Ski club tracking towards record membership in Terrace, B.C.

Gliding off a phenomenal season last year, the Snow Valley Nordic Ski Club is anticipating another record season this winter.

A group of skiers eagerly gears up to hit the Onion Lake cross country trails a few days after they opened Dec. 22.

Gliding off a phenomenal season last year, the Snow Valley Nordic Ski Club is anticipating another record season this winter.

Last year the club broke its record for the number of ski rentals and day passes sold in a season, and club president Dan McElheron says he expects many of the new people who explored the trails last year will sign up for membership this year.

“A lot of people really just discovered us last year, and bought day passes,” he said. “We had record rentals and record day passes, so this is where we figured it would translate into record membership this year,” he said.

This year already, the club has sold more early-bird memberships than ever before. The trails officially opened Dec. 22, and the club had a total of 309 members by last Tuesday, Dec. 27, the day they brought out the big groomer.

Now with a solid and smooth snow pack on the trails and programs starting up, McElheron said he expects a swath of more members.

The season has just begun and only 51 more members will break the overall club record, which is 360 members in a season.

“We thought we might do it last year,” said McElheron, “but I think that there’s a better chance this year because we’re already at almost 310.”

Last winter, the club had 335 members and the season was cut  short by a rainy downpour which melted snow  in mid-March, closing the trails a month early. But even with the shorter season, the club still broke several records, enrolling 61 children, more than ever before, in the Bunnies and Jackrabbits children’s programs.

It also sold $11,700 worth in day passes and $8,172 in rentals last year, nearly double the amount from 2014 when it made $6,521 from day passes and $4,396 from rentals.

Last year it also collected saw more than $7,000 from 2015, when the club collected $7,653 from day passes and $5,013 from rentals.

“We had a phenomenal year financially last year, and we reinvested everything back into the club,” said McElheron. “If we prosper, then the facility just keeps getting better.”

The club bolstered rental equipment, investing $12,000 in new gear, and made an early payment toward the loan for the new Bearcat groomer.

“Now we should be able to  pay it off a year early,” said McElheron.

Cell phone service has also been boosted at the Onion Lake trails, thanks to a new Telus tower installed nearby, McElheron noted.

Membership coordinator Cathy Vandenberg is also optimistic about this season.

“We might make a new record this year,” she said. “It all depends on the snow, and on people bringing out their friends to experience the trails! … More and more people are experiencing cross country skiing at Onion Lake – they enjoy the exercise, the fresh air, and the people.”

This Sunday, Jan. 8, the cross country ski trails will be open free for anyone, with free hot chocolate, free lessons and guided tours and $2 rentals. The annual open house runs from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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