Belczyk and his wife Rhonda enjoying the crisp, clean mountain air on Lauberhorn race weekend. Photo submitted

Belczyk and his wife Rhonda enjoying the crisp, clean mountain air on Lauberhorn race weekend. Photo submitted

Castlegar ski legend fêted in Switzerland

Felix Belczyk invited to 90th anniversary celebrations of international ski event

A former Canadian ski champion — and Castlegar resident — was recently honoured at an international skiing event in Switzerland.

Felix Belczyk and his wife were invited to Wengen, Switzerland in January to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Lauberhorn ski race — one Belczyk won back in the 1980s.

Wengen sounds like just what you’d picture a Swiss skiing resort to be like — a tiny mountain village only accessible via a mountain cogwheel train.

“Moving the luggage from the car to the train platform brought back the first strong memories of my Wengen World Cup days,” says Belczyk, who now runs the Spiritleaf cannabis store in Castlegar. “Seeing the old station, watching the train approach, and the scent of the Wengen air stirred up powerful emotions. I knew it was just the beginning of an amazing weekend.”

Famous for its ski race since the 1930s, the Lauberhorn downhill course was quite familiar to Belczyk, who won the event in 1988.

“The Lauberhorn race was moved to Leukerbad that year when snow conditions were too poor to hold the races in Wengen,” Belczyk recalled. “My attire for the festivities [this year] included a pair of skis used during the races that year, and I chose to wear my Calgary Olympic clothing. I think the outfit went over well.”

The challenging course (it has a Canadian Corner, named for a portion of the course where Canadian athletes spectacularly wiped out in the past) pushes skiers‘ abilities, says Belczyk.

“The alpine combined is a race with a shortened downhill run and a single slalom all in the same day,” he says.

It combines the skills of speed and turning and a medal is presented. But generally it is not held in the same esteem as the real downhill or slalom.

“But the young Canadian team is still getting its feet wet, so any experience on the course is valuable. Two of the guys crashed (not hurt), and others made big errors so their ultimate position is not important,” he says.

Despite the Canadians’ challenges, Belczyk says it was a wonderful experience.

On Saturday night at the event center stage in downtown Wengen, and in front of 3,000 race fans and Swiss TV, race organizers presented all the former World Cup Lauberhorn winners.

“During the bib draw that evening, they introduced all the ‘legends,’” he recalled. “Many of the previous winners of the Lauberhorn trophy were introduced on stage including Peter Muller, Kyle Rasmussen, Marcus Wassmeier, Didier Defago, Roland Collombin, Ken Read, and many others.

“It was fun to see old friends and meet the legends I only knew from reputation.

“We wore clothing and carried skis from our era,” Belczyk added. However, “we did not race or get on the course which would be akin to letting an old Formula One racer drive a current race car.”

Seeing former rivals was fun and stirred up many old stories.

“A lot of the memories had to do with the celebrations after the race!” he quipped.

Belczyk and his wife enjoyed priority access to the course, visited and met the Canadian team members, and generally were given the VIP treatment the whole weekend. He says it’s an experience he won’t soon forget.

“I want to thank the Wengen World Cup organizing committee for the extraordinary hospitality during our stay,” he says. “Not only did they put on another world-class event, they provided us with an amazing experience that included skiing, events, accommodation, along with the opportunity to share memories with old racing friends.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The village of Wengen is exactly what you’d picture a Swiss ski resort town would look like. Photo submitted

The village of Wengen is exactly what you’d picture a Swiss ski resort town would look like. Photo submitted

Just Posted

Hailey
Artist launches new business with help of 7S educator

Former school first client for Mystic Design owner Hailey Revolone, a Seven Summits alumna

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

First-year Selkirk College student Terra-Mae Box is one of many talented writers who will read their work at the Black Bear Review’s annual (virtual) launch on April 22. Photo: Submitted
June Hills of Trail won a big jackpot of $5,083 playing Bingo on Friday night with the @RotaryCommunityOnlineBingo on Facebook. Photo: Submitted
Trail player wins big jackpot in Rotary Community Online Bingo

Cards for regular games go on sale every Sunday

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
69 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The total number of cases in the region is now at 9,840 since the pandemic began

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Since April 4, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Vancouver the largest source of domestic flights with COVID-19 cases: data

This month alone, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived

John Furlong, Own The Podium board chairman and former CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, addresses a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday November 25, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
John Furlong presents 2030 Winter Games vision to Vancouver Board of Trade

Vancouver and Whistler would remain among host sites because of 2010 sport venues still operational

Most Read