Panorama first location in Western Canada to host event
By Haley Grinder
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
2022 marked a monumental year for Panorama Mountain Resort— a chance to host the 2022 FIS Alpine Junior World Ski Championships. This happens to be the first time the event was held in Western Canada, boasting the most talented athletes ages 16 to 21 from over 40 different countries.
Running from Tuesday Mar. 1 to Wednesday, Mar. 9, the resort created a scene directly out of a winter wonderland landscape, made possible by over 200 dedicated volunteers and sponsors who readied the momentous occasion for the talented young skiers. Not to mention the contributions from each and every one of Panorama’s 350 staff members before and after the event.
Steve Paccagnan, President and CEO of Panorama Mountain Resort, expressed excitement that this was the first time to host this specific event, but that the resort “has a long history in hosting several Alpine Ski Racing Events such as this, going all the way back to the World Cup in 1985.”
Paccagnan adds, “These events have showcased not only Panorama Resort, but the great community of Invermere and the Columbia Valley. From a community perspective, it demonstrates a tremendous amount of satisfaction and joy knowing that we are able to showcase this part of B.C. and stand ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with some of the major ski resorts around the world.”
Twelve events were held during the championships, spread out over the week to allow athletes time to rest and recuperate before their next run down the mountain.
Tuesday, Mar. 1 and Wednesday, Mar. 2 were reserved for two downhill training sessions to get athletes warmed up and familiar with each twist and turn of the run, as they prepared for what is arguably the most exciting event in alpine ski racing: the Downhill Race, in which the women competed on Mar. 3 and the men competed on Mar. 4. The Super G race was held on Saturday, Mar. 5, followed by the Mixed Team Event on Sunday, Mar. 7.
Giant Slalom and Slalom races concluded the final two days of the ski championships, with men’s heats alternating days with the women’s heats.
Some of the competitors also participated in the recent Beijing Olympics, including Cassidy Gray, local celebrity to the Columbia Valley, and member of team Panorama and the Canadian ski team in the FIS Junior World Ski Championships.
When asked if she felt increased pressure being on her home turf of Panorama, Gray responded with ease, “If anything it’s less pressure, because I feel a little bit more at home, in an environment that I’m way more comfortable in.”
Having her friends and family close by helps with this pressure, though she still acknowledges her desire to perform well — which she does, placing sixth in the Super G race and fifteenth in the Alpine Combined discipline.
As part of the Team Parallel race on Monday, Mar. 7, Gray represented Canada, along with Etienne Mazellier, Justine Lamontagne and Raphaël Lessard, pulling out a victorious first place finish and earning a gold medal against three-time medalist Team Austria in the grand final. Not to mention the Canadians nail-biting win against Italy in the quarter-final by a mere 0.08 seconds.
Gray also raved about the amazing job Panorama did putting the event together, staying refreshingly wholesome despite being an official world champion. “I had no doubts that this would be an awesome event, because they’re just so on it here,” she says, expressing appreciation for how well Panorama staff and volunteers kept up with snow-making, grooming, and organizing, all to allow for a smooth-sailing event.
Panorama Mountain Resort (which is located on the Traditional Territories of the Secwépemc and Ktunaxa Nations and home of the Métis) made sure to acknowledge the roots of the land they raced on in their speeches and official guidebook.
Chief Barb Cote from the Shuswap Indian Band said in their event guide, “The Shuswap Band has a close relationship with Panorama where our community has a program to teach our young ones to ski.” Maybe one day, one of our youth will be able to be a professional athlete just like you,” referencing the 400 best-of-the-best athletes competing at the event.
Gray, who has been skiing since she was about six-years-old— competitively for nearly the same amount of time — also boasted her signature helmet, designed by member of the Shuswap Indian Band, Trinda Cote, with respect to local traditional Indigenous values.
In an interview at the beginning of the 2021/2022 ski season, Gray told the Pioneer that, “One of the reasons I wanted to specifically ask someone from the Band to do it, is because I believe that the community is built on the Indigenous roots. As someone who is a settler on the land, it is important to represent the core pieces and foundation of the amazing place we get to call home.”
She added in that interview that she wears her helmet with the hopes of “show[ing] people where I am from, and how proud I am to be from the valley.” Though she conveniently did not have to travel far for the Junior World Ski Championships as Panorama doubles as home for her.
“This is a really major event for Panorama to be hosting,” says Gray who has been to similar events on the other side of the world, most recently in Beijing for the Olympics for a three-week stretch. “It’s really cool to see this now in our backyard,” Gray adds.
“Panorama Mountain Resort and the Columbia Valley Invermere have demonstrated their ability to come together to share in their passion for youth, sport and this amazing mountain community,” says Paccagnan. “Together we have the ability to host more events such as these into the future!”
For those interested in seeing all results, live streams, and interviews, visit panorama2022.com.