A cross country skiing trail that will challenge even the fittest and fastest skiers has proven no match for two East Kootenay teens.
The Fernie Nordic Society hosted the Teck Kootenay Cup #3 and #4 at the Elk Valley Nordic Centre on Saturday and Sunday.
The centre is known for its varied terrain and challenging hills, and this year a speed trap was set up on one of the most notorious sections called The Runt.
Fernie’s Mac Dressler and Sydney Wilson of Kimberley proved they were the fastest of the pack, charging up the hill in 3:23.5 and 3:43.5 respectively. The teens also went uncontested in the junior boys and girls 5km events.
Fifty-nine skiers took part in the free technique event, racing distances ranging from 175 metres (Bunnyrabbits) to 7.7km. In the classic technique event, there were 48 racers who had the additional challenge of waxing for a variety of conditions with sunny breaks between snow squalls.
Skiers ranged in age from four to 74, with the oldest racer – Fernie’s Micheline Picard – posting a new personal best of 58:40.5 for the 7.7km loop.
Most were locals or from nearby Kimberley, however, some came from as far as Missoula, Montana, and Scotland.
“We are thrilled with the participation of the Fernie club and community in this year’s Kootenay Cup Race,” said Chief of Race Virginia Robinson.
“Despite the challenging weather days before the race, our grooming team was able to deliver great course conditions. A huge thanks to all of our volunteers for their efforts over the past weekend and the weeks leading up.”
For the first time, ankle timing chips were used with a fully computerized online timing system. Robinson said this streamlined and simplified the timing process, and made The Runt speed trap possible.
The equipment was bought by Cross Country BC with funding from the BC Games Society for all clubs across the province to use free of charge.
Course elevation profiles were also available for the first time for all race course distances, including the unique profiles for the two directions of racing, with free technique racers moving counter-clockwise and classic skiers clockwise.
This year, the race route took skiers across Teck Bridge then up The Runt. From there, they enjoyed the dense forest of the Galloway Loop and returned back to the base area via a descent of The Grunt.
The Kootenay Cup circuit continues in Kimberley this weekend then in Nelson next month. Robinson said there are many other local events to look forward to.
“We are also hosting a Birkie this spring, which is a unique 50km fun ski featuring a ride up the Deer Chair to access the Fernie Alpine Resort trails,” she said.
“We have a number of full moon skis and Toonie Races also happening this winter, and we encourage skiers of all skill levels to join these fun community events.”