• Nordic skiing for kids — Cross-country skiing is a fun snow activity that boosts balance, agility, coordination and self-confidence. But what is the best way for your child to get started? The local ski clubs can help here because all offer programs customized for different age and skill groups. These programs follow the Canadian “Sport for Life” model comprising three introductory levels:
• The “Bunnyrabbit” program, designed for kids five years of age and younger, introduces kids to cross-country skiing, focussing on developing movement skills, balance, agility, coordination and social skills through fun and play.
• “Jackrabbits,” geared toward kids between six and nine, learn basic cross-country skills (both classic and skating) and to enhance movement skills, build overall motor skills and self-confidence through play, ski activities and low-key competitions.
• “Track Attack” is geared toward kids nine or 10 years and older. The objective is for the participants to become technically competent cross-country skiers and to use those skills to explore a wide range of cross-country ski activities, keeping fun as the No. 1 priority.
Biathlon programs are also available for kids nine and older. No previous biathlon experience is required for the introductory class, the “Biathlon Bears.” Kids learn the basics of biathlon, range and rifle safety, and gain the skiing and shooting skills to participate in biathlon races.
Building on these introductory programs, several development programs are available for those 13 and older who want to enter competitive cross country or biathlon races, schooling the fitness and mental skills required for competition.
All programs are held in the Sea to Sky Corridor — mostly at Whistler Olympic Park — both midweek and on weekends. The clubs are happy to give individual advice as to what would be the perfect start for your kids:
Callaghan Winter Sports Club (www.callaghanwintersportsclub.ca), Squamish Nordic Ski Club (www.squamishnordic.ca), Whistler Nordics (www.whistlernordics.com), Spud Valley Nordics (www.spudvalleynordics.com, Pemberton), Hollyburn Cross Country Ski Club (www.hollyburnxc.ca, North Vancouver) and the West Coast Nordic Club (www.westcoastnordics.com, Lower Mainland).
• Whistler Nordics Ski Swap — Those who want to purchase used cross-country gear or sell their used equipment before the season starts can do this in Whistler this weekend. The Whistler Nordics will host their Ski Swap at the Hilton Resort and Spa on Sunday (Oct. 27). The swap will be open from noon to 3 p.m. (drop-off of used gear to sell from 10 a.m. to noon). Fifteen per cent of all sales go to the Whistler Nordics to help fund programs and events. Also local retailers will attend with great deals and visitors have the opportunity to purchase Ski Callaghan season passes and can sign up for Whistler Nordics ski programs and membership.
• Ski Callaghan early-bird passes — Until Nov. 20, Ski Callaghan season passes can be bought at early-bird rates: Adults pay $275, youth $135 and, new this year, seniors can purchase a mid-week pass for $135.
Ski Callaghan even hits the road to bring those passes to you — a sales team will be at the Squamish Farmers Market on Saturday (Oct. 26) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Whistler Nordics Ski Swap (see above) and at Sigge’s ski store in Vancouver on Nov. 3 from 8 to 11 a.m. Passes are also available online at www.whistlerolympicpark.com.
Silke Jeltsch is an administrator at Whistler Olympic Park. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org