Last weekend in Canmore, Alberta was the Masters World Cup of Skiing event for Cross Country Skiers. The event is comparable to the Olympics in the quality of competition except it happens every year and there is a number of age groups and distances, but athletes from as far as Finland, Germany, France, and many other countries travel for the event.

Keith Meszaros from Biggar competed in the first Masters World Cup that was held in Canmore in 1995 as a 39 year old, and with the event's return in Canmore this year he was able to compete again at 66 where he competed in the 10km short track race and finished just over 46 minutes in for a 26th place finish in his age group. While he had set a goal for a sub-40 minute finish, Meszaros is proud of how he pushed himself through tough conditions that didn't favour his skis.

"Waxing has become very technical and it snowed that four inches of fairly wet, heavy snow just prior to the event, so my skis were really slow compared to the front runners but nevertheless it's still so unique to be skiing and trying to catch the guys ahead of you and try not to allow the guys behind you to catch you. So therein lies a race within a race within the race, it's unexplainable how much you push yourself to try to catch the one ahead of you and not and not allow that one behind you to pass you for that race within a race."

For Meszaros, Cross Country Skiing has been a passion of his since he was 25-years-old and is much more than just a hobby, and that's a sentiment shared within the Cross Country Skiing community. That's part of the reason why there isn't qualification races ahead of the Masters World Cup, because those that are brave enough to take on that sort of challenge have to be the kind of person who has been training for this sort of thing for a long time.

"There was three or four men in their 90s, and these these guys are still cruising really, really well. Lots of women in in their in their 60s, 70s and 80s, and it was so enjoyable to commiserate with your fraternity. The way the event ran, we would start in 10 minute staggers so the youngest, the 35 year olds would start initially and then the the next group would start 10 minutes after and so on and so forth, so in my event there was probably 100-150 skiers at the finish line."

Meszaros added, "how often do you rub shoulder to shoulder with 40 or 50 other 60 year olds and in any one event that all have a have a common philosophy and kind of a common lifestyle?"

While he did compete in the 10km race, which is the shortest of the event, it's not what Meszaros typically trains for. In the Biggar area, he usually trains for a more sprint style race in the 2-3km range, but the will to compete and mingle with other people who've made that commitment towards taking care of themselves through Cross Country Skiing is what attracted Meszaros to prepare himself for the event regardless.

"Unfortunately, this winter season has been probably the worst season for skiing in around here because we live in the country here just outside of Biggar and I can ski out my back door primarily on a big Salt Lake. There's the shoreline, the trees along the shoreline restricts any amount of wind erosion, and so it's usually pretty good skiing here but because we had those a big rain in I'm thinking early in January, it's been all isaz as it has been all over the country and for ski skating, you're on your inside edges all the time. So I was even reluctant to enter the the competition this year because I just did not feel that I was at my desired level of fitness was, but then last minute I decided to go because it's too hard to pass up something like the World Cup."

Meszaros races in a skate-style cross country event rather than a traditional cross country sort of race where the skis are longer and you aren't pushing off with your legs as much. During the summers he runs in middle distance track and field events, but Cross Country skiing is where his heart is and he'll continue to train as long as there is snow on the ground. Not only that, but he urges anyone to give it a try to not only see how far they can push themselves, but also to see just how enjoyable it can be gliding on the snow.

"The benefits that I've gained from cross country skiing and ultimately in my opinion it is the best form of full body exercise. It's become my addiction in terms of maintaining a high level of overall health and wellness."