COC Photo: Patrice Lapointe

Bravo Quebec City

Quebec City proudly hosted North America’s first urban Cross Country World Cup event this past weekend with great success. The three day event brought in thousands of fans from across the world with people coming as far as France and Norway to witness the historical event.

A 1.5-kilometre skate-ski track was created for the event between Quebec’s Parliament building and the St. Louis gate into the old city. The course and the event drew praise from athletes and spectators alike.

“Quebec City did such a phenomenal job,” said Olympian and World Champion Devon Kershaw. “To have a race venue right in the heart of the city and so close to old Quebec, the plaines and on Parliament…and more importantly the support from the fans. The province of Quebec has the most passionate Cross Country fans and they have their hero Alex (Harvey) here. “

The contingent of Canadians in the field were lead by hometown hero and 2010 Olympian Alex Harvey. Although Harvey would finish 21st individually and fifth with Kershaw in the team sprint, the 24-year-old relished the opportunity to ski in front of a boisterous crowd.

“I loved the course and I loved the fans,” said 2011 world champion Harvey, who added that he is more of a distance racer.  “The city sprints are always tough because they are fast and I just don’t have the speed. It was awesome racing at home. I was really happy to make it into the heats.”

The city received rave reviews from fans, athletes and coaches.

A big impression was left on national team head coach Justin Wadsworth who believes events like this will only spur more young people into joining the sport and in return will develop more skiers in Canada.

“The show that they put on here has been amazing,” said Wadsworth after the competition. “Quebec has done a great job. The organization has been good, the course is great and everything is top notch. It’s actually been one of the better World Cups that we’ve been to. I need to put my hands together for everyone who makes this happen. Canada is really stepping up and giving these kinds of opportunities for the development of athletes and the sport in the country.”

Among those in attendance — as die-hard fans — were 2012 Olympic kayakers Hugues Fournel and Ryan Cochrane. The 200m sprint duo train in Quebec City and took the opportunity to come out and support their fellow Canadian team members
Fournel, originally of Montreal, and Cochrane (Halifax) have adopted the city as their new home and have been embraced by the people and their surroundings.

Fournel said that Quebec’s support of amateur athleticism is always top notch and was on display in full force this past weekend.

“What we find here for amateur sports is amazing,” said Fournel. “Just look at the track and how professional and unbelievable it is. There’s just such a great vibe and the fans are great. It’s such a big sport here in Quebec City. Everyone is just so happy to cheer their favourite athletes. I really hope this isn’t the last event here. We’re putting Quebec on the map around the world.”

Cochrane agreed.

“This event is a big deal and it’s been exciting seeing the progression of it,” said Cochrane.  “It’s been crazy on the streets seeing people from all over the world who have come here. Quebec really takes care of their athletes and they know how to put on a good show.”

As the event was broadcast around the world, millions of people were able to tune in to see the beauty of Quebec and its ability to hold a successful world class event.

“It was very important for the city to hold this kind of event,” said Martial De Rome, president of the organizing committee Québec Winter Sports Events Corporation.  “People around the world know Quebec as a great organizer of events and a great promoter of amateur sports. This was an opportunity to show Quebec off to the world.”

–  George Fadel