Warm weather wreaking havoc 

Sigge's Payak cancelled; Peak to Valley route shortened

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO BY SCOTT BRAMMER/COASTPHOTO.COM - Julia Murray is shown at last year's Peak to Valley race. This year's race has to have a short route because of a snow shortage in the valley.
  • File photo by Scott Brammer/Coastphoto.com
  • Julia Murray is shown at last year's Peak to Valley race. This year's race has to have a short route because of a snow shortage in the valley.

A lack of snow claimed freestyle and alpine ski events with short notice on Family Day weekend.

A couple weeks later, and organizers of cross-country ski loppet Sigge's P'ayakentsut (commonly known at Sigge's Payak) have decided it wasn't even going to be worth trying to get the race off.

Event chair Dirk Rohde said in a release sent out late Sunday night, Feb. 22, the race, originally scheduled for Feb. 28 and March 1, would be cancelled. Though there is enough snow for some skiing at Whistler Olympic Park, Rohde explained conditions weren't quite right for the event.

"There's not enough snow in the stadium to hold a proper start," he said in a phone interview. "Looking at the long-term forecast, there's not a lot of snow in the forecast. There's lots of sun and it's not really scheduled to cool down at all.

"We looked at possibly postponing it to the 14th and 15th (of March) but just because of the long-term forecast, it didn't make sense."

Rohde is looking forward to "a bigger and better year next year," adding toques commemorating the fifth running of the event will be given out in 2016. Those who had purchased raffle tickets will be entered into next year's draw as well.

Participants will be offered a full refund, and though the organizers had invested some money in this year's race, Rohde said the long-term viability of the event wouldn't be affected by needing to cancel it this time around.

"We don't want people to go away feeling bad and hopefully they'll come back," he said. "As a result, we have lost some money, but we have a bit of a buffer there to allow that to happen."

Rohde added there has been no consideration to schedule the race at a different time in the season, noting conditions are usually cooperative and this year is just an anomaly.

"This is a one-off year. I've never seen a year so bad, to be honest, and I've been involved with the ski club for a long, long time — about 20 years," Rohde said. "It's an El Niño year and a particularly bad one.

"This time of year is often when we get a lot of snow. The Callaghan Valley is known for its good conditions anytime from December on through to March."

The loppet, the largest in the province, had garnered about 430 registrations at the time of the decision.

Peak to Valley route shortened

Meanwhile, the Peak to Valley race this Friday and Saturday (Feb. 27 and 28) will have its route shortened because of some bare conditions near the bottom of the hill.

In an email, Whistler Blackcomb spokesperson Jill Young explained the route is expected to start in the Saddle as usual, but noted there is the possibility that could change with uncooperative weather. The route will take skiers down through Glacier Bowl to just above the Moraine before taking a skier's left of Moraine past Peak Load. Competitors will then go skier's right of the snowmaking reservoir onto Little Red Run.

On Feb. 23, Young said organizers are aiming to use a finishing route through Upper Franz, crossing H86 and finishing on Vuarnet Road. Finishing by the Franz Chair Load was initially listed as a possibility, though less desirable.

"Seb Fremont and the grooming and snowmaking teams have been working very hard to ensure that we can start as high as we can and finish as low as we can," Young wrote in an email on Feb. 20.

"Groomers have been working nightly with winch cats on some of the zones, which require additional coverage, and we all have our fingers crossed that there will be snowmaking temperatures in our future.

"Our (c)ourse (s)etters — Ken Pedersen and John Kindree are scoping out the terrain and the entire operations team is working towards making the 2015 Peak to Valley race as unique and challenging as the last 30 have been."



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