Dance for the snow a new statue this weekend

The Spirit of Red will be having a snow dance this weekend at the Miners' Hall to help raise money for the new Olaus Jeldness statue.

The Spirit of Red will be having a snow dance this weekend and invites everyone to come out. The non-profit group is putting on the dance Saturday to help raise money for the Olaus Jeldness statue planned for downtown.

The snow dance is something Norwegians would have done in the 1860s to make sure there was good snow for the winter.

Jeldness was a world champion skier from Norway who came to Rossland at the end of the 1800s and is credited with starting skiing in the area, as well as the inception of the Winter Carnival.

Spirit of Red president Roly Worsford explained that since Jeldness was such a historic figure, something needed to be done to commemorate him as a part of Rossland history.

Worsford decided a bronze statue downtown would probably do.

He said that Jeldness is quite a figure, not just for Rossland, but for the province and the country.

“This was the original history of skiing in Canada,” he said.

A lot of the research was done by Rod Shearer, who will be coming to speak at the Rouge Gallery on Nov. 22. Shearer grew up in Rossland and is a professor at UBC. Prior to that research, a lot of the stories were only hearsay.

“Now we knew that this was fact, the Rossland ski club, 1896, this guy was the world ski champion,” he said. “So I thought this guy’s a hero, we should put him on the main street.”

The end result will be a bronze statue measuring more than 2.5 metres tall, to  be placed on the corner of Washington and Columbia, in front of the Rouge Gallery.

Spirit of Red has been working with the city of Rossland and said they are on board. They started fundraising about a year and a half ago.

Worsford said the project is big news in Norway. Ray Godard, who is involved, got a hold of an acquaintance in tourism in Norway and the Norwegian embassy in Canada.

“They donated $1,500 already,” he said. “It looks like the Norwegian ambassador will be here for the unveiling of the statue.”

The cultural minister will also likely be here. Oslo has the biggest ski museum in the world. He is also hoping to get Nancy Greene Raine to come down for the future unveiling as well.

He said the city, the locals and some businesses have been generous, notably the Nelson and District Credit Union which has come up with a $5,000 donation. That has given them the go-ahead to get in touch with the Chinese artists doing the statue.

Worsford said that while the prices are more in the range of the group, there are other reasons they are going with Chinese artists. Mostly, it’s because in Rossland in those days the Chinese weren’t treated very well and so this is a chance to show some thanks, he said.

“The dance this weekend is a chance for Rossland to show its support for the project and to raise the last of the money to fund the statue,” he said. “It’s also a chance to relive the spirit of Olaus.”

There will be a draw for a Red Mountain Resort season’s pass donated by the resort.

“We wanted to thank Red Mountain Resort for their contributions,” he said.