From left: Sisters Kendra and Heather McCaskill are happy to be back in Rossland for the holidays and enjoy a day of skiing with mom Angeline at the Black Jack Ski Club Thursday. The club will be the centre of activity this weekend as it hosts the Haywood NorAm-Teck Sprint Series

From left: Sisters Kendra and Heather McCaskill are happy to be back in Rossland for the holidays and enjoy a day of skiing with mom Angeline at the Black Jack Ski Club Thursday. The club will be the centre of activity this weekend as it hosts the Haywood NorAm-Teck Sprint Series

Top skiers descend on Black Jack

A fresh layer of snow is just what the Black Jack Ski Club in Rossland was hoping for.

A fresh layer of snow is just what the Black Jack Ski Club in Rossland was hoping for as it gets set to host the Haywood NorAm-Teck Sprint Series cross-country ski race this weekend.

“The snow is pretty good, considering,” said race secretary Jacqui Richards on Wednesday. “It’s nice and hard-packed but a little fresh snow between now and Saturday would be great.”

The snow-gods smiled on Richards and the race the last two days as almost 10 centimetres covered the Black Jack ski track.

As the second stop on the Haywood NorAm circuit , the event will see some of the best cross-country skiers in North America go for gold in sprint and free technique races.

“It’s the highest domestic level of competition other than the World Cup, so the best in Canada and U.S. are here,” said head coach Dave Wood.

Black Jack members and local favourites Geoffrey Richards and Rebecca Reid are home for the event but have moved on to train in Whistler and Canmore respectively. However, the club still boasts seven skiers on the B.C. Team, including Jill Reynolds, Emily de Freitas, Sierra Gibson, Shawn Degroot, Julien Locke, Peter Locke and David Palmer.

“We have the biggest representation (in B.C.) by far,” said Wood.  “One of the big goals for us for the season is the World Junior Championship team selections, and I think they are on track, they’ll be in the fight.”

The World Junior trials go in Whistler Jan. 12-15 at the Callaghan Valley cross-country ski club and Wood has developed his team’s training regimen around that.

“Our plan is for them to get stronger and stronger every week, not necessarily to come out of the blocks on fire at the end of November, but just slowly get better and better, so as long as that process continues, I think we’re pretty well placed.”

The Teck sprint heats start first thing Saturday morning at 9 a.m. with the mass start free technique ski going Sunday at 10 a.m.

With close to 200 competitors registered, the event expects to attract a total of about 500 people, said Deanne Steven from Tourism Rossland.

“It is amazing to be able to see such a high calibre of international racer here in Rossland.

“The sprint race which takes place on Saturday is especially exciting to watch as the racers go full out on a course that includes some pretty tight turns and hills,” said Steven.

The Black Jack racing organizers credit the amazing volunteers who all pull together to make the event possible but they can always use more, added Richards.

The Black Jack Cross Country Ski Club is located five minutes north of Rossland and enjoys approximately 40 kilometres of scenic trails groomed for both classic skiing and skate skiing.

For more information visit www.skiblackjack.ca.