Meet the man behind the Canadian Ski Marathon
“It feels like a big family reunion. It’s not a sport event, it’s a people event.”
A cross-country ski event that brings people together
“There are lots of people who participate in lots of other events and who come from lots of different backgrounds. But two days a year, all those people get together right here.”
When Frédéric Ménard, event manager for the Canadian Ski Marathon (CMS) and high-school phys ed teacher, talks about the Marathon he’s been organizing in Montebello since 2013, he gets goosebumps and his eyes sparkle.
The CSM isn’t a race: there’s no timer, there are no rankings. “You never worry about coming first or last.”
Frédéric Ménard is a fit and active guy, but he’ll be the first to tell you that at 160 km, this cross-country ski event is a major physical challenge, especially for the skiers in the coureurs des bois category. These hardy souls, highly respected CSM veterans, complete the course over two days, spending the night outdoors by a campfire.
It’s all about community
When he took over the leadership of the CSM, the father of three was determined to get the Montebello community on board with the project.
Frédéric quickly realized that very few Montebello residents actually participated in the Marathon. He found it unthinkable to have such a great event so close to home without involving his community.
“When the opportunity to work for the Marathon came up, I set out to find local volunteers and involve the local population. The community needed to take ownership of this event, and promote it.”
The CSM traverses more than 375 private properties, and more than 500 volunteers make it possible for the region to host the 1,600 skiers who gather every year to participate in the longest and oldest cross-country ski tour in North America.
Meet more inspiring local personalities on our Ambassadors page!