XC ski club to help get newbies on the trails

The Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club is trying to make it easier and less intimidating for new skiers to hit the trails this winter.

The Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club is trying to make it easier and less intimidating for new skiers to hit the trails this winter.

Over the next month, the club is hosting a series of free events to familiarize people with the sport, the equipment and the club’s facilities.

It is geared towards novices or first-timers, new club members or potential club members, youth or adult – anyone who wants to find out what cross-country skiing is all about.

“It’s something we’re trying to initiate because that’s something we hear a lot from people who come up here for the first time, that it can be a little overwhelming, a little intimidating,” said the club’s office and events manager, Corinna Warren. “So we want to take that factor out of it and allow them to get to know our wax room and how it works, so they can hopefully become more comfortable joining our club.”

“We’ve had the ‘wax and wine’ (events in the past) that we’ve tried to get people to come to, but even that can be intimidating to walk into and see 30 people who you think know a lot more than you do,” said club manager Mike Gladish. “(We’re) gearing it specifically towards this group and hopefully getting them comfortable this way.”

The introduction events kick off with the Coast Mountain Sports Wax and Dessert Night on Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. in the club’s wax room. Attendees, who are encouraged to bring their owns skis if they have some, will learn basic waxing techniques and ski maintenance. It will be followed by desserts.

“If you walk in on a busy day and you don’t know where to set up, you don’t know how to wax, don’t know what size your equipment is supposed to be, it can be a bit intimidating,” said Warren. “So we’re just trying to help take that factor out for people.”

The club will then hold an introductory night to its facilities, such as the trail system, change rooms, saunas, lockers, wax room and rental area, on Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.

The Whitehorse club will keep the ball rolling with a free group lesson for beginner skiers on Nov. 30 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event will begin at the wax room, conveniently located next to the rental shop for those who don’t have skis.

“We’re also thinking there are new Canadians who have come here from all over the place and they might not even know what cross-country skiing is,” said Gladish. “Maybe they’re saying, ‘We should go up there and see what it’s all about.’”

Finally the three-week affair will wrap up with the Coast Mountain Sports Free Ski Day beginning at 10 a.m. on Dec. 7. Day passes and ski rentals, as the name implies, are free. Coast Mountain will also be on hand for some equipment demos.

The club is already home to a number of programs for skiers of all ages. There’s the Subway Ski S’cool for skiers in kindergarten to Grade 2, the Lynx Squad for ages 8-12, a Masters Ski Training program for skiers over 30, and more.

“We have a lot parents who have signed their kids up for Jackrabbits (and Bunnies Ski Program for ages 4-9) this year, who are new to Whitehorse and they’re saying to us, ‘We’d like to try it too,’” said Warren. “We have a lot of programming for children starting, but we’re trying to introduce everybody to the wax room.”

The Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club’s trail system features over 85 kilometres of groomed trails – five kilometres with lights for night skiing – plus an additional 20 kilometres of ungroomed trails for skiing and snowshoeing.

It was announced two weeks ago that the club will host the Haywood Ski Nationals, Canada’s cross-country ski championships, in March 2016. The club has already hosted the Canada Winter Games in 2007, the Western Canadian Cross Country Ski Championships in 2006, a World Cup and the North American championships in 1981, and another national championship in 1977. It also hosted cross-country ski events for the Arctic Winter Games six times, most recently in 2012.

Contact Tom Patrick at