Mont-Tremblant’s cross-country ski club
Launching its 45th season
New revamped shop, new grooming machine, new website: the organization Ski de fond Mont-Tremblant, under its new general manager Josée Gagnon, is getting ready to enjoy a more dynamic season than ever before. Tremblant Express met with Josée and with Serge Dubois, co-founder and president of the Centre de ski de fond Mont-Tremblant.
A short history
It’s 1970. Alpine skiing, while very popular, doesn’t appeal to every visitor. That’s when the development of cross-country ski trails was tackled to respond to a need for more diversity in terms of the outdoor activities available.
Serge Dubois’s father, René Dubois,created the Mont Bellevue ski centre and equipped it with a mechanical ski lift bought in Sun Valley, Idaho. It’s worth mentioning that this was that legendary resort’s very first ski lift and therefore, the first in use in North America.
The price, while very reasonable, meant that its transportation had to be provided by René Dubois, “which represented quite the adventure,” Serge Dubois notes.
“To diversify what was available on our little mountain, we had decided to provide cross-country ski trails. The starting point was at the top of Mont Bellevue thanks to the mechanical lift, and the trails took us into the Domaine Saint-Bernard. The Christian brothers, who owned the Domaine, had developed fire breaks in the forest that could be used as trails,” Serge explains.
Creation of the Club
In 1975, all the big landowners of Saint-Jovite and Mont-Tremblant met at the Villa Bellevue (where the Grand Lodge is now), which at the time belonged to the Dubois family.
The objective was to create a network of trails that would link the inns and hotels. Some of those at the meeting were Charles Duncan, Bill Williams (of Mont Tremblant Resort), Biff Wheeler, Jim Cuttle, Gilles Gratton (of Pinoteau) and the Dubois family. The Club de ski de fond Saint-Jovite-Mont-Tremblant was incorporated.
“That’s how it all started,” Serge reminisces. “At that time the director, Guy Paquette, who was a huge fan of nature, was made responsible for laying out the trays. Michel Bertrand, always accompanied by his faithful German shepherd, groomed the trails on his snowmobile with the help of an old mattress.”
The entire network revised and improved
Following an analysis done in 1994, Serge was advised to provide his club with a reception centre and to bring the trails together as loops, rather than a sprawled network. Serge met with the Brothers of Christian Instruction of the Domaine Saint-Bernard. In 1995 the Centre de ski de fond Mont-Tremblant was created at the Domaine’s Wheeler/Kuchar pavilion
Looking to the future
Today, with 112 km of trails awaiting the people who come to glide over the snow through the Laurentian forest. The network of trails, use of which is free for residents of Mont-Tremblant, provides more than 80 kilometres of cross-country ski trails for both classic and skate style,27 kilometres of snowshoeing trails and three kilometres of trail for winter walking.
Two heated lodges and one rest area with a wood-burning open stove are also available.
Every year, the Centre de ski de fond Mont-Tremblant welcomes between 30,000 and 35,000 skiers. This season will feature, in particular, the creation of a new shop which is now called the “Rossignol experience centre”.
The reception of visitors will involve more sustained support, and beginners will now be accompanied for their first one hundred metres or so. “The goal is to be able to share a few skiing tips and start them off in the right direction,” Josée emphasizes.
Having taken over the job last December, Josée Gagnon is now the organization’s general manager. The former manager of the Mont-Tremblant Ski Club is working hard to develop the Jackrabbit cross-country skiing program, which invites youngsters aged six to 12 to get into the sport on Sundays at the Domaine Saint-Bernard.
“I’m really excited about it, because cross-country skiing just keeps growing. One of my missions is to transfer the passion to young people. The silence you experience doing cross-country is real and absolutely magic,” she concludes.
Guillaume Vincent249 Posts
Rédacteur et journaliste de profession, Guillaume Vincent a fait ses armes au sein de l’agence QMI. Il s’est joint au Tremblant Express en 2014. Promu en 2017, il y assume depuis le rôle de rédacteur en chef et directeur de la publication. / A writer and photojournalist by profession, Guillaume Vincent won his stripes in the QMI agency. He joined Tremblant Express in 2014. Promoted in 2017, he has been editor-in-chief and co-publisher since then.