Nathaniel Mah, a 22-year-old Canadian, isn’t someone we would normally liken to an endangered species. That’s perhaps the best analogy for Mah, who describes himself as the last remaining nordic combined athlete in Canada. He currently trains in Canmore with the Alberta World Cup Academy and jumps when he can — most often in the U.S. at the Utah Olympic Park (UOP) jumping facility in Park City.
That defining characteristic, the last Canadian NoCo skier, hasn’t deterred Mah from his international competition ambitions. He’s been able to weave a tapestry of training opportunities and support to pursue his athletic goals.
In this Nordic Nation episode, we speak to Mah about how he’s been able to train and compete while Canada’s nordic combined and jumping scene struggles to remain viable. Mah is coached in cross country by Chris Jefferies and Allison Macardle from the Alberta World Cup Academy. Currently, Mah is without an official jumping coach.
Most pressing for Mah and his constituency of avid ski jumpers is the prospect of Calgary’s ski jumping complex at Canada Olympic Park (COP) shuttering this coming October. WinSport is a nonprofit that owns and operates the COP as well as the Beckie Scott High Performance Training Centre on Haig Glacier and the Bill Warren Training Centre at the Canmore Nordic Centre. According to several news reports, WinSport claims the jumps require a costly upgrade and the $500,000-dollar annual cost to operate is not sustainable. (Read more: March 27 CBC article and March 23 article in Canada’s Global News)
Ski Jumping Canada posted a press release detailing its position on the likely closure of the jumping venue.
Making matters more complex, it appears Calgary is preparing a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics. In a study (full report) commissioned by Ski Jumping Canada, data suggest a majority of respondents desire events involving ski jumping to be held specifically in Calgary rather than Vancouver. (It has been reported that Vancouver is a possible ski-jumping venue for a proposed Calgary 2026 Winter Olympic bid.)
Jason lives in Bend, Ore., and can often be seen chasing his two boys around town. He’s a self-proclaimed audio geek. That all started back in the early 1990s when he convinced a naive public radio editor he should report a story from Alaska’s, Ruth Gorge. Now, Jason’s common companion is his field-recording gear.