It’s a good time to be a cross country skier and an even better time to run a cross country ski club. The Bear Mountain Nordic Ski Association is the place to be this winter, as COVID-19 restrictions have limited recreation options in Dawson Creek, and the warm temperatures have made it hard to maintain outdoor ice surfaces.
Of course, the association could use a lot more snow as well as colder temperatures, but thanks to its location, there’s still more than enough snow for people to ski and enjoy, and they are coming out in droves.
“We’ve been extra busy this year. We’ve at least tripled our membership, and for day users who aren’t members, I’d say they have quadrupled,” said Bear Mountain Nordic Ski President Pat O’Reilly.
The nature of the sport has cross country skiing being the perfect winter sport to take up during a pandemic. It also means the club is able to hold most of its normal programs, outside of any loppets or races.
“Are kids lessons are still on every weekend. This sport is ideal for people, you can stay separated during (COVID-19) easily. Northern Health was here (Jan. 14) too, filming a recruitment video with drones, and taking pictures, letting people know what the area has to offer,” said O’Reilly.
In addition to grooming trails and facilitating skiing and snowshoeing, the club is always cutting firewood, selling it to help pay for a new grooming machine when the time comes.
“Our machine is 24 years old, we’re always trying to raise money to replace it. It runs for now as long as we stay on top of it with maintenance. It’s very maintenance heavy,” O’Reilly said. He estimates the club has raised more than $90,000 towards a new groomer so far, but has a long way to go to raise the necessary amount.