Sparwood’s Sunset Ridge Ski Society (SRSS) is in full swing, and despite the minimal snow, is welcoming and encouraging members of the community to enjoy and learn cross-country skiing.
Established in 1995 the SRSS was formed to manage the cross-country ski trails after the downhill ski hill ceased operation. Over the years, hundreds of hours by many volunteers have been dedicated to seeing the SRSS keep active and the trails maintained for users.
“We are really excited about the new five year land use agreement with the District of Sparwood, on what is known as the Westwood Lands, located across from our current trails, behind the Mormon Church and Baptist Church,” said Shelly Hume, Sunset Ridge Ski Society Director. “This now will add approximately three kilometers of beginner trails. The trails we currently have are more intermediate level and cater to classic and skate skiing so we are very pleased to be able to offer beginner level terrain next year.”
In efforts to assist those who are not familiar with the sport, the Society has arranged a Family Fun Day on Feb. 7 from 12 to 3 p.m., where skis will be available for adults and kids to borrow, as well as instructors to give tips on how to get started.
“During the event we will also have a bonfire, scavenger hunt for kids, hot dogs and hot chocolate, all absolutely free,” said Hume. “We really want to let people know that everyone is welcome and help those who have never tried cross-country skiing before to see what an amazing sport it is, as well as how lucky we are to have all of these fantastic trails in our community.”
As would be expected with all the forward movement of the SRSS, there have been challenges over the years, mainly a lack of snow, damage to trails by snowmobiles and quads, vandalism, ensuring people pay drop-in and membership fees as well as ensuring there are enough volunteers to make it all happen.
“It is expensive to operate this club, and membership fees allow us to continue to groom and improve trails. It is very important to purchase memberships as these fees not only go towards operating the club, but $19 of each membership goes to Cross Country BC and Cross Country Canada. Currently, we have 58 members but we would really like to see that number reach 75 to 100 this year,” said Hume. “Also, we always encourage people to help by volunteering in ways of trail maintenance, assisting with special events, or sitting on the Board as every little bit helps make a big difference,” Hume said.