Dustin Cook Training CenterSummary of the project from 2015-2021
With Club athlete Dustin Cook’s silver medal at the World Alpine Championships in 2015, the Club Mont Ste Marie community became inspired. FIS sanctioned ski races had not been held at Mont Ste Marie (MSM) since it lost its FIS homologation in 1995. What was needed was total community backing to support the vision of a multi-phase project to not only bring back FIS races to MSM and the Outaouais region but to also build a world class training facility, called the “Dustin Cook Training Centre.”
The passion for ski racing runs deep across the Mont Ste Marie community and with thanks to Club Mont Ste Marie, something remarkable has happened.
The Dustin Cook run is the best Giant Slalom run in North America!
The legacy of excellence in the Outaouais is truly remarkable – and Dustin Cook is the most recent champion who has made the entire country proud. It takes a community and projects that invest in future champions not only give that shot of adrenaline to young athletes, they inspire others to explore their potential.
Phase 1 – FIS Homologation
(2015 – 2016)
To re-acquire FIS homologation, it required the lengthening and widening of the old “Outaouais” run on the Cheval Blanc mountain at MSM as it was deemed too narrow and dangerous.
The community rose to the occasion with tremendous financial support. An impressive one hundred and sixty families donating to the cause, which consisted of Club members, alumni, regional ski clubs and ski racing enthusiasts from across the country. In total, an impressive $190,000 was raised in just a short 120 days after Dustin Cooks World Championship silver medal. Construction started shortly thereafter and the new run, re-named “Dustin Cook” was ready for the next season, and FIS races were held on the run for the first time in twenty years.
Easement on the Dustin Cook Run
In return for the community investment into the new Dustin Cook run, Club MSM negotiated and received from Mont St Marie resort owner Bob Sudermann, an official “Easement” recorded on title with the land registry office. This provides the Club with right-of-way access to the run into perpetuity, protecting the Club’s investment.
Phase 2 Snowmaking
The snowmaking facilities at MSM are old and need significant investment. Although Club MSM does not own the resort it sought to act as a catalyst to push for reinvestment. CLUB MSM won grants in its name from three levels of government: MRC $100,000, Tourism Outaouais $75,000, Tourism Quebec $250,000 and $322,000 from Mont Ste. Marie for a total of $747,000. The first phase of the snowmaking project is expected to be completed by December 31st 2021, however, significant further investment is required across the resort and on the Dustin Cook run.
Phase 3 – Start Lodge
Great ski resorts have iconic start lodges that support and inspire athletes. Think of the new start house at the top of the Streif in Kitzbuhel, Austria. Unfortunately, MSM had no lodge on the Cheval Blanc mountain, not even a lodge for the general public. Athletes lost valuable training time on snow by having to travel back to the main lodge located on the Vanier mountain for lunch and warmth.
Club MSM embarked on a mission to change this and to build a world class Start Lodge specifically for athletes at the summit of the Dustin Cook run.
Once again, the MSM community rose to the occasion. This time, one hundred and thirty-eight families raised $100,000 to build the Start Lodge. Alpine Canada recognized the importance of the DC Training Centre and provided tax receipts to all Start Lodge donors.
Construction on the Start Lodge commenced in late November 2018 and finished just in time for the FIS Nor-Am races being held at MSM just six weeks later on January 3rd 2019. This was no easy task, hauling and building at the onset of winter. An army of forty Club volunteers helped to transport 8”x10” by 16 foot logs up the mountain to the top of Dustin Cook.
The iconic Start Lodge is a log structure that combines the actual start gate for athletes and a warming area. With spectacular views down the racecourse and out across the beautiful Gatineau mountains it has become an essential place for athletes to prep, stretch and warm up before their departure, while also becoming a welcome refuge for volunteers to shelter from the cold. Here are just a few quotes from athletes and coaches.
I was very impressed with the Start Lodge, one of the best ones I have ever seen not only on the FIS circuit but on the World Cup Circuit.
Start Lodge is amazing, the Kitzbuhel start hut is the only thing comparable, this Start Lodge will be wonderful for the sport.
Start Lodge is unbelievable, and absolute game changer.
The Start Lodge is amazing, really makes the race feel elite, it is awesome.
The start hut is amazing, the fireplace is really nice to warm our boots, the start gate with Dustin’s photo around us is really cool.
The Finish Pavilion will become a meeting spot for volunteers and athletes. There are now lots of opportunities for video sessions, team meetings, motivation sessions, plus watching ski racing on the TV (all the time). A room designated for the coaches, coach meetings, planning and collaboration will build a strong coaching culture. There are so many positives with having our own space and club-house, it’s a Win Win all around!
Phase 4 – Finish Pavilion
This phase focused on Club MSM’s infrastructure at the base of the Dustin Cook run that was spread-out and falling apart. A new iconic building to house the timing hut, race office, coaches’ room and a great room for volunteers and athletes to warm up was sought.
This phase saw the largest community support, with one hundred and seventy families donating an impressive $275,000 to build the Finish Pavilion. Alpine Canada once again offered tax receipts to all donors. The building was just competed and opened January 1st 2021.
Phase 5 – Widening Dustin Cook at Rock Cut
This phase calls for the further widening of the “Dustin Cook” run in a dangerous area called “Rock-Cut.” Two rock sections adjacent to the run, on skiers left, would be blasted away. This will greatly improve athlete safety, provide better course sets, a dedicated training lane down from the Start Lodge and provide more room for the skiing public, everybody wins.
A core group of thirty families from the Club community have donated $35,000 towards the $75,000 required for this phase.
Going forward, the Club is considering embarking on Phase 6, to further improve the snowmaking infrastructure specifically on the Dustin Cook run. The goal is to have the run open by December 1st each year and have the infrastructure in place to blow snow when mother nature co-operates. Early estimates indicated that this will cost $500,000.