After a year off due to COVID, the annual Kootenay Cup was held once again at the Kimberley Nordic Club on January 22 and 23.
“It was so great to reconnect with club members and the wider cross country community from neighbouring clubs after missing a full season,” said chief of stadium Chris Bullock.
“Loved seeing the excitement of the young kids, the skill of the local skiers and the inspiration of past Olympians still putting themselves to the test. Another great opportunity to showcase the world class facility that Kimberley has to offer.”
The event is one of the biggest of its kinds in the region each year and is a massive undertaking. There were 236 racers registered this year, with 174 coming to Kimberley from clubs from all over B.C. including Vernon, Penticton, Golden, Fernie, Nelson, Rossland, the Slocan and Invermere, as well as from Canmore and Calgary.
“That’s 174 racers, plus coaches and parents, renting accommodation, eating in our restaurants, and discovering what a great place Kimberley is,” said chief of competition Jeannie MacDonald. “It’s a huge economic boost to the community.”
There were also about 100 volunteers involved, many of whom were from the KNC, but also lots of people who aren’t skiers at all, according to MacDonald, who added their chief of computer operations came from Calgary and their chief of volunteers from Victoria.
“This is always such a well run event,” said visiting jury member Helen Clugston. “Our club has always enjoyed our weekends in Kimberley and this weekend was no exception. We were happy with the COVID protocols and felt very safe at the venue.”
Frank Ackermann, chief of start/finish, explained that the club hosted two individual start distance races: a skate technique race on Saturday and a classic technique race on Sunday.
“Both races were held on our FIS-certified race trails, creating a fun and challenging course for all abilities,” Ackermann said. “These individual start races allowed for physical distancing and smaller crowds in all areas of the KNC trails and stadium area.”
There were skiers from ages five to 70 participating in the action, and representing all the programs KNC has to offer: Bunnies (ages 4-5, Jackrabbits (6-9), Track Attack (9-12), Junior racers (12 and up), Adults Ski Program plus other skiers from the club.
For a majority of the participants, this was their first opportunity to race in two years due to the pandemic, and organizers actually had to consider cancelling a week before this year’s event, due to concerns about the prevalence of the Omicron variant.
Organizers change formats and instituted strict COVID-safety measures. Everyone who came to the race venue had their vaccination passport checked and wore proof of it all weekend. They also asked anyone who was near the race venue to wear a mask.
“The goal is always to host a race that’s fun, safe, and fair,” MacDonald said. “Judging by the reactions we got from all the racers and coaches, I think we succeeded. “I was pleasantly surprised by how well everyone adhered to the COVID protocols.”
In addition to being such a welcomed relief to be racing again, participants also got to enjoy pristine skiing and racing conditions thanks to the weather and the staff of the KNC who work so hard to keep their trails in world-class shape. MacDonald described it as a “picture-postcard weekend.”
“It was so satisfying to see the grins on people’s faces, as they were able to see other skiers from all over southern BC and Alberta,” she said. “Cross-country skiing is a very closely-knit community, and we’d been missing one another.”
For full race results visit: https://zone4.ca/race/2022-01-22/2893e88c/results/