Many residents may have not noticed, but the North Okanagan has been playing host to a major sports event for the past week.
About 1,200 athletes have been participating in the 2011 Sparkling Hill Masters World Cup, which wraps up today at the Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre.
Besides cross-country skiers from 22 nations, the event drew family members, sports officials, media and enthusiasts. While here, they filled up Greater Vernon’s hotels and motels, ate in our restaurants, visited shops and explored. Such an infusion of cash is significant for businesses in the off-season.
And the benefits are long-term as many of these visitors may return for holidays, and the success of this Masters World Cup means Sovereign Lake is poised to hold future international gatherings.
Just as with curling, Greater Vernon is carving out a niche when it comes to nordic skiing and sports tourism.
Of course, the World Cup didn’t just happen overnight.
Organizers with the Sovereign Lake Nordic Club and Silver Star Mountain Resort have been planning the Masters for years, and it was no easy task to improve infrastructure and solicit sponsors during a recession. Key support has also come from local businesses and government.
But most importantly, credit must go to the army of volunteers behind the scenes. If it wasn’t for their dedication to the community and the sport, the World Cup wouldn’t have been possible.
As the skiers hit the trails one last time today, local residents wish them well and we hope to see you back in the North Okanagan.
—Vernon Morning Star