BC Cross-Country Ski Championships go this weekend at Larch Hills

More than 400 skiers have entered this final race in the BC Cup series, from young children through masters categories to university teams.

Phil Wright has a laugh while instructing his Nordic student at Larch Hills on how to get up after a fall.

Phil Wright has a laugh while instructing his Nordic student at Larch Hills on how to get up after a fall.

Saturdays in the Larch Hills are filled with such colour and excitement with so many activities taking place.

Ski Team members start arriving about 9:30 a.m. to get their wax on and tested before the 10 a.m. start of their practice. More than 50 skiers are on the team with five coaches taking charge.

We are so fortunate to have such dedication to the youth from all these qualified coaches. They make the sessions fun while imparting skills and knowledge. The Challenge Group, about eight skiers who head out on an adventure every week with their leader Lorne Hunter, also gathers at 10 a.m. This past Saturday he took them up to the North Hub and then down Treebeards. Off-set track has been wonderful this winter and the gang had a great ski down this favourite trail.

Then the Jackrabbits come in droves for their 10:30 a.m. session – 120 Jackrabbits and Bunnies with 16 leaders. Each child heads for his/her group designated by the flag of their chosen country this year and the fun begins.

I have subbed in three different levels from the 4 to 6-year -old Level 1, who are far from beginners – we took them up to the South Hub to work on their double-pole skills, then for a treat headed down to Gullan’s Gulley and along to Camel’s Hump which, as we all know, is a challenging huge downhill with a dip at the bottom then huge up. Trick is to let your skis run so you get up the speed down to get enough momentum to make it up the other side. These kids were terrific!

Last week I helped Louis-Marc with his Level 4 group. With the capable assistance of my granddaughter Maggie, we honed the skating skills of this gang. Although I know the skills involved in the various skating techniques, I am not terribly comfortable with skating – crazy given my speed skating background.

It was an inspiration to see these kids skating with ease and switching seamlessly from one technique to the other. Then we hit the playground – a favourite place among this group – to challenge themselves on the jump at the bottom. Most were definitely airborne.

Many Saturdays Phil Wright is out with his varied group of skiers who contact him for some guidance on the hill and on cross-country skills. He has playfully dubbed these folks the “Terribly Terrified” and is thrilled when they have managed to conquer that fear, and many have under his capable and friendly tutelage. By half past noon the parking lot has thinned out.

Then a treat for Maggie, Max and me – we headed down the ski out. What a blast! When the conditions are fast but not icy like they were on Saturday, one can’t beat the lovely downhill. We always stop at the homestead halfway down to reflect on the olden days – both on the homestead and on the former access to the ski hill, which was the ski out road. Hot chocolate at John’s caps the day.

How thrilling to get the news down the wire that our Alysson Marshall has been top Canadian finisher in her races in Europe. A seventh place in the sprints then a 15th in the 10-km classic, won by a speedster from Sweden. Congrats to Alysson!

The BC Championships run this weekend in the Larch Hills. More than 300 skiers have entered and a cadre of those wonderful Larch Hills volunteers are making it happen. Wish us luck in maintaining our top club status and keeping the Club Championship trophy won last year.2012-02-16

Salmon Arm Observer

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