As snow continues to blanket the Elk Valley, Fernie’s Nordic skiing season is off to its earliest start ever, with the Fernie Nordic Centre’s trails already groomed and open as of Nov. 13.
“As soon as we got some good snow last week we opened the trails – it didn’t stay very good, but it’s open and we’re ready to go,” said treasurer of the Fernie Nordic Society, Matthieu Corriveau.
As it stands, all nine kilometres of the Elk Valley Nordic Centre’s trails are groomed and open, with the trails by the Fernie Golf Club remaining closed until conditions improve. This said, Corriveau is grateful for the early season conditions exceeding their expectations.
Whether it’s due to ample November snow or pandemic effects, according to Corriveau this season has surpassed the Nordic Society’s anticipated membership rates, with over 915 skiers already having purchased their passes – a number typical for December.
“We’re ahead of last year by weeks, it’s incredible, we’re probably going to reach the level we were at the end of last year before Christmas,” said Corriveau, who attributes the increase in memberships to the socially distant nature of Nordic skiing.
“We noticed that in March last year, when the ski hill closed, the number of activities that were possible for people were restricted, but skiing outdoors on the trails was still open and people enjoyed it.”
Though the newly released COVID-19 regulations allow residents to continue hitting the trails, they do affect the Fernie Nordic Society’s upcoming lessons and events.
“We are counting on people to stay apart and not get into groups while skiing, but otherwise the main thing it’s affecting is our kids’ lessons and the activities of the race team,” said Corriveau, who explained that weekly kids’ ski lessons will be replaced by socially distant activities, adult lessons will likely operate with reduced capacity, and competitive athletes will still train despite not being able to compete for the time being.
That said, the Nordic Centre’s warming hut will be closed to the public this winter.
“As the season progresses, we expect to have more people arriving to the trails, and we want to make sure that people stay away from other groups and other bubbles to make it safer – otherwise we hope that people enjoy being outdoors.”
Anyone looking to get involved with the Fernie Nordic Society as a volunteer, athlete, or to just simply enjoy slicing through the snow can purchase a membership on their website at Fernienordic.com.