cross-country skier Alex Harvey is a 20-year old whiz on skinny skis, a two-time World Cup medalist who's heading to his first Olympics in 2010. He grew up in St-Ferréol-les-Nieges near Québec City, QC, just down the road from the ski resort of Mont-Ste-Anne. When he was just a tyke skidding along on a sleigh behind his folks (his dad, Pierre, was an Olympic cyclist and skier), he had plenty of time to imprint on his old man's winning technique-not to mention the surrounding scenery of Canada's biggest cross country ski centre where he went on to sharpen up his Nordic skills.
With 208 km (129 mi) of meandering ski trails-wide, groomed, wooded and dotted with warming huts-it's no wonder Mont-Ste-Anne was voted one of GORP'S 10 best Nordic centres in North America. Says Alex about his childhood playground (and one of his current training locales): "...Mont Sainte-Anne (is) a perfect place for a young athlete to develop both cross-country skiing and mountain biking skills."
Planning to snap on your own pair of skinny skis this winter? Check out these other faves:
- Blue Mountain, SK, hosted the 1999 World Cup in cross-country skiing on its 40 km (25 mi) of classic trails (there''s 20 more km-or 12 mi-for those who love skate-skiing).
- The maple forests of Gatineau Park just outside Ottawa, ON are a cross-country Mecca: 185 km (115 mi) of groomed routes to challenge everyone from beginners to veterans of the Canadian Ski Marathon. Every January the park holds a Ski-Fest to introduce newbies free of charge.
- On the east coast, the 40-plus km (25 mi) of circuits at Newfoundland's Blow Me Down Trail wind along a plateau just outside Corner Brook that scores almost five m (16 ft) of snow a year.
- One of the best in Alberta is the Canmore Nordic Centre, a legacy from the 1988 Winter Olympics. There's 70 km (44 mi) of trails for skate and classic skiing with a loop lit up until 9 pm so you can schuss under the stars-or, if you're lucky, under the Northern Lights...
Award-winning, Montréal, QC-based freelance writer and photographer Margo Pfeiff's work has appeared in Lonely Planet guidebooks, Reader's Digest, GEO, enRoute, explore, Canadian Geographic, Outpost, The Walrus, up here, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, National Post and The Globe and Mail. She is working on a book about contemporary life in Nunavut. firstname.lastname@example.org
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