By Rebecca Edwards
The Griz is competing in the World Pond Hockey Championship in Plaster Rock, NB next week – after making an appearance on the red carpet in Ontario.
Steve Ruskay – who has held the Griz Days Extreme Griz title for the last four years – is captaining the Fernie Griz team at the international competition next weekend.
The competition will see 120 teams playing a simultaneous round robin tourney on 20 pond hockey rinks, with crowds of up to 8,000 supporters.
The tournament has been held in Plaster Rock since 2002 and is an ongoing fundraiser to raise money to rebuild the local recreation centre.
Ruskay is taking part in the competition with four friends – Reid Smith, Matt Hopkins, Mike Gibson and Curtis McLellan – who have all spent time living or staying in Fernie in the past and were keen to honour Ruskay’s Griz title with their team name.
Before attending the tournament in New Brunswick, Ruskay returned home to Kingston, Ontario for the screening of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, which includes CARCA, the short film mockumentary starring Ruskay and documenting the work of the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Cats Association.
The film shows the plight of association founder Ruskay as he struggles to make the canine-biased avalanche industry understand the potential that cats have as avalanche rescue aids.
CARCA, which was filmed at Fernie Alpine Resort and co-stars a number of ski patrollers and their pet cats, has proved the audience favourite on the world tour, which includes 27 films and this year will have 700 screenings across all seven continents, reaching more than 245,000 people.
CARCA has also recently been selected as a finalist in the Vancouver Mountain Film Festival. It was named the people’s choice at Fernie Mountain Film Festival in 2011.
CARCA now has 1,200 Facebook fans from around the world and a number of cat owners have enrolled their pets in training after seeing the film.
Ruskay received a hero’s welcome from his home crowd in Ontario, and his red carpet appearance even made the front page of his local newspaper, the Kingston Whig Standard.
He and CARCA director Adam Bailey are already planning CARCA 2 for this year’s Fernie film festival, but are not revealing any details about the plot.
After four victorious years, Ruskay has decided not to compete in the 2012 Extreme Griz competition during Griz Days on March 2-4.
“I have retired but I am going to run the competition and become the Grizmaster to oversee everything and make sure the Griz standards stay high,” he said.
• Canadian Avalanche Rescue Cat Association (CARCA) is selling t-shirts to raise funds for CARCA 2, the sequel to the short film about Steve Ruskay, the world’s only rescue cat trainer. They are available in human and cat sizes for $25 at www.carca.ca