Inducted CSHF: 1985
Hometown: Camrose, Alta / Devon, Alta
Date of Birth: November 14, 1932
Affiliated Discipline(s): Nordic: Cross-Country, Jumping, Combined. Coach, Official Active Career Date(s): 1939 – 1978
FIS Code: n/a
Club: Camrose Ski Club
Irvin Servold was born in 1932 at Camrose, Alberta. Involved in, and contributing to, the sport of skiing for most of his life, he was a member of the Canadian Olympic Association (COA), the Coaching Association of Canada and a past member of the Canadian Association of Nordic Ski Instructors. An influential member of the Canadian Ski Association CSA), he was Committee Chair of the Jumping and Cross Country Committees for the Alberta Division. At the national level of the CSA, he served on the Nordic Combined & Cross Country Program Committee. He was also involved as a technical advisor to the Cross Country and Jumping Committee and acted as Chief of Competition for the national cross country and jumping, Nordic Combined and senior cross country championships. He also served on the jury of a number of national cross country and ski jumping events including competition at Lahti, Finland and served as a technical delegate to national cross country and ski jumping championships and the Canada Winter Games.
His involvement with the Canadian Olympic Committee included, in 1978, initial site selection for the 1988 XI Olympic Winter Games, Calgary, Alberta. He was also a member of the study group for the Nordic World Ski Championships held at Oslo, Norway.
Irvin Servold’s coaching activities included instructing at the National Coaches courses (cross country skiing), the Alberta teams (cross country and jumping), and teams at the national level, (Nordic Combined, cross country and jumping) at Myasma Ski Games, Sapporo, Japan, (cross country), the Pre-Olympic Nordic competitions, Sarajevo, (then) Jugoslavia, (Nordic Combined), and the Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS) World Cup competition in Nordic Combined on the Scandinavian circuit.
In a distinguished competitive career, he joined Canada’s Nordic team at the 1956 VII Olympic Winter Games, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy competing in the Individual Men’s Nordic Combined event. Four years later, he was again invited to join the national Nordic team at the 1960 VIII Olympic Winter Games, Squaw Valley, USA where he competed in both 15 km and 30 km Classic events and the Nordic Combined.
He first started competing in 1939 at the age of 7 and progressed rapidly to win Alberta Championships on a number of occasions in cross country skiing, ski jumping and Nordic Combined. At the national level, he won the national championship in Nordic Combined in 1955 and 1972.
In international intercollegiate competition, he placed 3rd in ski jumping in 1958, and placed 1st in cross country skiing on three occasions, in 1958, 1959 and 1961. He also competed in Nordic Combined and USA cross country relay.
In 1980, his outstanding contribution to sport was recognized with his induction into the Alberta Hall of Fame.
Embrace Winter! Be a Cross-Country Skier
In December, the City of Edmonton announced a new strategy called For the Love of Winter that will encourage Edmontonians to embrace the cold season by making outdoor activity easier and more accessible. For example, the city recently opened a facility in Whitemud Park that offers individuals playing outdoors in the winter a place to rest and warm up.
A recent episode of CBC television s the Doc Zone describes how so may Canadians no longer live up to their international reputation as hardy winter warriors who joyously skate, ski, ice fish and trek our way through months of cold and snow and instead stay inside watching their electronic screens or plan escapes to warmer weather in the south.
Devonites wishing to live up to the reputation as winter warriors should consider cross-country skiing as a way to embrace winter. There are about 15 kilometres of tracks set around the golf course, along the river and up in
the hills to suit a variety of skill and fitness levels. Ask any regular
skier and they will attest to the fact that cross-country skiing has
increased their appreciation of snow and chilly temperatures and improved their fitness level.
A recent article in the Globe and Mail describes research conducted in Sweden and at Ball State University in Indiana on the fitness levels of two groups of octogenarian men: one group was made up of lifelong cross-country skiers who trained four to six times a week, and the other group was made up of men who did not exercise. The results showed that the skiers had approximately twice the cardiovascular and muscular fitness of the control group. It seems that the use of the upper body and climbing hills are two
big health boosts gained from cross-country skiing.
Cross-country skiing is part of the fabric of Devon. Nordic skiing was
brought here by Irvin Servold when he moved from Camrose in 1961. Cross-country trails and a ski jump were added to the downhill ski run that had existed in the river valley since 1951. The Nordic ski club was very active in the 70s and hosted many races, including the Alberta Cross Country Championships with over 250 competitors.
The first ever Canadian Birkbebeiner started in Devon in 1985. It was fashioned after the original Norwegian Birkebeiner and followed a route that took skiers from here along the North Saskatchewan River to Edmonton. The Norwegian Birkebeiner follows the historic 55 km route over the mountains between Lillehammer and Rena. Legend has it that in 1206 two warriors skied that route to carry the infant prince and heir to the throne from the
danger posed by civil war. The Devon Birkebeiner posed it s own challenges. It required organizers to negotiate access with over 53 private land owners and skiers to cross the river four times. The weather presented challenges
too. On the day of the first race, February 9, 1985, the wind chill was
-38°C. The story goes that a race organizer held his thumb on the thermometer long enough to officially declare that the temperature was warm
enough to proceed with the race. In 1987 the Canadian Berkebeiner was cancelled due to lack of snow. When lack of snow threatened once again to be a problem in 1988, the event was moved to the Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area where it has been held ever since. This year s Birkie will be held on Saturday, February 9.
Local skiers participating in the Canadian Birkebeiner like to ski in
Devon s annual ski loppet which takes place the weekend before. On Sunday, February 3, novice and experienced skiers are invited to participate in the Devon Nordic Ski Club s Classic Loppet. There will be a 5 and a 10 km
option. This is a fun activity that people of all ages and abilities are
encouraged to attend. Anyone wishing to participate is asked to register at
the Devon Golf and Country Club between 9 and 9:30 so organizers can prepare for the 10 am start. Registration fees are $10 for adults and $5 for 16 and
under. Although medals are awarded to the three fastest times for the 5 and
10 km routes in the youth and adult categories, many skiers who participate
are not racers and enter simply to challenge themselves and to enjoy the company of others.
It s a great year to embrace winter and try cross-country skiing. Go outside and have some fun.
by Mary Ann Bennett
Devon Nordic Ski Club member
For more information about the Loppet or the Devon Nordic Ski Club, please contact Barry Delano (race organizer) Allan Macaulay (past club president) at firstname.lastname@example.org ___________________________________
Edmonton develops new plan to embrace winter, The Weather Network, Dec 13, 2012, http://www.theweathernetwork.com/news/storm_watch_stories3&stormfile=Edmonto n_develops_new_plan_to_embrace_winter_13_12_2012
Doc Zone, CBC Television, Life Below Zero, Thursday, Dec 27, 2012, http://www.cbc.ca/doczone/episode/life-below-zero.html
The Canadian Birkebeiner Ski Festival, http://www.canadianbirkie.com/event-details, accessed Jan 11, 2012.
Interview with Glenda Hanna, General Manager, The Canadian Birkebeiner Ski Festival, Jan 12, 2013.
The jaw-dropping benefits of cross-country skiing, Globe and Mail, January 7, 2013. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/fitness/the-jaw-dropp ing-benefits-of-cross-country-skiing/article6747824/