Nordic skiing has boomed this winter with season pass sales doubling over the last two years and a new attendance record set on Sun Peaks’ trails in December.
This success may be attributed to the resort hiring Phil Youwe, Sun Peaks’ first Nordic coordinator. Youwe is a long-time Nordic skier, whose relationship with Sun Peaks goes way back.
“In ‘93, a friend and I owned a twin track, and we came up and said would you mind if we set some track for our kids to cross-country ski. Since then we’ve gone to 31 kilometres of groomed trails and a well-established and growing Nordic program,” said Youwe.
The increase in Nordic skiing patrons goes hand-in-hand with a more comprehensive grooming program for the cross-country terrain at Sun Peaks.
“There used to be scheduled maintenance of just one or two days a week, and now there’s someone out there every day,” said Seth Worthen, slopes manager for Sun Peaks Resort.
“The work done in the summer months to cut back the shrub growth has meant groomers can get out there on opening day of the ski season producing a great product,” he explains.
This consistent approach to grooming has been well received by the Nordic skiers.
“When you’re out on the trails all everyone says is, ‘This is awesome,’” commented Youwe.
Jim Kenney, rentals manager for Sun Peaks Resort said the interest in Nordic skiing has also transferred to record number of Nordic rentals at Elevation Bike, Ski and Board.
“We’ve noticed a definite increase in the last couple of years for Nordic Ski equipment, particularly skate skis,” said Kenney. “There’s been an increase of 15 to 18 per cent on last year.”<br>
Youwe has coordinated a Nordic program with the local school, the Discovery Centre, as he believes it’s important to get people interested at a young age.
“We’re introducing a Nordic Program to their curriculum in February which will consist of three sessions,” he says.
He hopes the school program will promote Nordic skiing in the community and provide enough support from the children and parents to start a Sun Peaks Nordic Club, and establish a dedicated Nordic Centre.
“The club, which would originate from the community, presents the opportunity to have races, social activities and have a strong core of Nordic skiers which could result in a development program for young kids,” said Youwe.
The expanding Nordic program at Sun Peaks this season has included full moon skiing to McGillivray Cabin, a Nordic Ski Camp running Jan. 28 and 29, and the return of the Holy Cow Nordic Race on Feb. 26.
“(The Nordic Camp) is two full days of Nordic instruction. The intent will be to improve your skills, hone your technique, develop some methods for training, and the chance to have some video analysis of your technique,” explains Youwe.
“(The Holy Cow Race) is a unique race, as it starts at the top of the Morrisey Express with some mid-mountain loops and ends very near to the village.”