Kids compete at last season’s elementary school races at Hallis Lake. Submitted photo

Snow making equipment means longer season for Quesnel x-country skiers

Cariboo Ski Touring Club is hoping temp drops to test out new gear at Hallis Lake

While many of us are clinging to the delights of sweater weather and the changing of leaves, members of the Cariboo Ski Touring Club are rubbing their hands in anticipation of freezing weather in the near future.

“It looks like we’ve seen some snow [nearby],” says publicity director Ron Watteyne, “so it may not be too far away. With this cold front coming down, hopefully we’ll have early snow this year.”

They might be hoping for a good dump well before the new year, but the club will be satisfied with the thermometer reading zero or below.

“This year, we have snow making,” Watteyne says. “We have invested in an extensive snow making operation, so we’re just waiting for some cold temperatures to get out and test it.”

The club has the equipment hooked up in a building adjacent to the Hallis Lake Lodge.

“We had to put in a new well and new pumps, and now it’s all ready to go.”

Watteyne says the new capability is pretty exciting.

“The stadium area [right in front of the lodge] is the worst for losing snow, so when the snow starts to melt, we end up with big puddles of water,” he says.

“And two years ago, the ski program was skiing on ice, it was so bad.”

With the new snow making capabilities, the club will be able to keep the stadium filled with fluffy powder the whole season, which will be perfect for teaching beginners the basics.

Chris Hyde, who is the club’s vice-president and the skills development program co-ordinator, says now is the time to enroll in classes.

“We’ve got programs for kids aged three to 18,” he says.

“There is Bunnies, Jack Rabbits — level one through four — and Track Attack.”

Last year, they tried out a new program called Yeti Trackers to appeal to older kids who want to ski but do not necessarily care for the competitive aspect of the pasttime.

“It’s kind of a fun one,” says Hyde. “Last year, the kids went out to ski and built a fire and cooked hot dogs. The focus is on fun. We want kids to get outside, go skiing, learn some skills and enjoy themselves.”

The program is still under development, but Hyde says they are thinking of adding some tracking aspects to it and some compass work, in order to make it a good stepping stone to back country exploration.

Last year’s ski team also fared quite well, so Hyde says the club is hoping to continue growing that aspect as well.

“We had some good enrollment, and there was a core group that came out to extra training as well,” he says.

“A few of them traveled around to some competitions, and they did fairly well in the local ones.”

Rentals are available for anyone looking to try the sport out, and memberships are inexpensive for those who decide the sport is a great way to get some outdoor exercise during the winter months.

“It’s ridiculously cheap,” says Watteyne, “We’re probably the cheapest in B.C. for the facility that we have.

“What we’re trying to do is keep the rates low and try to have a higher membership and make it affordable for everybody to ski on our trails.”

READ MORE: Eighty athletes compete at Biathlon BC Cup race in Quesnel

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