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Prince George to host 2019 World Para Nordic Skiing Championships

With a crowd cheering from the balcony, Len Apedaile (left), head of technical control and officiating for the World Para Nordic Skiing Sport Technical Committee, Kevin Pettersen, chair of the local organizing committee, Chief Dominic Frederick, Prince George-Mackenzie MLA Mike Morris, Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty, Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond, Mayor Lyn Hall, Erica Hummel of Tourism Prince George, and Jim Burbee announce the city is going to host the 2019 World Para Nordic Skiing championships. Bill Phillips photo

It’s no secret that, following the 2015 Canada Winter Games, the city wanted to, and was actively seeking to, host another major sporting event.

The first of what many hope will be several follow-up sporting events is only 795 days away.

The 2019 World Para Nordic Skiing Championship will be held at the Otway Nordic Centre February 15-24, 2019.

Len Apedaile

“Prince George has a long and illustrious history of sports excellence and leadership in the sports of cross-country skiing and biathlon, both in British Columbia and Canada,” said Len Apedaile, Head of Technical Control and Officiating for the World Para Nordic Skiing Sport Technical Committee, in announcing the games Friday morning before about 40 people at Otway. “Prince George has produced a long line of ground-breaking local athletes, coaches, and skiing visionaries such as Niilo Itkonen, John Pettersen and Dave Wood, to name a few, and who have taken local cross country skiing to the highest levels of national and international competition, including several Olympic Winter Games.”

Approximately 140 athletes from over 20 countries will travel to Prince George to compete in Para cross-country skiing and biathlon events. The event will mark the first world championship held in the city of Prince George. The championships are held every two years after the Paralympic Winter Games. The male and female athletes are grouped into three categories for competition … sitting, standing, and visually impaired. They will compete in four cross-country skiing and four biathlon events over 10 days.

“They truly embody the best of Paralympic sport and thee Paralympic movement and I guarantee will astonish and excite the community about the possibilities of Paralympic sport,” said Apedaile.

The games will be held less than a year after the 2018 Paralympic Games in PyeongChang, Korea.

A couple of the driving forces behind getting the event to Prince George is Kevin Pettersen, who is the former president of the Caledonia Nordic Ski Club and now the chair of the local organizing committee, and Jim Burbee.

Pettersen praised the city, who helped prepare the bid and through the Canada Games Host Society creating the infrastructure needed to host such an event.

Kevin Pettersen

“A day like today is definitely music to my ears,” Pettersen said. “… I think that is a real legacy of the Games, the spirit of collaboration that exists within our community … to be able to take those big leaps.”

Pettersen said a lot of work has gone into preparing to host such an event and that even during the 2015 Canada Winter Games the club was looking past those games with host another major event in mind. He added the provincial government, particularly MLAs Shirley Bond and Mike Morris who were present for the announcement, were also extremely helpful.

“I think it showed what we can do when we all work together,” Pettersen said.

Mayor Lyn Hall said the announcement is something the city has worked on for some time, particularly following the 2015 Canada Winter Games.

“This is a big deal for Prince George, a huge deal,” said Mayor Lyn Hall. “Here we are again looking at a world class event in 2019 and we have said for a very long time ‘we have world class venues and we have world class people who can put these events on … It’s absolutely an amazing opportunity for us.”

Over the last three years alone, the city has hosted more than 8,000 athletes involved with competitions at the provincial level or higher. This included the 2015 Canada Winter Games, which attracted nearly 3,300 athletes. The Otway Nordic Centre features 55 kilometres of trails, a world-class biathlon range, and on-site technical facilities.

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