After a slow start, without much snow, the Smithers Ski and Snowboard, Biathalon and the Cross Country clubs are now in full swing.
The SSSC kicked off their season on Jan. 4 and 5, with an opening day program designed to assess each student’s skill level in order to place them at the correct level for their lessons.
“It was our first big weekend, we like to get them all up there and see where their skills are at,” program director Jan Wengelin said. “By taking two days it gives us extra time to make sure they are slotted into the right groups.”
Rather than determining groupings by age, as they have in previous years, the club now divides the students based on skill level.”
In recent years, the club has also changed its focus from a being a racing-centric club to one more focused on teaching skiers and snowboarders of all levels.
“Our direction is somewhat different than it once was,” Wengelin said.
“Our philosophy is designed to give the kids a love of skiing and snowboarding so that they can utilize the mountain, so that it’s something they will enjoy for the rest of their lives.
As such, they’ve seen membership triple over the past three years, from 46 kids in 2011 to 100 last year to 130 this year.
The influx in members has put the need for a new clubhouse at the forefront of the club’s agenda.
“The club cabin is 38-years-old now and it’s starting to fall apart. Also, with so many members now, we can barely fit them into the building.”
Through sponsorship and fundraising, the club hopes to raise the $125,000 necessary for the project by next spring, when they hope to break ground on the new structure.
They’ve started a fundraising committee that has created a donation package for local businesses. So far they’ve raised $40,000 through major donations from BV Electric and Northern Sun Development.
In addition to private funding, the club plans to seek out government grants from regional districts and higher levels of government, depending on what’s available.
“We are hoping to break ground once the snow melts in April and be able to use it starting at the beginning of next season.”
Hudson’s Bay Mountain held the SSSC’s first race of the season this past weekend, as dozens took part in the first leg of the three race Shamrock Cup.
“Its a fun thing to do,” Jan Wengelin said. “We thought we would just do it one weekend, but we have such a great time that we added two more events.”
First up was the Giant Slalom followed by the dual grand slalom on Feb. 1 and the and ski cross on Mar. 15.
At the end of the three races the points are tallied up.
The fastest skiers and boarders don’t always win though. The final standings are determined by the athletes with the most points, regardless of age or skill level.
The more serious skiers and snowboarders will use the Shamrock Cup for practice as they get ready to take part in races across the province over the winter.
The club will head to Tabor mountain for the B.C, alpine north zones, which serves as a qualifier for the Canada Winter Games.
“It’s a great opportunity for some of these kids to go down there and be a part of something like that. Some kids have never been to other mountains and
They are also planning on sending athletes to the BC Winter Games in Mission, from Feb. 21-23.
1) Darcy Fraser
1) Hannah Buchanan
2 Adriana Scott
3) Clara Marko
1) Kalum Huxtable
2) Laim Buchanan
3) Ryan Johnson
1) Enya Watson
2) Maya Buchanan
3) Kailian Smale
1) Cole Pali
2) Justin Taylor
3) Loui LeCourt
Biathletes return from Whistler:
Conditions were nasty in Whistler two weekends ago, but that played into the hands of the biathletes from the north, perhaps more used to extreme conditions than their counterparts from the south, as six Smithers skiers returned with eight medals between them.
“I was really happy, given the tough conditions on both days, I thought they did great,” head coach Peter Tweedie said.
“Every time you compete it changes your mindset, and we don’t have a lot of opportunities to race, maybe three to four times a year, so it’s hard to go into a race with expectations. All you can do is try to prepare them and train them.”
Whistler will also host the BC Winter Games biathlon event later this year, so the trip down was not only an opportunity to get some competition experience, but also a chance to check out the course in preparation for the big stage.
“We have two that have a lot of experience and four that have only been to one or two events and four had never been to that venue,” Tweedie said.
The race was the first of three Biathlon Provincial Cup series races.
The next one goes Feb. 2 in Prince George and the final installment will be held in Smithers on March 1 and 2. It’s the first race Smithers has hosted since 2005.
At each race the biathletes accumulate points based on their performance.
From an individual standpoint, Angus Tweedie is hoping to qualify for the Canada Winter Games for the second time in a row and for the Canada Biathlon championships, held in New Brunswick later this year.
Currently, he is the only youth athlete at the club old enough to be eligible for qualification.
In Whistler, Angus raised up an age group and finished second in the youth men 10 km mass start.
Whistler sprint results:
4) Ivan Hanchard, 16:25.5
Junior Girls 4.5 km:
2) Amanda Wilson, 28:43.5
Junior Boys 4.5 km:
2) Seton Kriese, 24:41.2
Juvenile 2.1 km:
3) Haley Hanchard, 16:33.7
Masters women 6km:
3) Callie Lancaster: 38:13.1
Whistler mass start results:
Juvenile 2.8 km:
2) Haley Hanchard, 19:33.2
Midget 2 km:
4) Ivan Hanchard, 15:46.8
Junior boys 6 km:
2) Seton Kriese, 29:38.6
Youth men 10 km:
2) Angus Tweedie: 40:01.2
1) Callie Lancaster: 47:42.1
Cross Country Ski Club:
Sixty competitors from around the northwest came out to Smithers in late December to compete in the first Northern Cup cross country races.
Like everyone else in the region, the Cross Country season was slow in starting, but has picked up with the recent snow.
“I think the conditions were pretty difficult to start, but we have enough snow now and our track setting crew are working hard and doing the best they can to make sure all the trails are in good shape,” cross country club member Ken Eng said.
“We are counting on getting some more snow and having a good year.”
Kids in the club range from the age of seven to 20.
The competitive racers practice two times a week, while the younger kids gets that are just getting into cross country skiing come once a week on weekends. There is also masters instruction for adults on Wednesday nights.
Competitive racers will also travel across northern B.C. to compete in the Northern Cup. The club that gets the most aggregate points at the end of the four races during the season, wins. They travelled to Vanderhoof this past weekend and will finish up the circuit in Burns Lake in February.
The club tries to balance having a mix of both serious racers competing in events and younger kids learning technique.
“The club has various segments,” Eng said. “We are trying to get as many kids from the younger ages as we can, but we also want to accommodate serious racers. We have some good, competitive skiers from around the valley. Over the years we’ve had people that have been on provincial teams and in the national program.”
Their next big event on Hudson Bay Mountain is the Chris Dahlie Open, on Feb. 14.