Skiers pack trails at annual open house near Terrace B.C.

More than 200 people hit the cross country ski trails at Onion Lake at the annual open house on Sunday, despite chilling winds.

Dean Bergstrom

More than 200 people hit the cross country ski trails at Onion Lake at the annual open house on Sunday, despite chilling winds.

The Snow Valley Nordic Ski Club president Dan McElheron says he handed out 200 passes to people coming in, and the parking lot was packed right up to the highway.

That was despite -12 weather with a wind chill of -20.

“I wasn’t sure if people were going to come out (because of chill),” said McElheron.

“I thought maybe we weren’t going to be busy, but the opposite was true.”

Skiers packed the trails, enjoying free lessons and guided tours, as well as hot chocolate and goodies, topped off with upbeat music pumping through the sound system.

“Weather was good, the snow conditions were spectacular…. trails were in absolutely perfect condition,” said McElheron, adding that groomer Anthony Vandermeulen was out at 4 a.m. to smooth trails to perfection.

The only downside was that the club was a bit short on volunteers, so some skiers lined up for a while before they could get rental gear and head out.

Last year’s open house had a similar striking turnout, with 250 people out on what was a beautiful sunny day.

Skiers launched into the regular season programs Jan. 7, and both the jackrabbits and bunnies children’s programs are at capacity with 64 skiers.

“We are sold out on the kids programs, we don’t have any more instructors,” said McElheron, adding that they set a new record, with three more than the 61 record last year.

That’s a strong jump from only four years ago, when the program had 33 children.

Regular membership is also climbing, at 350 members at last count.

The club is aiming to break its record of 360 members for a season.

Coming up, skiers will race in their first competition of the season on Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Snow Valley Open.

Then next weekend, women eager to shape up their cross country skiing skills are welcome to hit the trails at the annual, ever-popular Women’s Fest Jan. 29.

Check out the club’s website for more details.

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