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This article first appeared in the October 20, 2010 issue of the The Low Down to Hull and Back News.External Link Reprinted with permission. Search complete list of Low Down Articles.

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Olympic champ to celebrate ski club's 100 years

By Trevor Greenway

Each time Anne Heggtveit strapped on a pair of skis as a child, she imagined she was racing in the Olympics.

As she trekked through the bush to reach the lodge before hitting the slopes, the Olympic slalom gold medalist and Ottawa native treated the one-to-two kilometre jaunt as a competition.

Ottawa Ski Club member John Clifford races down a mountain in Chili in 1945. Clifford was the winner of the Pan American Championships the same year, as well as several other competitions. Members of the Clifford family will be honoured at the Ottawa Ski Club's 100th birthday celebeations.

"That trip in and out was always kind of like a race to me," said Heggtveit from her home in Vermont, referring to the early days of parking on Dunlop Road before skiing into the chalets at Camp Fortune. "We would ski in with our packsacks and some sandwiches."

Heggtveit, now 71, skied with the Ottawa Ski Club as a child and teenager before moving up to the national ski team and reaching world heights by winning the women's slalom - Canada's first alpine Olympic gold medal ever - at the 1960 Winter Games in Squaw Valley, Calif., as a 21-year-old.

Although Heggtveit resides in the United States now, she has never forgotten her skiing roots and will return to the Gatineau Hills this week for the Ottawa Ski Club's biggest celebration yet: Its 100th birthday on Oct. 23.

"It was always a great place to spend the weekend," said Heggtveit, referring to Camp Fortune. "I can't wait to come back and see some old friends and colleagues. We will reminisce about the past."

Betsy Clifford of the Ottawa Ski Club barrells down a run in 1970. Clifford won the World Cup slalom event in Austria the same year. Photo courtesy Ottawa Ski Club.

The gloried past years will be the theme for much of the centenary celebration, with the event hailed as "A Night to Remember."

Attendees at the dinnerdance will include some of Canada's skiing stars, including Ken Read, one of the "Crazy Canucks" of World Cup fame, women's World Cup gold-medallist Laurie Graham, World Cup freestyle gold-medallist Mike Nemesvary, as well as past and present members of the national ski teams.

The evening will take centenary celebrants on a nostalgic trip back to the early days of the club, when skiers would board the ski train from Ottawa for the ride through the Gatineaus to Camp Fortune. Presentations will feature ancient photographs dating back to the early 1900s.

Board chair Ivo Krupka of the Ottawa Ski Museum, which is sponsoring the event, said he is looking forward to the evening, which casts the Ottawa Ski Club as a landmark player in our skiing history.

"We at the Canadian Ski Museum see the centennial of the club as a very important part of Canadian skiing heritage," said Krupka. "It's more than just a bunch of guys getting together for a reunion."

Keith Saunders, Louis Grimes, Captain Joe Morin, Sigurd Lockeberg, Clair H. Stewart, Mayor of Ottawa at the time Arthur Ellis Ottawa Ski CLub President Charles E. Mortureux shown in 1929 during Stewart's visit to Ottawa.

The Ottawa Ski Club, in its heyday, was once the largest ski club in the world with an eyepopping 14,000-strong membership. It has produced top-level skiers who have won countless national and international competitions, including the Olympics Games events.

The list of 70 Ottawa Ski Club athletes and coaches who went on to national and world prominence includes women's world champion Betsy Clifford and ski jumper Horst Bulau, a 12- time World Cup gold-medallist, among others.

The club has seen 22 of its members inducted into the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame.

The 100-year celebration starts at 5:30 p.m. at Camp Fortune's main lodge. Tickets are $55 per person and can be purchased by calling 613-722-2914 or by visiting www.campfortuneskiclub.org\ottawaskis100.