Local ski club receives Alpine Ontario award for annual event

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When you care about something, it shows. So it’s no surprise that the Muskoka Ski Club and Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area received the ‘Event of the Year’ award from Alpine Ontario at the Ontario Ski Racing Awards for its annual rodeo, which receives rave reviews from the young skiers who attend.

The annual awards, which also include Male and Female Athlete of the Year, Club of the Year and Volunteer of the Year, are voted on by Ontario skiers and then are presented in a ceremony at Steam Whistle Brewing in Toronto. Bruce Howell, the club’s director of alpine experience and head coach, and and Muskoka Ski Club member Tom Maduri were on hand to receive the award on behalf of the club.

“We are really honored to be recognized this year for the U10/U12 Championship Rodeo,” said Howell.

The Muskoka Ski Club rodeo began as a fun end-of-season event in 2007 and was organized by club coaches, headed by Rob Wallace. It is held annually on the last weekend of March break. The event grew year over year and became a regional highlight for many young athletes. In 2014, Alpine Ontario partnered with the Muskoka Ski Club and provincially sanctioned the U10/U12 Rodeo Championship.

The Rodeo welcomes athletes between the ages of 8 to 11 years old from across Ontario representing the four Alpine Ontario regions: Southern Ontario, National Capital, Northern Ontario and Lake Superior divisions.

It’s a two-day competition that consists of downhill ski racing and skill development. One day is devoted to a Giant Slalom race and on the second there is a Slalom race.

“For most of the athletes, this is their first chance to take part in a large-scale provincial race and skills festival,” said Howell.

Hidden Valley Resort, which is adjacent to the ski hill, hosts many of the competing athletes and their families. It also participates in the weekend festivities as host of the Saturday night banquet for the skiers. Sponsors that supported the 2019 event included Sporting Life, Mackenzie Investments, Head Skis, Algonquin Outfitters, Hidden Valley Resort, and Hutcheson Reynolds and Caswell Insurance Brokers.

“A huge thank you to our 50 plus volunteers who labour tirelessly on the hill ensuring a festival like this really shows our ski community spirit,” said Howell. “Annual events like the Muskoka Rodeo need the support of sponsors and volunteers for which we are grateful.”

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