Whistler is likely still six to eight weeks away from the start of the cross-country ski season, but interest is already running high.
The Whistler Nordics hosted their annual general meeting at Myrtle Philip school last week, and were amazed when 50 people turned up to purchase memberships and get updates on the Nordic facilities in the Callaghan Valley. A usual meeting would see 15 to 20 members come out, according to president Tom Barratt.
The early bird rate for memberships, $20 instead of $30, also expired at the meeting, with the Nordics pre-registering a record 100 members. That’s up to five times as many as would typically be registered this early in the season.
Barratt says there are two reasons for the growing level of interest in the Whistler Nordics.
The first is interest in the Callaghan Nordic Centre, which will be opening to the public this winter. As well, The Nordics will be assisting Cross Country B.C. and Cross Country Canada in producing the first round of test events for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The Canadian National Championships-North American Juniors Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined will be held in the Callaghan from Jan 2 to 5, 2008, a B.C. Cup Cross Country event will be Jan 19 and 20, the FIS Cup Ski Jumping will be held Feb. 27 and 28, the Continental Cup Ski Jumping will be Feb. 29 to March 2, the Canadian National Championships Cross Country will be March 16 to 23 and the Canadian National Championships Biathlon will be March 25 and 30.
“The Callaghan is going to be opening in December, and there will be people running around skiing, jumping and shooting,” said Barratt. “That has created a certain level of excitement in the community for this winter, as well as the fact that (representatives of the Vancouver Organizing Committee, or VANOC) have invited the club to come and use the new facilities.
“I think there’s also interest in volunteering and being part of everything that’s going on, and one of the ways to do that is to be part of a club.”
It’s still unclear whether that will require Nordic skiers to purchase a separate pass, or whether a combined pass will be available to use both the Lost Lake and Callaghan trails. Roger Weetman, recreation coordinator for the Resort Municipality of Whistler, spoke at the meeting and said the plan for a dual pass will be brought to council in the next month for their consideration. Rob Bernhardt of VANOC said the organization anticipates a dual cross-country pass will be available.
Finalizing a pass arrangement will allow the Nordics to plan programming in the Callaghan, including courses for Bunnies (ages 4 to 6), Jackrabbits (ages 6 to 12), and youth aged 10 and up that are more advanced.
“That would allow our youth programs and rabbits to be able to avail ourselves to a higher level of coaching,” said Barratt.
Another reason for growing membership is the popularity of the Nordic Twoonie races, based on the Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association’s popular Loonie race series. Details and dates for the upcoming season will be announced in the next few weeks at http://nordictwoonies.blogspot.com .
“The Twoonies are not a hardcore race, it’s very much a fun and participation thing,” said Barratt. “Some nights last year we were getting more kids than adults. It’s like the Loonie races in that the faster skiers are competitive with each other, but mostly it’s just a bunch of people going out for a ski.”
The Whistler Nordics are also committed to developing cross-country skiing in the Sea to Sky corridor, along with clubs in Vancouver, Pemberton and the new club in Squamish.
“We’re very much engaged in that side of things, anything that can bring more people, more interest, and more resources to skiers,” said Barratt. “We still have a long way to go. The Nordic clubs in the Interior are huge, with 1,500 to 1,800 members, and are bigger than all of us put together — Vancouver, Squamish, Pemberton and Whistler.
“Numbers are important to ensuring the viability of the legacy trails (in the Callaghan Valley), I think we all want to keep that going after 2010.” The Whistler Nordics will be helping to produce two events this year, the 27 th annual Whistler Loppet on the Lost Lake trails, and a Coast Cup series race in the Callaghan. Barratt says he would like to see the Loppet stay in Lost Lake in the future, and for another event to be created in the Callaghan that would complement one of Whistler’s oldest races. The 2008 Whistler Loppet will be the 29 th year for the event.
“I think we’re at the stage where we could see more of these events, instead of spreading events around,” he said.
— With files from Clare Ogilvie
RMOW releases Lost Lake trail passes
The Resort Municipality of Whistler released ticket and pass prices to the Lost Lake trail network this week.
Early bird passes will be available for $168 for adults, $100.80 for youths, and $84 for children. Children 5 and under are free. Family passes for two adults and their children are $336.
The early bird passes will be on sale starting Nov. 1 at Meadow Park Sports Centre, and will be available until Nov. 30. After that period pass prices go up to $210 for adults, $126 for youth, $105 for children, and $420 for families.
This year locals will also be able to purchase discounted passes through the Whistler Chamber of Commerce’s Spirit Program. Those passes are available for $147 for adults only.
In addition there are passes for night skiing only, which gets underway at 3 p.m. daily. Passes are $105 for adults, $63 for youth, $52.50 for children and $210 for families. Spirit Night passes are available for $73.50.
Individual day tickets range from $15 for adults to $7.50 for children, and night tickets range from $7.50 to $3.75 respectively. Books of five passes and 10 passes are available, as well as Ultra passes that provide access to cross-country trails and Meadow Park Sports Centre.