By Kathryn Lyzun
On Saturday March 7, O.E. (Olie) Olynyk and his daughter Nora will join hundreds of skiers at the 38th Annual Sleeping Giant Loppet. Although he doesn’t say so, it’s pretty much a cinch that he will dominate his age class.
After all, at 90 years of age he has the group all to himself.
Olynyk is a remarkable nonagenarian. He and Nora ski 2-3 times a week; in fact, he completed his 30th Tour de Kamview event last month. All told, he has 93 Nordic skiing events under his belt and it seems entirely possible that he will make it to 100.
Even more remarkable is that Olynyk strapped on his first pair of skis at 60, after a colleague in the engineering department at Can Car convinced him to give it a try on the Centennial Park trails.
Thirty years later, he’s logged over 12,000 km and a lifetime of great memories.
“It has been a very enjoyable pastime. I love it for the exercise and to see the critters, the gorgeous scenery along the trails…a winter wonderland after fresh snowfalls.”
he says. “My only regrets: sitting out the Kamview Tour in 2013 due to illness, and (that I was) unable to master the skating technique!”
The Sleeping Giant Loppet challenges skiers of all skill levels, with an 8 km “mini-Loppet” course, a rolling 20 km loop around Marie Louise, a relaxing 35 km tour along the Burma Trail and the signature event, the 50 km race through beautiful and challenging terrain.
This year, Olynyk will stick with the 8 km but over the past three decades he has tackled all distances, particularly the scenic 20 km tour. And, like so many others, he’s not deterred by the freezing temperatures of the past few weeks.
Loppet organizer Peter Gallagher says despite the cold, this year’s event is shaping up to be excellent. “February has been cold, but the snow we received at the beginning of the month has made for fantastic conditions at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. What a great way to prove that we can not only survive the winter, but enjoy it!”
On-line registration at sleepinggiantloppet.ca continues until 5:00pm on Wednesday, March 4th.
In-person registration and kit pick-up takes place at the Kamview Nordic Centre from 3:00pm to 9:00pm on Thursday and Friday, March 5th and 6th.
There is no registration on the day of the event.