The 2019 Ontario ParaSport Games are upon us. From February 8th to 10th, venues around Durham region will host sports such as 5-a-side soccer, visually-impaired curling, sitting volleyball, sledge hockey and wheelchair rugby. We are especially excited to watch the alpine and Nordic racing events at Brimacombe ski facility beginning on the ninth.
Brimacombe (affectionately known as The Brim) has been involved in the bid for the ParaSport Games almost from the beginning of the process which spanned several years. When Durham Region finalized its plans to go for the opportunity to host, officials reached out to Brimacombe to see if the facility was able and willing to participate with the Alpine racing. Because of The Brim’s ongoing work with various tourism bodies in the area, and its resulting appreciation for what large events like this can do for the local economy, they jumped at the chance.
“Right from the beginning we said yes,” says general manager Mark Rutherford. “We were thrilled to be a part of this and to help facilitate it.”
Interestingly enough, the Nordic racing opportunity came to The Brim almost accidentally. “It kind of fell into our laps last summer,” Mark jests. “We don’t have Nordic skiing anymore, but we do have the ability to lay out a suitable sized track. And because we have snowmaking capabilities, we could virtually guarantee that we could have snow available on the day of the event. So we bit off the challenge, and we’ll make it happen.”
Brimacombe is a fully inclusive facility, and one of its priorities has always been to make sure that anybody and everybody can take part in what it has to offer. “For us, it’s more than just skiing and snowboarding,” says Mark. “It’s about giving people the opportunity to get outside and enjoy some time with friends and family, and get some exercise.”
For about twenty-five years, Mark estimates, Brimacombe has hosted the Durham Chapter of CADS (Canadian Association of Disable Skiing) in an eight-week lesson and mentoring program for people with adaptive needs. Mark says, “We’ve always been proud to be able to have that offering here. Of course, the ParaSport Games coming to Durham is special on its own, but to be able to be a part of that and be able to make sure that we can provide that opportunity is pretty exciting for us.”
On the day of the event, guests will find Mark Rutherford and his team managing setup and onsite logistics. Hopefully they will be able to take a breather at some point and watch the race along with all the other eager spectators. However, with these two sports being so popular, they expect to have their hands quite full. But it’s a challenge they’re happy to accept. “Contrary to popular belief, I don’t just ski all day,” Mark laughs. “It’s quite a hectic job for me and my team, but we really enjoy seeing people out there smiling and having fun—especially those that might otherwise not have the opportunity to do so without assistance from others.”
Brimacombe is a not-for-profit facility, which has been in operation since the 1936/1937 season. It is one of the largest facilities in Southern Ontario south of the Collingwood area, and sees around 150,000 skier visits per year. “We’re nice and close to the city,” Mark says, “so if the weather’s good, you can get here from Toronto in about 45 minutes.”
With 23 trails, two chalets, seven lifts, a well-laid terrain park, racing programs, and delicious food service, Brimacombe has everything you could want to make your day on the hills a memorable adventure. “We pride ourselves on guest experience,” Mark states. “Our main goal is safety, of course. But our secondary goal is to make sure the guests’ experience is the best we can make it, so we really work hard on that culture and atmosphere.”
4098 Regional Rd. 9, Orono, www.brimacombe.ca, (905) 983-5983
Written by: Katherine Ryalen