For many young Lakeland-area skiers, it was the first time they got to compete in real races against those from out of town.
The Kinosoo Blizzards host the Blizzards Blast race on Feb. 12 and 13, which saw 160 racers from across northern Alberta come to Cold Lake for the event.
That included clubs from Fort MacMurray, Rabbit Hill, Snow Valley, and Parkland as well as 5 CADS racers with disabilities.
Volunteer coach Joel Dechaine said after not being able to race last year, it was amazing to see a get-together like this again.
“Our local Blizzards represented very, very well with many top three and top 10 finishes,” said volunteer coach Joel Dechaine. “For a lot of these kids that were at our race, it was their first real race ever, so a lot of experience was gained by our newer members.”
The local club has 42 athletes registered this winter from Cold Lake, Bonnyville and the M.D. In all, the kids had five races in total over the two days, and awards were handed out for each race and age category from 1st to 10th place.
The races and festivities began on Saturday with a F-18 flyover that was well received by the guest teams. All the competitors received a gift bag sponsored by MCS NET that included donated items like Hamels Beef Jerky, military stickers and buttons from the Cold Lake Museum, as well as items donated by the Town of Bonnyville and the City of Cold Lake. The M.D. of Bonnyville also provided racers with the lane space necessary to put on the event.
“We received many thanks and congrats from the attending parents for an amazing weekend for themselves and their children and look forward to next year’s events,” said Dechaine.
He added they are the only team in Alberta that relies fully on volunteer coaches – the Kinosoo Blizzards have 15.
“I think that’s something really cool that separates us from the rest of the alpine world where racing can be expensive. And we keep our fees a lot lower because of the no-paid coaches. But yet our kids seem to do just as well as all the other kids, so I guess we do a good job,” said Dechaine.
“We specialize in being really inclusive and not having to be ultra competitive to be part of the team. If you want to race – race. If you just want to come and practice, then just come and practice and learn. There’s no extra pressure to spend money to travel to Edmonton every weekend or Jasper to compete.”
This weekend, the competitions continue at the Rabbit Hill Regional Race, Saturday and Sunday. The Blizzards will be sending their U14 and U16 athletes to that one.