on the world stage will compete in cross-country skiing and biathlon events.
McKeever’s hope is that his team will come away with more medals.
READ MORE: Salmon Arm sniper Natalie Wilkie wins silver in biathlon at Para-Nordic World Cup