The Fernie Nordic Society put on their third annual Flying Viking Challenge this past Sunday. Dressed in their finest Viking attire, a total of 37 participants aged 10-71 partook in the spirited event, with some contestants coming from as far as Calgary and Lethbridge.
The racers met at the Elk Valley Nordic Centre bright and early, officially taking off at 10:40 a.m. From there, the entrants skied the Galloway Loop, up the connector trail, and to the ski hill. Once at Fernie Alpine Resort, the participants rodethe Deer Chair to reach the Silk Trail and M Trail, before returning to the Nordic Centre to complete a 25 kilometre loop.
The participants had an option to compete in either a 25 kilometre race, consisting of just one loop of the circuit, or a 50 kilometre race, going through the entire circuit twice. While the racers competed individually, many decided to make the event more social by supporting each other and skiing in groups.
“While a few people like the challenge of doing an unusually long distance in competition, most do it for fun. In fact, one group stopped for a while at the Cirque lounge for a cold one before heading back to finish their loop,” said Mattieu Corriveau, representative from the Fernie Nordic Society.
After up to five hours of sweat and slicing through snow, each participant received custom made wooden medals upon crossing the finish line. Prizes were also handed out for best costume, as well as to those who took wrong turns during the race. Donating the door prizes were the events sponsors, including GearHub, Heaven Boutique, Elevation Showcase, and Resorts of the Canadian Rockies.
While the event carried a lighthearted nature, the competitors raced hard to achieve notable times. The male and female adult winners for the 50 kilometre race were Naomi Lentz, who completed the feat in just four hours and 22 minutes, and Mike Bragg, who skied the circuit in a speedy four hours and 13 minutes. The winners for the 25 kilometre race were Virginia Robinson, who whipped around the track in two hours and 22 minutes, and Aaron Glover who finished in two hours and 49 minutes. In the youth category, competing against another two Fernie Nordic team racers, Wes Robinson-Shaw won with an impressive time of two hours and 20 minutes.
After the event, racers were encouraged to hang around and celebrate their achievements with food and refreshments at the Nordic Centre hut.
“This was the last big open ski event of the season as the trail conditions deteriorate gradually until early April. We had planned a special event in early April to recognize our many club volunteers. It will be rescheduled due to the precautions around the virus threat,” said Corriveau about future events.