By Steve Hubrecht

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Members of the Toby Creek Nordic Ski Club hosted another successful high-altitude early season camp at Panorama Mountain Resort recently.

The camp was held over three days from Friday, Nov. 24 to Sunday, Nov. 26 and drew 20 young nordic skiers from the Columbia Valley and from other East Kootenay nordic ski clubs.

Toby Creek Nordic Ski Club member Lyle Wilson, who coached at the camp, told the Pioneer that the snow conditions were challenging, but that the young skiers made the most of it and had a blast.

This year was the fourth edition of the annual camp. In previous years the nordic skiers had been able to ski at very high altitude on tracks set along the ridge extending from Panorama’s summit.

Isothermic snow at the summit in late November meant the groomer was going through the snow right down to the rocks below and so couldn’t set tracks there, explained Wilson. Instead, the camp took place on mostly man-made snow near the base area, close to the Poma lift.

“The snow conditions made for some difficult skiing, but the camp was fun. The kids had a great time and some of them really developed their skills,” said Wilson. “Most of the time was spent on skate skiing, but there were relays, games and a wax clinic. The level of activity was high.”

Saturday night the Toby Creek Nordic Ski Club organized a spaghetti dinner at the Columbia Valley Centre in Invermere for camp attendees.

The camp initially was just for the Toby Creek Nordic Ski Club, but in 2022 it was expanded to a regional camp for other East Kootenay nordic clubs, and drew 40 to 45 kids. 

The drop in participant numbers this year was reflective of the snow conditions when the camp was held, surmised Wilson. There were several coaches at the camp from the Toby Creek Nordic Ski Club, one from the Kimberley Nordic Ski Club, and Cross Country B.C. (CCBC) development squad head coach Adam Elliot.

The nonprofit Toby Creek club’s well known youth programs are set to start in the new year. But Wilson and fellow club member Candace Bruins also drew attention to the club’s adult ski program. The adult program is still relatively new, having begun in 2021. 

This year the adult program will include three groups at three different levels: Starters (for those new to nordic skiing or just returning to it after a long absence); Intermediate (for those with a few years of nordic experience beneath their skis); and Loppet Ready (which focuses on loppet race training at a masters level, with drills, race techniques, and encouraged participation in the club loppet at the end of January and the Golden Loppet in February).

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