Kurstun Smith skied a 5km race in the SuperRec men’s division.                                 Photo courtesy of Travis Lord and the Fernie Nordic Society.

Kurstun Smith skied a 5km race in the SuperRec men’s division. Photo courtesy of Travis Lord and the Fernie Nordic Society.

Athletes brave bitter cold for Fernie’s Teck Kootenay Cup

It’s not the first time Old Man Winter has tried to put a stop to the Teck Kootenay Cup race in Fernie.

This year however, despite heavy snowfall and an average temperature of minus 18 degrees, the race went off without a hitch.

“It’s very cold,” said Scott Dressler, an engineer with Teck Coal Ltd.’s Fording River operations who was the company representative for the event. “We’ve arranged a lot of warming spots for people.”

The Teck Kootenay Cup race in Fernie was cancelled last year because of a freak freezing rain event, which shut down roads and made skiing conditions virtually impossible.

This year, Fernie hosted the very first race of the season.

“This is a great event because it gets a lot of active people together in a friendly and competitive environment,” said Dressler.

He said the volunteers this year worked very hard to ensure the event could continue, regardless of conditions.

“A lot of contingency plans were put in place to make sure the athletes were comfortable,” said Dressler.

With approximately 70 competitors on Saturday and Sunday each, racers of all ages and skill levels raced the course at the Elk Valley Nordic Centre, with a maximum distance of 13km.

The Cross Country British Columbia (CCBC) regulations state that races must be cancelled if the temperature dips below minus 20 Celsius.

“It was determined safe to go ahead at minus 15,” said Madi Bragg, the administrator of Fernie Nordic Society.

On Sunday skiers age divisions from Midgets to Masters raced, with skiers from Fernie and Nelson dominating the podium.

The next Teck Kootenay Cup race is in Kimberley on Jan 13 and 14.