By Ida Koric, Rossland News
The new lift on Grey Mountain isn’t the only ski expansion to get excited about: Blackjack Ski Club has re-opened some classic terrain, and enhanced the existing trail system.
Access to the Ophir trail system was compromised by the construction of the reservoir, but after a summer of hard work, skiers will again be able to enjoy the lung-busting climb to views of the Rossland Range.
Last year’s warm December resulted in rutty, muddy sections along low-lying trail segments, which caused a delay in the start of the season. A fundraising campaign was started, generous donations from local businesses Teck Trail Operations, Kootenay Savings, Red Mountain Resort, Nelson and District Credit Union, Gerrick Cycle and Sports and Big Red Cats soon poured in.
The club used this opportunity to seek fund-matching grants from Columbia Basin Trust and the Southern Interior Development Initiative. Before they knew it, Blackjack had enough of a surplus after the trail improvements to continue the dreamed-of expansion to the far side of the reservoir.
“Trail improvements mean better snow, which means an earlier cross-country ski season,” Wannes Luppens, executive member responsible for fundraising and memberships, explained. “An earlier season is great for our membership, and consistent, reliable snow also opens up opportunities for hosting events.”
Only a small handful of cross-country venues in Western Canada have the capacity to host race events in December, and these recent improvements will help secure Rossland’s status as one of those locales.
The Haywood NorAm is coming to Blackjack this year; an event that features hundreds of racers from all over Canada, as well as dozens from the U.S.
“It’s a very big deal,” Luppens said. “So many athletes come to these events because they are desperate to get some early season points. We will see athletes come trickling into Rossland several days before the event.”
If Blackjack consistently receives a reliable early snowpack, its national appeal will continue to grow, which is a great benefit to local businesses and area tourism.
Red Resort and Blackjack are teaming up this year to produce a multi-sport brochure for the area. Rossland will be marketed as an all-around winter fun destination, encouraging families to plan week-long holidays where they can take advantage of world-class downhill, cross-country and snowshoeing, all within a snowball’s throw of their accommodations.
A total of 677 Blackjack members signed up last year, which meant that one in six Rosslanders were a committed crosscountry skier. The club hopes to see even more new members excited about the expanded trail network.
For a mere $160 (adults), locals can have season-long access to the best low-impact full-body work out there is. Season’s passes are on sale now, with three early-bird prize draws coming up on Nov. 3 and Nov. 15, as well as Dec. 1. Some of the amazing prizes include Big Deal 3-Packs from Red, Mountain Nugget chocolates, ski lessons, gift certificates from Gerricks (up to $350) and the Alpine Grind, cat skiing with Big Red Cats and a Blackjack season’s pass.
Forms can be found on-line at www.skiblackjack.ca.
For those who would love to get started but don’t have the gear, the Snow Shoe and Ski Swap is coming to the Prestige Nov. 2. Equipment drop-off is from 8:30-10:30 a.m., with sales beginning at 11 a.m. For more information, contact Sue at 250-362-2116.