COVID-19 outbreak puts Canmore Nordic Centre skiers in quarantine

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CANMORE, Alta. — An outbreak of 11 confirmed cases of COVID-19 has occurred at the Nordic Centre in Canmore, Alta.

The Canmore Nordic Centre is the headquarters of Canada's cross-country ski and biathlon teams, which have been training there this fall.

"The sport cohort outbreak is related to an adult cross-country team training at the Canmore Nordic Centre," Alberta Health spokesperson Zoe Cooper told The Canadian Press in an email Wednesday.

"The COVID-positive individuals are isolating as required and all close contacts have been tested and are also isolating."

Nordiq Canada, which oversees the national cross-country team, did not confirm whether national-team athletes were among confirmed cases citing health and medical privacy. 

Alberta provincial team athletes also train at the Nordic Centre.

“We are aware of a positive COVID-19 test within the Canmore regional training environment," Nordiq Canada said in a statement Wednesday. 

"Nordiq Canada is assisting impacted individuals, and those who have come in close contact. 

"These individuals are in quarantine and following all of the required protocols in place to protect themselves and the community at large."

Biathlon Canada general manager Heather Ambery says Nordiq Canada informed her organization of a positive COVID-19 test.

"All athletes and staff within the (senior) national team were notified of the positive case and have been in touch with our team doctor to identify if there were any close contacts," Ambery said in an email to The Canadian Press.

"We continue to monitor the situation while working closely with our chief medical officer and sport partners."

Canmore had 16 active cases of the virus as of Wednesday in a population of 16,273, according to Alberta Health statistics.

Nordiq Canada announced Monday the cross-country team won't travel to Europe to race World Cups prior to January "after weighing the risks associated with international travel as numbers of COVID-19 continue to increase globally.

"COVID-19 is the most challenging competitor we have faced as a sport organization which forces continual adjustments to our performance plans."

The skiers' next competition will be the world championship team trials Jan. 7-10 in Whistler, B.C. The world nordic ski championships are scheduled for Feb. 22 to March 7 in Oberstdorf, Germany. 

Biathlon Canada intends to send the Canadian team to the first World Cups races of the season starting Nov. 27 in Kontiolahti, Finland, according to Ambery.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2020.

The Canadian Press