If you’ve been over by the Railway Museum lately, or decided to head for a trip up Mount Revelstoke, you may have noticed a flurry of construction at the Track Street entrace to Mount Revelstoke National Park.
The work is for the new gateway being built that will mark the start of the trail. Dubbed the Tournament of Champions “Winner’s Circle”, the gateway is being constructed through a collaboration between the City of Revelstoke and Parks Canada.
The gateway, which was conceived by Parks Canada artist Rob Buchanan, is designed to celebrate Revelstoke’s ski jumping history. Read his full artist statement below.
The gateway is not scheduled to be officially opened until next year, when interpretative panels are installed at the site. In the meantime, you can see pictures of the construction of the gateway in the slideshow above.
Tournament of Champions
Design: Rob Buchanan
“What good is a town without a ski jump?”
World Champion Revelstoke ski jumper Nels Nelsen, 1915
Location: Pedestrian and Cycle access road to Mount Revelstoke National Park from Track Street (across from the Railway Museum entrance).
Background: Revelstoke is home to Canada’s only world ski-jump records and is the original home of Canada’s oldest continually operating ski club. The rich heritage of ski-jumping in Revelstoke is worthy of a prominent place in Canadian and international ski history.
One of Revelstoke’s most colourful athletes, world-champion ski jumper Nels Nelsen sprang to fame on “Suicide Hill” (today called The Nels Nelsen Historic Ski Jump) in Mount Revelstoke National Park. He set four world records in the park in 1920, 1921, 1923, and 1925. Locals flew off the A-Jump (the larger of two jumps) even when it intimidated international competitors. In the 1920’s, women were also jumping competitively on the ‘Big Hill’. In 1950, the first of many Tournament of Champions was held in Revelstoke. Over the next 24 years this event would attract thousands of spectators and international competitors from as far away as Norway, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Italy, USA, Austria, Switzerland and Japan.
The Project: The design for the Tournament of Champions “Winner’s Circle” introduces and celebrates Revelstoke’s rich history with international ski-jumping. A semi-circle has been excavated from the deactivated original road-bed leading to the jump site. The walls of the circle are made from local stacked rock to mirror the historic construction of the A and B jump at the Nels Nelsen Historic Ski Jump. Red cobblestones provide the surface treatment for the “Winner’s Circle” and create a consistent look that links with the cobblestone elements of nearby Grizzly Plaza. Ten colourful flags, representing the ten countries that sent skiers to participate in the Tournament of Champions, flank the upper perimeter of the circle and are clearly visible from the Railway Museum and Victoria Road. These flags act as a lure to the site and connect our town with international visitors. Below each pole a small interpretive panel tells a short colourful history of the competitors from each respective flag. Two larger interpretive panels within the cobblestone circle (consistent in design with the new interpretive panels on Revelstoke’s Heritage Trail along the Greenbelt) introduce stories of the Tournament of Champions. A final interpretive panel at the top of the stairs provides Mount Revelstoke orientation information.
At the centre of the semi-circle, a large shiny chrome sculpture on a rock plinth acts as centre-piece and a lure to the site. Simple in form, the sculpture is based on defying gravity through balance – a metaphor for ski-jumping. The piece is ambiguous: it is a ski jump, it is the trajectory of flight, it is the two skis and imagined presence of a competitor, it is a trophy, a three-dimensional representation of the balance required to “fly without wings”. The base for the sculpture has exposed geometric truss-work, a zig-zagging feature that represents the up-track competitors had to climb before they could don their skis and launch off the jump. Wrapping around the “Winner’s Circle” is a bike path that also serves as a wheelchair accessible route to the top of the site. Stairs from within the circle enable casual walkers and hikers to gain the upper level.
The Tournament of Champions “Winner’s Circle” functions as a gateway to both a story – the colourful history of ski jumping in Revelstoke – and a place – Mount Revelstoke National Park and the Nels Nelsen Historic Ski Jump. The site will link visitors and locals to this internationally significant event where records were smashed and daring ski-jumpers defied gravity by “Flying Without Wings”.