Local sport enthusiasts are gearing up for Canada’s longest running winter carnival that dares participants to do extreme activities – from a team of four bobsledders rocketing down steep Spokane Street or kings of the mountain tackling Red Mountain in an alpine triathlon.
But Rossland Winter Carnival brings more than nail-biting activities. In its 115th year running, the family-fun event captures the Golden City’s history all while celebrating community spirit.
“Carnival is essentially anything to do with snow and sport and the joy of it is that there is so much history,” said Lisa Wegner, head of public relations and marketing for carnival.
The now four-day event kicks off early tonight at 7 p.m. with a Winter Carnival Variety Show at Rossland Secondary School before dipping into a jam-packed weekend.
Residents are encouraged to come out and learn to luge at Red Friday from 1-3 p.m. or Saturday from noon until 3 p.m. in preparation for perhaps competing in the 20th Olaus Invitational B.C. Cup Luge Race Sunday at 9 a.m.
There seems to be a talented pool of local women giving men a run for top-mountain title so much so that King of the Mountain, held Friday at 1 p.m., may have to be renamed when a queen takes the triathlon honour.
Participants travel three ways – pointing their skis, telemarking and snowboarding down the double-black face of Red.
The Game, an open jam where talented boarders and skiers hit snow bowls and rails on a course built on Queen Street, starts up at 7 p.m. Friday night. Spectators can catch the action from the cozy quarters of the Ice Palace Beer Gardens on Columbia Ave.
History will come alive at 6:30 p.m. Friday during the carnival parade when 30 descendants of Olaus Jeldness, who pioneered the event, march through downtown representing the Rossland Historical Society.
Those interested in joining should meet at 6 p.m. at the corner of Columbia and Butte with a dollar, which could buy them a chance to win a Red Mountain Resort season’s pass.
A post-parade extravaganza will follow, along with fire dancers and fireworks, weather permitting.
In conjunction with the carnival, Blizzard Festival (blizzardfest.webs.com) will bring a wide variety of musical talent to all major establishments, including the Flying Steam Shovel and the Drift.
Saturday won’t disappoint either; with the Firefighters Pancake Breakfast from 7:30-10 a.m. ensuring carnival goers get a good start to the day.
A hearty meal could be just what the doctor ordered for those daring to partake in the Sonny Samuelson Bobsled race at 9:30 a.m.
“These things can go really fast, they just go burning down,” said Wegner. “I recommend spectators don’t stand right on the edge of the street, get up high, because if someone does lose control, you’re not going to have a chance to jump out of the way.”
Anything from a log or pink canoe can be seen sailing down Spokane Street at speeds exceeding 80 km/h.
With so much for the big kids at heart, there is still plenty for children to get into, some which requires a signed waiver.
Family Fun Night, which includes free night skiing, skating, tobogganing and a kids’ movie will be held from 6-9 p.m. at Red.
Sunday will offer even more for families with a Kids Carnival, which includes snowmobile rides, and all-you-can-eat maple taffy on snow at the Lions campground.
The spirit will be high in the Golden City just as it was 115 years ago when Olaus Jeldness ruled the mountain.
The man who would be 154 years old today launched into his passion for downhill skiing at 15 years old when he broke a world record ski jumping distance of 92 feet in Stangvik, Norway. This led to the first recorded Canadian downhill ski championship that took place in Rossland in 1897.
“He just arbitrarily skied down on his 10-foot skis with his crazy leather bindings down the back of Red all the way down Washington to Columbia in eight minutes,” said Wegner.
For more information on the weekend festivities and a full schedule of events visit, www.rosslandwintercarnival.com