If you begin your journey in Québec City and follow highway 175 northwards for 103 kilometres you will arrive at la Forêt Montmorency. This area of forest was entrusted to Laval University by the province of Québec in 1964. The university uses the land for forestry, ecology, and biology research and teaching, and probably many more projects than I aware of. The area is also one of the first places where it is possible to ski in eastern North America.
The managment of the facility has taken advantage of this fact and has actively promoted skiing here by bringing in snow-making technology and opening the university dormitories and cafeteria to skiers. I have skied here before, but have never stayed on-site. I can now say that the FM experience is not complete without staying in residence. A wax room on the ground level of the dormitory leads directly to the ski trails. With cooking and dishwashing taken care of by the kitchen staff, there are few places where one can focus on training and recovery so effectively. Skiers from hundreds of kilometres arond congregate here in late November, old friends reunite, stories are exchanged, some enjoy the first ski of the year, while others finish of preparations for the race season ahead.
The building has an interesting curved design, and the rooms, showers, kitchen, and workshop make it feel a bit like a self contained spacestation – this is especially the case when the days are short and the nights are cold. The design of a central core connecting to an outer ring via elevated walkway really completes the sci-fi effect.
Unfortunately winter has not been too generous this year, and natural snow cover is thin. Fortunately the facility has entered the game of storing snow over the summer and rolling it out as the nights get cold. Conditions aren’t quite comparable to Frozen Thunder in Canmore, with more dirt and ice on the trail, but for their first year in this business I’d say it’s a job well done. We are skiing on a 1300m loop of old snow, though the organisers are working hard to expand it. We may also get some natural snow tonight which would really help things.
Just like in Canmore, I’m training before breakfast some days, and skiing as much as possible. We are also including interval training on snow, and working to keep technique strong as speeds and fatigue increase.