With their skis strapped on, poles at their side and a numbered bib over their coats — racers came ready for the snow.
Over 150 people gathered at the Onion Lake ski trails for the annual Snow Valley Open to cheer and compete on Jan. 26.
“(This is) a classic race for cross-country skiing, there’s just waves of kids headed out through different courses,” says Travis Cartis, the chief of race for the event.
As part of the JackRabbit program with the Snow Valley Nordic Ski Club, the race is intended to get their young participants of all abilities and levels comfortable on the cross country tracks.
With about 90 competitors, some as young as four, Carter says it’s a great sport to get children out and enjoying the outdoors.
“We kind of encourage the kids to get out there and do what they can,” Carter says. “To enjoy that feeling of going fast.”
He adds each race finisher is awarded a chocolate bar at the end as the point isn’t about winning.
“We don’t single out first, second or third so much. It’s more to have fun and do the best for yourself.”
Six-year-old Olivia Emery, a second-year JackRabbit racer, says that the trails are “so smooth” and that it’s nice to “just slip right through the snow.”
With great enthusiasm for the sport, she has aspirations to become a “skiing master” by learning how to properly go downhill.
When asked how she manages to keep her pace on the snowy tracks, Olivia says that it’s all about the energy.
“The secret is the energy, the energy flows in me. I feel the energy and go a bit faster and then soon, I’ll be way ahead of the pack and it’s just the forest,” she says.
“To just be free, out in the world — it’s just pretty nice.”
The Snow Valley Nordic Ski Club will hold its annual Moose Marathon race at Onion Lake on Feb. 23.