Cross-Country Skiing to the Canada Games with Isaac Fortin

Every two years, the top athletes from across the country come together to compete at the Canada Winter Games.


Isaac Fortin, a second-year Conservation and Sustainability student at the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism, was one of these athletes. Isaac, who began cross-country skiing when he was six, represented Team Ontario as one of 12 Nordic skiers. The 2023 Canada Winter Games took place in Prince Edward Island from February 18 to March 5.


“It was a really great experience overall but very different from any other race experience I’ve had before,” said Isaac. “It was my first time at a big multisport event with the full athletes’ village and everything. The organizers really try to give it an ‘Olympic’ feeling, and they did a great job!”


One highlight of the experience for Isaac was getting to know the rest of the Ontario Ski Team during his time in PEI. Since the team was selected specifically for this event, they were a mix of athletes who would normally not ski together. As a result, the Canada Games gave Isaac the opportunity to get to know his teammates on a more personal level and create some unforgettable memories.

Photo of Isaac Fortin cross-country skiing
Isaac Fortin (bib 25), left, competes in the classic sprint at the Canada Winter Games. Photo by Josée Basque.

Isaac competed in the men’s 10 km classic, the 1.2 km sprint, and the 15 km free. He was also part of the 4 x 5 km Free Relay Mix, where his team placed eighth out of 28 teams.


“Being able to compete for Team Ontario at the Games was a really big goal of mine that started around this time a year ago. I was really happy to have set a big seasons goal almost a year in advance and have it come together in the end. The last individual race at the games was a skate mass start and I was able to ski into the top 20—17th place—out of about 65 athletes. This was something I was really proud of, I felt that I had met my goal of competing at the games but then also proved that I belonged there, skiing with a lot of the top skiers from the other provinces,” said Isaac.


Originally from Peterborough, he began cross-country skiing with the Jackrabbit program at his local ski club as a child. Then he began competing when he was 12.  


While his 2023 competition season wraps up at the end of March, even once the snow melts, Isaac can be found training year-round. His training typically involves three official team practices and two strength sessions per week. A typical week varies from eight to 20 hours of training, with the bulk of the training taking place during the summer months.


Along with a passion for cross-country skiing, Isaac also grew up enjoying drawing, math, and physics. He was drawn towards studying architecture because of the balance it strikes between those disciplines.  


As a member of the Carleton University Ravens Varsity Nordic Ski Team, Isaac is no stranger to balancing school and skiing. However, this winter term posed more of a challenge than usual with the Canadian Ski Nationals in Thunder Bay taking place right after the Canada Games.


“With Canada Games and then Nationals, I was away from school for a really long time. Fortunately, I knew well ahead of time and was able to make plans with all my professors well in advance. Planning everything ahead of time and trying my best to keep up remotely while I was away worked the best,” shared Isaac.


“My biggest goal is to continue to improve my training and ski at a high level but at the same time continue to pursue architecture at a high level. I really like my program, and it’s definitely not the easiest to balance at times, but I enjoy the challenge of the balance. I would also love to win the Ontario University Athletics banner for Carleton during my time racing here.”

Isaac fortin cross country skiing at the Canada Winter Games
Isaac Fortin (bib #18) at the skate mass start at the Canada Winter Games. Photo by Josée Basque.