North Bay Nordic Ski Club sees membership rise in wake of COVID-19 pandemic

Before the pandemic hit, around 700 skiers were registered with the Nordic Ski Club and took to the trails. Now there’s over 900 people who will be out throughout the season. Jan.16/22 (Eric Taschner/CTV News Northern Ontario)

The cross-country ski season is in full swing in North Bay.

 

The city’s Nordic Ski Club has been open for a few weeks and membership has been on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Before the pandemic hit, around 700 skiers were registered to take to the trails. Now there’s over 900 people who will be out throughout the season.

 

“Last year we saw close to 1,000 people,” said club president Andrew Rees. “Where we do see a lot more interest is in day uses. People want to come out for the day and want to try it out.”

 

Last season, the club could not operate the trail for day use or rent out equipment due to health concerns.

 

“I’m excited. I haven’t been skiing since last year because of COVID. It was a long time,” explained Klarissa Srigaley.

 

Srigaley is one of 30 young racers that make up the North Bay Nordic Junior Racing Team that we’re practicing Sunday afternoon. The team is anticipating and hoping for competitions later this season.

 

“We practice on the things we’re not as good on and we can get better and better each time,” said skier Felix Dubytz.

 

It will all depend on the pandemic situation if the team can compete. Under normal circumstances, the team would represent the club in Ontario and Quebec competitions.

 

“We had a race in early December in the north of Temiskaming shores. It went well,” said skier Chris Butterworth. “I’d like to work on my technique I think.”

 

The club opened for the season a bit later than it hoped for due to the late arrival of winter. 

 

“We had a false start and a couple of melts but we’ve been skiing around mid-December and conditions have really improved in the last week or two,” said Rees.

 

Under current health and safety regulations, the club can still run most of its programs like its well-known ‘Jackrabbit Program’ for young skiers just starting out.

 

“It doesn’t matter what their skill level is, they get placed in different groups so they can instruction every week on Sundays,” explained Rees.

 

Rees says he’s optimistic the season will be one of the best in recent years for the club if the cold, winter weather lingers and they can avoid being shut down by the pandemic.