Usually when athletes go for a rollerski, they deal with a variety of challenges. Crappy pavement, angry drivers, and constant “where’s the snow” heckling is pretty standard no matter where you pick for a ski. But this past Saturday in Gatineau, Quebec, the greatest hazard was a rare one: other rollerskiers.
The 257 rollerskiers who gathered together in the Gatineau Park signed in, posed for a picture, and then skied en masse for about 2 kilometers while local media took video and still pictures. The event was organized by a local outdoor store, Fresh Air Experience, located just across the Ottawa River in Ottawa, Ontario. The massive group came out to the Gatineau Park to set the world record for the most rollerskiers in one place at one time.
According to Fresh Air Experience’s Chris Block-Hanson, the entire idea sprung from a picture of a few rollerskiers, and the knowledge that Ottawa as a whole had a great place to rollerski, with an enthusiastic ski community. As word spread, the event garnered the support of all the area ski clubs, which agreed to participate. Block-Hanson described Fresh Air Experience as “pleased as punch,” with the results of the event.
While the category is not yet included in the Guinness Book of World Records, and had not been a recorded world record, a challenge has now been issued. While Block-Hanson was originally content just to hold bragging rights, V2 Rollerskis has now promised a pair of carbon rollerskis to the first person to beat the record set.
When asked if anyone else in North America could match him, Block-Hanson was confident. “Not even Canmore has the numbers…they have lots of clubs, but it’s all about the having the kids out there,” he said. Nakkertok Nordic Coach Pavlina Sudrich, who coaches a group of juniors aged 11 to 16 and convinced roughly 80 of her athletes to come out to the event was equally as confident. “I’m challenging the Norwegians to match our record,” she said, “specifically one Petter Northug Jr.”
Plans are already underway for next year, as Block-Hanson will attempt organize a group to top 257. “People are really proud to have been a part of this record,” he said.