With particular encouragement from Dr. Franco Leoni from Camrose, RMR initiated an annual event called “Sharkfest” in 1998 at the Mt. Shark Racing Trails in Kananaskis Country. The Mt. Shark trails have a unique history in the Nordic scene, having originally been developed as a backup site to the Canmore Nordic Centre in the early eighties. The site has hosted many premier events including the North American Championships in 1985, and the Canadian Nationals in 1986. Many well-known athletes competed there including Pierre Harvey and Vegard Ulvang. The relatively remote location, often challenging driving conditions on the Smith-Dorien access road, and limited parking have posed some very interesting challenges and adventures.
Sharkfest also often is designed to also be the final Alberta Cup races of the season. In 2000 it included two distance events for the Senior Nationals. That year the Nationals had to be moved from Thunder Bay due to lack of snow. Some Lappe Nordic volunteers came to assist, and despite a significant increase in the usual number of entries, the races were a big success.
Other than two shacks originally moved there in the eighties, pretty much all facilities for competitions for many years were brought in and set up, and all power is created from portable generators. A few years ago the shacks were removed and now all event hosting needs are imported just for the Sharkfest weekend. Sharkfest, however, has a popular following with the beautiful mountain scenery, the spring weather, and of necessity, “old-fashioned” methods of running races. Many Sharkfest volunteers have been “old-timers” from the Olympic era who enjoyed coming out and re-living the memories.
For a few years Sharkfest was hosted at the Canmore Nordic Centre but in 2014 race organizers decided to bring this spring event back to its original location.
Sanctioned by Cross Country Canada (CCC) and Cross Country Alberta (see CCC Rules & Alberta Cup Technical Package)