Montreal

Promoter wants to bring an international ski race to the slopes of Mount Royal

Their goal is to have a plan to present in spring 2019 and hold the inaugural event as early as 2020.

Analysis of elevation, length and angle of slope shows it is feasible, promoter says

Downhill skiing is part of Mount Royal's history — and a promoter wants to bring it back with a world-class event. (City of Montreal archives)

A Quebec promoter is looking to bring a world-class skiing competition to the slopes of Mount Royal.

Gestev, a sports and entertainment promotion company, is eyeing a slope leading from the mountain's Outremont summit into the Université de Montréal campus as a possible location for a parallel slalom course.

Gestev president Patrice Drouin says he is in talks with the International Ski Federation (FIS) to bring the event to Montreal.

He's been considering the event since 2012, but says the idea of using Mount Royal is a recent development.

Bringing downhill back

"We knew about the slope that existed on Mount Royal," said Drouin. "I always thought that the slope was off the technical parameters that FIS is asking for."

But he had an analysis on for the elevation, length and angle of the slope done last fall — and now he thinks the location is feasible.

Downhill skiing on Mount Royal dates back to the 19th century. The remains of a ski lift can still be seen on the mountain, on the site proposed by Gestev.

Remnants of the old ski slope can still be seen on Mount Royal. (Navneet Pall/CBC)

"It's a great show. It has a great viewership around the globe and it brings a lot of spectators," said Drouin, whose company also puts on the Jamboree ski and snowboard event in Quebec City.

His goal is to have a plan to present in spring 2019, and hold the inaugural event as early as 2020.

However, not everyone thinks it's such a good idea.

Delicate ecosystem, public space

"What people come here for are the green spaces, and the beauty," said Helene Panaioti, executive director of Les amis de la montagne, a non-profit group that works to protect and improve Mount Royal.

"This project is not at all consistent with the vocation of our parks on the mountain."

She says the urban forest area being considered by Gestev is delicate, and that the city is already in the midst of revitalizing the area into a public park.

The old ski slope on Mount Royal has long since grown over and now a local advocacy group is concerned about the proposed plan to bring skiing back. (Navneet Pall/CBC )

"The idea of turning it into something else at this point makes little sense," Panaioti said.

"You essentially would be privatizing a public space, and making it accessible to only a certain kind of user."

Drouin says that while he estimates the cost of holding the event each year would be $5 million to $6 million, they are still in the process of analyzing the cost of infrastructure needed.

His goal is to have the event run at least three to four years concurrently, with the hope that it would become a regular event on the FIS calendar.

He would be looking to the private sector, as well as government programs, as funding sources.

"There's a lot of advertising around this," he said. "Some enterprise might be interested in bringing back to life this heritage from the past."

With files from Navneet Pall and Brennan Neil

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