Ski mountaineering race coming to Fernie

On Jan. 23 contestants will compete for top spot at the inaugural Lizard Skinner ski mountaineering race at Fernie Alpine Resort.

On Jan. 23 contestants will compete for top spot at the inaugural Lizard Skinner ski mountaineering (SkiMo) race at Fernie Alpine Resort (FAR). The laid back event is aimed at recreationalists but also offers a competitive category.

“We would like the ski mountaineering race to be leaning towards the more fun side of racing. We want it to be casual and recreational and make sure people are having fun,” said Mark Gallup, local race coordinator and part owner of The Guides Hut in Fernie. “There is a competitive side to the race as well as masters, juniors, and recreation. The race will have at least two ups, one boot pack, and of course downs – two or three depending.”

The course is not a `for sure’, it will depend on race day conditions.

“It is at Fernie Alpine Resort, because of the early stage right now and because of the nature of the resort we cannot give a green light on a route right now,” said Gallup. “This is because of avalanche conditions, and what is open. We have a really good idea of what we want for a course, we just need it approved by the head of ski patrol.”

Gallup hopes to see a healthy number of participants for the event’s first year. Registration will be online, using a website that is also used for other events like bike races.

“You can sign up on Zone4.ca. It is a company based out of Canmore that registers for competitions and events and club related things.  Tears and Gears for example, will use Zone4.  It is a quick online way to register and we are planning for 40 or 50 people.”

There are people who have signed up already. Some come from out of province and will be looking to add the Lizard Skinner SkiMo to their circuit series.

“I noticed some of the registrants are from Alberta, there are people that will be following other ski mountaineering races across western Canada,” said Gallup.

While Gallup is the coordinator on the ground, the event also has input from Alpine Canada and is a part of a national race challenge.

“It is a ski mountaineering challenge of Canada and also in partnership with Alpine Canada, they are the ones who are making it happen. I am the local race coordinator who is trying to pull together the route itself and volunteers,” said Gallup.

The event was rolled into the Kokanee Snow Dreams Festival. The event was voted best deck party in Canada by Ski Canada magazine and is sure to be great again this year. The SkiMo is all about having fun, and that is what the festival is for, so the organizers decided to put the two together.

“We decided to do it during the Kokanee event because it is kind of like a party and that’s what we want out of the SKiMO. People having fun. We want a nice, cool scene so the start and finish is right in the middle of the plaza area and that is going to get people involved,” said Gallup.