Last season Cross Country Connection owners Chris Waller and Ian Goldstone held the first ever Lost Lake Shuffle, a four-hour endurance and relay race, to generate some excitement for Nordic skiing in Whistler.
By all measures the event was a success, drawing a field 65 skiers of all ages and abilities. For most of the participants, it was a fun day to be out on skis. Others took it a little more seriously: James Shaw, the winner of the mens solo category, completed a full 25 laps of a 3.5 kilometre course in the time allowed, averaging about 22 km/h.
"It was really quite impressive," said Waller. "The top skiers together skied over 1,500 kilometres."
Goldstone and Waller are expecting many of the skiers from the first Shuffle to return this year, and bring their friends with them.
"For some people it was the highlight of the ski season," explained Waller.
Although they could probably grow the event into something a lot larger, theyre taking one step at a time. They capped the number of entries for this years shuffle at 100, and based on the early response, they expect the event to sell out.
Competitors can race in the mens or womens solo category or as part of a team of three all male, all female, mixed or junior. Solo and team competitors will race on a 4 km track around Lost Lake.
There is also a three-member family category which will be competing on a shorter 2 km course.
"The late start to the cross country trails this season may have a bit of an effect on the solo categories, so were expecting more teams," said Waller. "People just havent had the time to put in the miles on their skis, and we think most would rather race in a group than as an individual."
In addition to the endurance race and relay, Goldstone and Waller are also planning a few surprise challenges that will be announced on race day.
"The main event is still the Shuffle, but well have some things going on on the side. Its a fun event most of all, no ones super competitive," Waller said.
"We wanted to bring more people to cross country skiing, so we created a fun event to attract people, while raising money for the local Jackrabbits club. That was really the best thing we could do for the cross country community because (the Jackrabbits) is where the community really begins."
Entry forms to the Shuffle will be available at local businesses this week, and at the Cross Country Connection hut by the Lost Lake ticket booth. Waller is urging people to sign up in advance if they want to be guaranteed a spot this year.
The event takes place on Saturday, Jan. 18, starting and finishing at the Lost Lake warming hut in Lost Lake Park. The event will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The cost is $60 for a team, $25 for a solo racer, and $45 for a family. After Jan. 17, prices go up to $75, $30, and $55 respectively.
For more information, or registration, visit the Cross Country Connection Web site at www.crosscountryconnection.bc.ca.