(PHOTO: Courtesy graeme.killick.com)
Having competed on the international and North American circuits before going on to race in cross-country skiing at the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, Graeme Killick has seen his share of elite competition.
But, he said, he got his first real taste of it right here at home when the Arctic Winter Games were held in Wood Buffalo.
“They had Norwegians and it was like an international event and it was really inspirational to see those guys and get a taste of what it’s like to race on that level,” he said.
He said the Arctic Winter Games offered him more than just an example of what elite athleticism looked like.
“That was kind of my stepping stone to take it to the next level and it really inspired me, just seeing the community come together and expand the trail system and just get all this infrastructure together for athleticism and
Because of the investments being made into facilities for training and competition here in Wood Buffalo by the municipality and by private partners Killick believes local athletes now have a different outlook.
“Seeing these elite athletes here and the facilities that we’ve brought in, they’re world class and it’s really cool to see,” he said. “It really makes it wide open for anyone that wants to go into any sport. With facilities like this it’s just, there’s nothing stopping you.”
Having access to these facilities means less travel and not just for competitions but also for training which increases the likelihood athletes will stick with a sport.
“It’s so important for the community to come together and remove every obstacle,” he said.
Killick returns every winter to help out at cross-country skiing camps.
“It’s cool to come back and try to help those kids. We’ve got a big young group that’s up and coming and with the facilities and the infrastructure that has been developed here there’s nothing stopping them from taking it to where they want to go,” he said.
He said his next steps are a return to the international circuit in the hopes of qualifying for more competitions and, perhaps, another chance at the Olympics. But first, he wants to camp with his brother while he’s here in town on a rare summer-time visit.