Time to think about options for expansion

Jamie-Shinkewski.webThere’s a lot of excitement buzzing around Sun Peaks this season.

The race centre has never been busier, the freestyle club earned multiple medals at their first competition and Sun Peaks’ first FIS ski cross race took place in December.

Now, discussions have begun for which facilities to expand next.

Expanding the race centre likely comes at the top of the priority list, but the increased success of one season doesn’t necessarily justify the increased cost of snowmaking for more alpine race training lanes.

However, the centre is beginning to attract clubs from across Canada, as well as more high performance racers, and according to sports director Vincent Lafontaine, many of these teams have expressed interest in returning.

Race lanes open on Sundance once snow guns are available, but another mentioned option is to open the lower section of Cariboo for racers. It would keep everything in close proximity and still allow teams to use the Elevation chair, but the snowmaking capacity would need to be increased.

The success of the freestyle club is also going to create a demand for expansion.

The club only features seven skiers but growth is imminent and the development of a mogul course is a must.

It will be hard for a young club to compete with nearby established programs such as Silver Star and Whistler without being able to train for all three disciplines.

Five team members competed in Apex at the beginning of January and they each competed in moguls despite having no prior training. There is room at the bottom of current mogul runs such at 5th Avenue or Intimidator, but it will require time and manpower to create a safe training area.

Another course that’s in ongoing discussion for expansion is ski cross.

The national NextGen development ski cross team created a temporary course on OSV for the World Cup race, but to make Sun Peaks an annual stop it will require a permanent facility.

Willy Raine, the athletic director for Canada Ski Cross, wants to see public ski cross courses across Canada. Anyone could ski such a course and it could be easily changed into a high level track for races.

The Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nations Snowboard Team could also make good use of the permanent track. Six or seven members of this year’s team will compete in boardercross, but have no course to train on.

A low grade slope is required for this course and Raine mentioned during his visit that there are a lot of options with viable terrain on the Sundance chair lift.

Feasibility, cost and public demand will likely play important factors in determining which expansion the ski hill sees first.

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