Black Jack completes XC ski trail upgrades

Black Jack Cross Country Ski Club preps for NorAms.

The Black Jack Cross Country Ski Club is ready to ski into winter with a much improved trail system that will bring earlier and better skiing to the venerable Rossland track.

Thanks to sponsors, multiple organizations, and individuals the club successfully completed significant upgrades to its trails this year, and has regained access to a long-lost and favourite track.

“Skiers may remember the many puddles, ruts, and muddy sections last November and December that resulted in trail closures, a delayed season start, and the cancellation of the December Kootenay Cup,” says Black Jack Club president Alex Loeb in a release Tuesday.

As a result, substantial work has been done on areas of the trail such as Gibbard’s Trail to Torresan’s Cabin, and the improvements will be especially noticeable at the start of the season.

In addition, after a multi-year hiatus due to a loss of access, the club has finally been able to reconnect and reopen Ophir Trail.

“Like old times, the climb is still, well, breathtaking, but so are the spectacular views of the Rossland Range,” adds Alex.

The improved trails will be showcased at the upcoming Haywood NorAm in December, when hundreds of the top cross-country skiers from across North America will be descending upon the region for the week.  The NorAm event is also serving as the Junior and U23 World Championship Trials and a number of young, up-and-coming Black Jack skiers will have home turf advantage for coveted national team spots for the 2014 World Jr/U23 Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy.

Many of the recent trail upgrades were mandatory in order to comply with FIS (Fédération Internationale de Ski) specifications, allowing the club to continue hosting international events such as NorAms.

“Black Jack has really put itself on the map for consistently hosting great events” says Dave Dyer, Events Director for Cross Country Canada.  “Enthusiastic volunteers, great snow, great trails, top notch grooming, a strong race committee, and a very welcoming town – the perfect mix.  We’re excited to see the trail improvements they’ve made and test them this December at the Haywood NorAm.”

Now in its 30th year, the Black Jack Ski Club has grown from humble beginnings into one of Canada’s premier cross-country ski facilities, thanks to countless volunteers and supporters.

The club counted close to 700 members last year, and offers 40 kilometres of professionally groomed trails for both classic and skate skiing, over two kilometres of lit trails, three cozy cabins, a Biathlon range, a two kilometre doggy loop, and programs for all ages.

“None of the improvements would have been possible without the hard work of our volunteers and the generous support of our sponsors, including the Columbia Basin Trust, RDKB Area B, Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust, and the CBT Community Initiative Program; as well as local NorAm Major Sponsors Teck Trail Operations, Kootenay Savings Community Foundation, and Red Mountain Resort; and local NorAm Sponsors Nelson and  District Credit Union, Gerick Cycle and Sports, and Big Red Cats,” said Black Jack spokesperson Wannes Lupens.

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