The Whistler Nordics cross-country ski club is looking to increase its membership and profile in the community this year by introducing a new social event to the club calendar.
Starting on Jan. 12, if there is enough snow on the Lost Lake Cross Country Trails, the Whistler Nordics will be hosting Thursday night Loonie Races based loosely on the successful mountain bike races held by the Whistler Off Road Cycling Association.
Every Thursday the Nordics will host a fun race or contest under the lights at Lost Lake, which will be followed by food and refreshments provided by sponsors.
With only one section lighted at night the range of trails is limited, but the Whistler Nordics are looking at different ways to mix things up. Some ideas include swapping classic and skate styles every lap, racing laps without poles, and using head lamps to open up other trails.
"There will be racers and the races will be challenging, but the goal is more to create a fun and social event for the cross-country community that everyone can do," said Carolyn Rodger, who is co-ordinating the race series for the Whistler Nordics.
The club also plans to offer free ski tips every Thursday through the Cross Country Connection.
In the beginning the club hopes to get about 20 participants out to race each week, then grow the event in subsequent weeks. The skills clinics would help to get skiers to the point where they can take part in the races.
While there are numerous benefits for increasing membership in the club, the main focus is building capacity within the local Nordic skiing community for 2010.
When the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games arrive, the Nordic skiing events cross-country, biathlon, ski jumping, and Nordic combined will need hundreds of skilled volunteers. The more people that get into racing now and volunteer to help host test events, the better prepared the Whistler Nordics will be to supply some of those volunteers.
The Whistler Nordics will also be one of the host clubs of the Whistler Nordic Centre in the Callaghan before and after the Olympic Games, but according to VANOC Nordic director John Aalberg there wont be a lasting legacy for the area unless the venue gets strong local support.
The Whistler Nordics would also like to use their membership to help expand the trail system at Lost Lake, possibly with more trails, more lights and even snowmaking.
Everyone who signs up to become a member will receive a membership in Cross Country B.C., an edition of Ski Cross Country magazine, and an admission into any CCBC sanctioned race. It also includes the Loonie Race series, with a $2 entry fee, as well as the free skiing tips on Thursday nights.
Registration will get underway at 5:30 p.m. outside of the Lost Lake Ticket Booth, and races get underway at 6 p.m. Memberships will be available at the events.
If you are interested in sponsoring a Whistler Nordics Loonie Race or would like to sign up for the Whistler Nordics contact Carolyn Rodger at 604-932-5030.