The Nordic club has hosted big races in the past, but this will be the first major event since it has hosted since the Western Canadian Championships in 1986.
“We were sending athletes to races across the province for years,” said Nordic club president Dave Kaegi. “We were going to other clubs who were taking on the effort to put on races so we felt it was our turn to step up and host something.”
Stepping up has meant a huge volunteer effort for the club, with about 80 volunteers ready to help out with everything from shuttling people to and from Mt. Macpherson to running the race timing to serving at the big banquet on Saturday.
Before the club could host the championships, it had to upgrade the trail network, he said. The Titan and Dynamite trails were added to the Mickey Olson Loop to create the one and two kilometre loops that you need for Midget-level races. The club also acquired timing equipment and held a practice event around Christmas to make sure it was working.
The Teck Midgets are open for skiers born from 2000 to 2003. While it is a competitive event, skiers of all abilities are encouraged to take part and the focus is on fun and participation. In addition to the races, there will also be a banquet, dance contests, costumed mascots, draw prizes, and a gift bag for every athlete.
On top of medals for the top racers, there are also awards for technique and team spirit. Your child doesn’t have to be a racer to take part.
“The Teck Midgets is the premier event for cross country skiers of this age, but the emphasis is on participation and fun for everyone,” said Matt Smider, the coach of the Revelstoke Nordic Ski Club. “This is a low stress and friendly competition. It is a great opportunity to expose younger skiers to this fantastic sport, and to get them hooked on the wonders of nordic skiing. It is truly a lifelong sport and something that benefits every aspect of an individual’s life.”
The weekend will start Saturday morning with the 2.5-kilometre classic race. The action continues in the afternoon with the 4X1.5-kilometre classic and skate skiing relays. Saturday night is when the banquet and dance takes place at the community centre. The event wraps up with 300-metre skate spring races on Sunday.
“Cross country skiers are an incredible bunch,” said Debbie Koerber, who is handling registration for the race. “They love skiing uphill and downhill. Rosy Cheeks, big smiles, and burning lungs are pretty inspiring, especially on a nine year old.”
Of note, the Mt. Macpherson parking lot will be closed during race weekend. Instead, club members will be shuttling people to the trails from the HMC yard on Highway 23, just south of the Trans-Canada Highway.
With about 470 members, club membership has increased substantially in recent years, said Kaegi. As well, day pass sales have multiplied in recent years – a sign that tourists are using the trails as well. The Teck Midgets are expected to provide an estimated $50,000 tourism boom to town.
He said this competition should prime the club to host other races in the future and promote Revelstoke as a Nordic skiing destination.
“It’s huge, it’s a really big step forward,” he said. “Not only does it increase our skill sets to hold events, it’s also bringing people from all across the province, Alberta and Washington to come ski our trails.”
With files from Sarah Newton/Revelstoke Nordic Ski Club.