Panorama Mountain Village will host the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Cup commencing January 8, 2014 and is building a new downhill race course at its mountain.

The 10-day competition features Alpine Paralympic athletes who will journey to Panorama from around the globe and begin training on the mountain mid-November, 2013.

Earlier this year, the International Ski Federation (Fédération Internationale de Ski – FIS) approved plans to build the downhill race course at Panorama. With an 800-metre vertical drop, it is the first speed course with this level of technicality built in Canada to support international competition and will be used by provincial, national and international athletes for both training and racing.

Tremendous preparation is required to create a course that meets the requirements set forth by FIS. These requirements ensure the safety of the participants and exemplify the challenges elite Olympic athletes strive to master.

Panorama’s downhill track is divided into three sections. The top third features a section where athletes may reach speeds greater than 120 km/h. The mid-section features greater technical challenges, slowing the athletes to approximately 80 km/h with a large, swooping turn to reduce speed. During the last leg of the race, athletes will once again increase speeds, likely surpassing 120 km/h. A new timing cable has been installed along the full length of the track, which has the ability to track the athletes’ speed at any point during the race.

While the technical aspects of the race are important to create a world-class race course for the athletes, safety is also a critical factor in this event, says Patrick Gillespie, Race and Mountain Events Manager at Panorama. “We’ve already accomplished quite a bit designing this course. We’re widening the track, removing trees, filling holes and setting up air bags and safety netting. The idea is to make the course as safe and as challenging as possible without changing the characteristics of the mountain.”

A larger staging area has been developed to accommodate IPC athletes using wheelchairs and other personal transport devices. In terms of snow conditions and grading of the run, Panorama is bringing in additional grooming equipment to ensure firm consistency and identical conditions for the athletes whether they are first or last out the gate.

The race course incorporates several Panorama ski runs, most notably, Roller Coaster, Skyline, and Old Timer.

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Photo courtesy of Panorama Resort.

SnowOnline Editor: Lori Knowles