Teen boys make their mark packing ski trails

Two new groomers have joined the crew packing trail at the Onion Lake cross country ski trails between Terrace B.C. and Kitimat.

Gabe and Yohanis Vandenberg learned to pack trail this winter at the Snow Valley Nordic Ski Club.

It may be hard to imagine 15-year-old boys driving quads around the Onion Lake ski trails and leaving smiles in their wake. But according to Dean Bergstrom, that’s exactly the case.

Bergstrom is the head groomer for the Snow Valley Nordic Ski Club and has been training two teen boys, Yohanis and Gabe Vandenberg, to operate the quad groomers and smooth trail.

“They are young, and these are big machines that they’re running, they go quite fast, but you can’t go fast when you’re grooming” said Bergstrom.

At first, Bergstrom says he was waiting for an angry skier to report a quad zooming around — teen boys amping up their speed for a little fun.

“They are young, and these are big machines that they’re running, they go quite fast, but you can’t go fast when you’re grooming,” said Bergstrom, noting that grooming has to be slow and steady, otherwise trails get rough.

“They’ve been doing really good… I’ve been quite impressed… “It’s been fantastic… those two boys, they just work hard all the time. They’re always very keen, and they’ve picked up everything that I’ve tried to teach them,” he said, adding that it’s great for the rest of the volunteers — taking pressure off by sharing the load.

Yohanis and Gabe started learning with Bergstrom in December, after their Dad signed them up, and both boys said they enjoy helping out.

“It’s fun operating machines,” said Yohanis, adding that he also enjoys the relationships with fellow groomers. “You’re part of a team — the grooming team,” he commented.

Gabe said he enjoys doing a good job and hearing from people when he’s groomed trail well. “[I like] the comments that you get. You get bad comments, but you also get the really good comments that make you feel really good,” he said.

Both Gabe and Yohanis are also avid skiers themselves, doing both traditional skiing and skate skiing, which makes them that much better as groomers.

“They’ve got so much experience skiing, that they know what kind of track they want to be on to ski, so that’s the kind of track they want to make,” Bergstrom said.

And Yohanis and Gabe’s family, with parents Bill and Cathy Vandenberg, have all been key members in the club which is completely volunteer-run. “There’s a lot of good members in the club, everybody jumps in and helps,” he said.

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