Community Clubs Skiing

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Former school portable rebranded into safe, warm lodge for Calabogie’s competitive skiers

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic

Calabogie freestyle skiing. File photo

By Martin Cleary

The Calabogie Peaks competitive skiing community faced a major obstacle in September and it had nothing to do with fixing a steep alpine slalom run or upgrading the moguls course for freestylers.

The fall focus for the parent volunteers of Calabogie’s alpine racers and freestyle skiers was the warmth and safety of their children during the COVID-19 pandemic. Warming up and gathering in the main lodge would be too risky.

The question – What do you do to protect our young athletes? – was presented three months ago. It sparked a flurry of creativity, resourcefulness and co-operation between two clubs, Calabogie Peaks Resort and the community.

In the end, with weather on their side, Calabogie Ski Racing Club and Calabogie Freestyle Club recently unveiled The Race Base, a rebranded outdoor classroom and work of art to give each discipline its own shelter and heat under COVID-19 protocols.

“We put out a call to our members to ask for suggestions. We had ideas ranging from school buses to Mongolian yurts,” Sean Cunliffe, one of the project leaders, wrote in an email. The skiers’ new home is a former school portable.

In November, the 48-foot by 60-foot pre-fab portable, which once housed students in Orleans, was disassembled, transported in four pieces starting in the middle of the month, and reassembled at Calabogie Peaks.

During the next month, volunteers invested numerous hours and a variety of skills to reconstruct and produce a smart-looking lodge for their young athletes, who compete in the National Capital Division.

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Calabogie Ski Racing Club raises funds through it Partners in Safety Program to provide on-course safety nets for racing and training. But this year, the fund-raising focus became The Race Base for warmth and a safe gathering space for coach-led instruction.

While club member volunteers worked hundreds of hours and donated skills and materials, community businesses also stepped forward to play a big role during these pandemic times. The list of businesses included: Perth Planing Mill Supply (building materials), Ainsworth (furnaces), licensed electricians, and Waterford Retirement Residence (sanitization stations, products). A former club member, who works for W.O. Stinson and Son, provided various propane services.

“We could not have completed such a feat without the support of both clubs’ membership, our fund-raising partners and the Calabogie Peaks Resort,” Cunliffe added.

“Calabogie has always been a tight knit community. In times of need, we come together like family.”

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for over 47 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at

Martin can be reached by e-mail at and on Twitter @martincleary.

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