|The New Kids on the Block|
By: Sara Renner
Athletes are migrating to Canmore, and Iím not just talking Nordic. The hills are alive with.... well, the sound of grunting and panting. The squat racks in the weight room are getting serious usage as the heavy hitters of the alpine world move in. Donít be surprised if you drop in for a game of shinny at the Rec center and your hopes of scoring diminish courtesy of the resident NHL defenseman. And as for those cross country skiers, we are multiplying so fast that Canmore is even attracting Olympians from other continents.
Katsuhito Ebisawa, who goes by the name Ebi, hails from Japan and is no stranger to life on the road. He has spent the last five years on the Cross Country World Cup circuit and has placed in the top 15. In Nagano, his relay team had a seventh place finish which was the best Olympic result in Japanís history.
After Nagano, the Japanese team moved permanently to train in Vuokatti, Finland. Because of the large amounts of time spent on an international circuit held exclusively in Europe, they decided it would be better to assimilate into a traditional Nordic environment. They took advantage of coaches within the Finnish Ski system and lived at their training center which offered cross country skiing 12 months of the year in an underground tunnel and a testing facility at their backdoor. The only reminder of their home must have been the sticky rice that they had the cafeteria specially prepare for them.
Ebi needed a change after Salt Lake and had heard good things about Canmore. The move must be working for him because he was seconds away from breaking the uphill time trial record, which is a rollerski race starting from town and ending at Grassi Lakes. Although he is happy with his performance, he is confident that in a month his next attempt will result in a Japanese holding the fastest uphill record.
I met Andrew Ference in the weight room. It was a moderately embarrassing situation because when he told me he was a hockey player I got my birds mixed up and thought he was a Canmore Eagle. Nope - Pittsburgh Penguin. Andrew has played for the Penguins for the last two years and played in 75 games last season. He moved to Canmore this spring with his fiancť, Krista Bradford who just retired from competing internationally as a snowboarder in the halfpipe. They chose to make the Bow Valley home because of the mountains and the active lifestyle and plan to go sea kayaking on the West Coast for their honeymoon. Andrew didnít even mind when it snowed in June.
Ference is looking forward to getting back on the ice and knows what lies ahead of him. ďThe challenge gets bigger as a career progresses. You are always competing for your job and there is a big turnover rate. You have to think about trades and avoiding the minor league.Ē And thatís not even mentioning that come September, the Penguins training camp starts and Andrew and Krista have to leave the mountains and move back to Pittsburgh.
Emily Brydon is newcomer number three. This downhill speedster has a bronze medal and four top ten World Cup results to her credit. Her move to Canmore was just a jumped over the mountain range from Fernie, BC. Although she faced some bad luck the last two seasons with two knee injuries, she is currently back on track and training in Les Deux Alpes, France. She moved to Canmore to train with her fellow alpine teammates, Allison Forsyth and Anna Prchal.
It seems obvious that Canmore has the capability of attracting great athletes from all sports and all locals. As our town continues to grow, make sure you meet your neighbors because you never know who they could be.
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