By Phil McLachlan
The Fernie Snowmobile Association (FSA) hosted their first annual snowmobile Gear Swap and Show and Shine in mid-November, and it proved to be a successful event.
With over 200 members in the FSA, over 100 people made an appearance to both sell gear and show off their machines.
“We’ve had a lot more people then we expected for our first one,” said David Hozjan, Vice President of the FSA.
The Gear Swap & Show and Shine started early in the morning, and people took advantage of the fresh morning air in accompaniment with a warm pancake breakfast, paid for by donation to local charity, Friends for Friends.
Hozjan is seeing a growing number of young people being introduced into the snowmobile culture, and believes that social events like this are a good way to bring people together that haven’t seen each other in a long time.
Snowmobiling is also starting to be a growing trend in the area of Fernie, and Hozjan is seeing a cross-over between this sport and other activities such as backcountry ski touring. Hozjan originally got into snowmobiling for this exact reason, when he moved to Fernie in 1998. Since then, he has fallen in love with it.
“Getting out of town,” is the most rewarding part of snowmobiling to Hozjan.
“Getting away and getting into the mountains where these machines take you. It’s pretty amazing. It’s really enjoyable.”
For newcomers looking for a nice day trip in the hills, Hozjan recommends traveling up to the Coal Creek staging area, and further still to the rolling hills cabin.
With the positive results of this year’s event, Hozjan believes the FSA will continue to host it in the future.
“It’s been received well,” he said.
Upcoming events for the FSA include sled drags, full-moon rides, multiple poker runs, as well as avalanche training on January 19 during avalanche days. Winter has officially arrived, and the FSA is ramping up for another great year of sledding in the Elk Valley. Last year they welcomed over 7000 day-use snowmobilers to the Fernie region, from areas across western Canada and the United States, in addition to over 200 local members. On average, the snowmobilers chose to stay a total of three nights, which generated several hundred thousand dollars in revenue, some of which was recycled back into the Fernie economy.
The FSA hosted several events this year including the Fernie Snowmobile Drags which attracted over 600 spectators. This event is planned to happen again this coming February. There was also a sold-out spring ride weekend at Island Lake Lodge, and several organized family rides and other events through the season. The FSA works with their partners and volunteers to provide more than 166km of quality groomed trails, signage, three public-use warming cabins and community events including safety programs and training.