Details - A pre-Olympic evening with Olympic ski and climate heroes

You’re invited to a thought-provoking evening with Olympians, snow experts and ski professionals in the run-up to the Olympics, the Canadian Ski Marathon and the Gatineau Loppet. Ecology Ottawa is hosting a free event entitled The Future of Snow and Skiing in a Warming World.

WHEN - Wednesday February 5, 2014, 7:30pm to 9:00pm WHERE -  at The Canada Aviation and Space Museum - 11 Aviation Parkway [NEW LOCATION]


[caption id="attachment_2000" align="alignright" width="150"]Sara-n-Thomas Sara Renner & Thomas Grandi[/caption]

You’ll hear from Sara Renner, the four-time Olympian and 2006 silver medallist. Sara has long been an advocate for climate action and with her husband Thomas Grandi led the Canadian alpine and cross country ski team members in going carbon neutral under the banner Play it Cool.

You’ll remember Sara’s medal winning race in which another competitor stepped on her ski pole, breaking it, and in which the coach of the Norwegian team gave her a new pole mid-race. Visa made commercial based on this act of good sportsmanship, you can see that here.

In keeping with the low carbon aims of the event Sara will join us by video link and not fly in from Canmore, Alberta for this 90 minute gathering.


Fellow Olympian Patrick Biggs, the 2004/05 Canadian Slalom Champion and now President of Camp Fortune Ski Club will join Sara on the panel. Patrick recalls what got him involved in Play it Cool:

We do a lot of training on the glaciers. It kind of shocked me how quickly snow can melt. We’d go to these same glaciers and ski, every year we’d come back and there was significantly less snow. They’ve never had snow making on glaciers; it’s a glacier, you don’t need snow making. Nowadays they do have snowmaking equipment which is the only thing that’s keeping some of these [resorts] alive.

Registration -

A University of Waterloo report indicated that skiing in Gatineau Park would be unlikely by 2050. Winters in Ottawa are on average 2°C warmer than 100 years ago according to reports such as the City of Ottawa’s study of watersheds. That document also shows reduced snowfall by more than ½ a metre per winter compared with a century ago. The Waterloo report suggests winter temperatures as high as 12.5°C above historical norms by 2080.

Dr. Stephan Gruber, a scientific expert in mountain environments and permafrost with Carleton University will also be on the panel to enlighten us on the factual background to our changing winters. Dr. Gruber is also a Contributing Author to reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.


Olympic calibre will continue with panelist Dirk Van Wijk who had the role of Chief of Grooming at the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010. Says Van Wijk

The reality is that when my kids are my age the likelihood of skiing in the Gatineau Park and in the Ottawa area is going to be pretty minimal
For someone so deeply involved in local skiing—a decade ago he and his wife Claudia bought the land that’s home to the Nakkertok Ski Club, Canada’s largest cross country club—the very idea hurts.  Thinking about it he adds “you know, that hits home!”


Gatineau Park is Ottawa’s premiere destination for skiing.  Renée Bellehumeur Senior Manager, Visitors Services and Operations for the Park will join Dirk to discuss the challenges the NCC have faced and anticipate in keeping cross country trails in the best skiing shape possible. For Alpine skiers Bob Sudermann will be on the panel; co-owner of Camp Fortune and owner of Mont Ste Marie Bob is in a unique position to help us understand how ski hills are managing with climate change.

There will be plenty of time for audience questions plus there will be door prizes.

  • WHEN - Wednesday February 5, 2014, 7:30pm to 9:00pm
  • WHERE -  at The Canada Aviation and Space Museum - 11 Aviation Parkway
  • Parking is free for this event

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