Reijo, Sheila Kealey, Ingrid Hagberg

The cross country ski community is profoundly saddened by the passing of Reijo Puiras, founder of Lappe Nordic Ski Centre and a legend in the Thunder Bay ski community.

Reijo’s commitment to cross country skiing began as an athlete. As a member of the Canadian National Team from 1974 to 1987, Reijo competed in the 1976 Olympics and the 1974 Falun World Championships. Winner of 9 National medals, Reijo also dominated locally skiing locally in Thunder Bay winning 10 consecutive City Championships.

In 1975, Reijo began cutting trails on his property in Lappe, just west of Thunder Bay. He shared his trails with training partners and for 38 years, the entire ski community. Eventually they outgrew the original 3 km and in 1979, Reijo founded the Lappe Nordic Ski Centre. The trail system has grown to over 14 km with 7km lit for night skiing. Reijo was inducted into the NWO Sports Hall of Fame in 1993 as a builder. Reijo’s touch has extended far beyond the Thunder Bay area. Reijo has provided the entire Canadian ski community a world class facility for our enjoyment, both recreationally and for competitions. Lappe Ski Centre and the Lappe Ski Club has hosted local, provincial and national events and most recently was the site of the 2015 Ski Nationals and the 2013 World Junior/U23 Trials.

Racing was always his passion, and the Ski Centre has had multiple improvements over the years to enhance the race facility. He has mentored race organizers and officials in the Thunder Bay area. His commitment to excellence is evident in his attention to detail during a race. During the ski season, the grooming at Lappe is second to none. Reijo played a leadership role in each and every major race hosted at the Ski Centre and is the grandfather of the ‘Lappe Standard’, an measurement of hosting excellence in the Canadian racing scene.

Funeral services will be held on Friday, August 11 at 11am at Hilldale Lutheran Church, 321 Hilldale Rd, Thunder Bay, ON.

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