February 15 to 21: Three local cross-country ski challenges
This winter, the Outaouais is all about cross-country skiing. Besides being one of the country’s top cross-country ski destinations, our beautiful region is hosting three major international ski events this year. That’s why this week I’m encouraging you to hop on your skis (or rent a pair at Sport Échange Outaouais) and head out to explore the hundreds of kilometres of cross-country trails throughout the region. Like me, you’ll surely catch the bug and want to sign up for one of the ski events coming up in the next few weeks.
Canadian Ski Marathon
The 50th annual Canadian Ski Marathon (CSM) takes place February 20 and 21, on a trail that is groomed only once per year, between the Buckingham sector of Gatineau and the municipality of Lachute. Did you know that the CSM is North America’s longest and oldest Nordic ski tour? Skiers of all abilities are welcome to ski one or several sections, up to a total of 10 sections and 160 km. Experienced skiers in the Coureurs des Bois Gold category ski the entire distance in the two days, while carrying a backpack containing all the necessities for overnight camping.
On February 27 and 28, thousands of skiers from across the region and from some 20 countries around the world will gather in Gatineau for Canada’s biggest international cross-country ski event. The Gatineau Loppet features eight races for different levels of skiers, both classic (2K family race, 5, 15, 27 and 51K) and freestyle (10, 27 and 51K), as well as snowshoe races (2.5, 5 and 10K). New this year are two fat bike races (5 and 10K). Strap on your skis and challenge yourself on the trails in beautiful Gatineau Park.
Ski Tour Canada 2016
For the first time in history, the world’s top athletes will meet in Canada for Ski Tour Canada 2016, the most prestigious multi-stage ski competition of the year. Their goal: to win the Tour and take home the coveted FIS World Cup Crystal Globe award! On March 1, Gatineau will host the first of the Tour’s eight stages, the sprint (free technique), in Jacques-Cartier Park. Here’s your chance to cheer on the world’s top skiers in action, absolutely free! A family area will be set up on the site to welcome fans of all ages.
As for me, this year my colleague Geneviève and I have signed up for the Canadian Ski Marathon. Our goal is to ski one section per day and cover a total distance of about 35 km. At this time last year, Geneviève was participating in the Gatineau Loppet, at temperatures hovering around –37. Click here to read all about it!
Which cross-country ski challenge will you try this year?