Whistler is likely still six to eight weeks away from the start of the cross-country ski season, but interest is already running high.
The Whistler Nordics hosted their annual general meeting at Myrtle Philip school last week, and were amazed when 50 people turned up to purchase memberships and get updates on the Nordic facilities in the Callaghan Valley. A usual meeting would see 15 to 20 members come out, according to president Tom Barratt.
The early bird rate for memberships, $20 instead of $30, also expired at the meeting, with the Nordics pre-registering a record 100 members. That’s up to five times as many as would typically be registered this early in the season.
Barratt says there are two reasons for the growing level of interest in the Whistler Nordics.
The first is interest in the Callaghan Nordic Centre, which will be opening to the public this winter. As well, The Nordics will be assisting Cross Country B.C. and Cross Country Canada in producing the first round of test events for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The Canadian National Championships-North American Juniors Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined will be held in the Callaghan from Jan 2 to 5, 2008, a B.C. Cup Cross Country event will be Jan 19 and 20, the FIS Cup Ski Jumping will be held Feb. 27 and 28, the Continental Cup Ski Jumping will be Feb. 29 to March 2, the Canadian National Championships Cross Country will be March 16 to 23 and the Canadian National Championships Biathlon will be March 25 and 30.
“The Callaghan is going to be opening in December, and there will be people running around skiing, jumping and shooting,” said Barratt. “That has created a certain level of excitement in the community for this winter, as well as the fact that (representatives of the Vancouver Organizing Committee, or VANOC) have invited the club to come and use the new facilities.
“I think there’s also interest in volunteering and being part of everything that’s going on, and one of the ways to do that is to be part of a club.”
It’s still unclear whether that will require Nordic skiers to purchase a separate pass, or whether a combined pass will be available to use both the Lost Lake and Callaghan trails. Roger Weetman, recreation coordinator for the Resort Municipality of Whistler, spoke at the meeting and said the plan for a dual pass will be brought to council in the next month for their consideration. Rob Bernhardt of VANOC said the organization anticipates a dual cross-country pass will be available.