By David F. Rooney
Talk to Julie Matteau for more than five minutes and you can feel her passion for the gruelling sport of ski mountaineering and her hope that Revelstoke’s skiers will support its fundraiser at the Last Drop this Thursday.
“It’s mostly a self-sustaining sport,” she said over a soy latte at Sangha Bean. “We don’t receive any federal or provincial funding so we have to find other sources to help us.”
The national team has 11 members, including Matteau and five other local residents: Melanie Bernier (who came in 16th place as an individual and in 7th place in Andorra when she teamed up with Matteau), Jeff Colvin, Greg Hill, Andrew McNab and Reiner Thoni.
Ski Mountaineering can be “a real pain-fest,” Matteau said.
The sport demands competitors ascend and descend tough, 1,900-metre courses in teams that can be either men or women alone or mixed teams. At the World Championships in Andorra last year Canada fielded a team for the very first time and finished in 14th place out of a field of 23 countries. That’s not bad for a first appearance.
The team wants to do better at the 2011 World Championships but getting to Claut, Italy, in February will be a chore. The team has some logistical support from the Alpine Club of Canada and would love the kind of sponsorship that would take care of their flights to Europe but they’ll have to dig deep into their own pockets and hope for a generous response to their fundraiser at the Last Drop.
The team has put together a decent list of silent auction items, including lift tickets for Revelstoke Mountain Resort, and gear and clothing from local businesses. They’ve also got a terrific band lined up — the ever-popular Rippin’ Rattlers.
You can help send these great athletes to the World Championships. The action starts at 7 pm at the Last Drop on Thursday, December 9. Here are a few photos from the World Championships in Andorra: