No doubt, the turkey will be delicious but it will also feel like a heavy stone in your stomach after. All presents will be unpacked, the tree will start losing its needles and your kids will get bored, so what to do? Get out and play in the snow!
Just like at all Nordic venues in the region, it will be “all hands on deck” at Whistler Olympic Park — weather permitting, that is — when the venue offers extended holiday programs for beginners and experienced skiers. Opening hours during the holidays (Dec. 21 to Jan. 5) will be daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and there will be daily introductory holiday lessons for skiing and biathlon (Discover Skate Skiing daily 11:00 a.m./1.5 hrs; Discover Classic Skiing daily 1:30 p.m./1.5 hours; Discover Biathlon daily 2 p.m./2 hours; Experience Biathlon daily 12:30 p.m./30 minutes), also private lessons are offered for all ability levels. Lessons can be booked online under www.whistlerolympicpark.com or call (604) 964-0060.
Also, Cypress Mountain offers special Nordic programs over the holidays — for example, a Holiday Snowshoe Tour or the mouth-watering Cheese and Chocolate Fondue Tour. Check www.cypressmountain.com for offers and conditions. Close to Whistler Village, Lost Lake also invites Christmas skiers and snowshoers to 32 kilometres of Nordic trails (program and conditions under www.crosscountryconnection.ca).
• Get in shape for the big race: Many of you may be considering participating in recreational cross-country ski races or a “loppet.” For the top few skiers, these events are competitive in nature; however, the vast majority of participants view them as a fun opportunity to ski with friends, enjoy nature and challenge themselves. Most loppets have a long and a short course, so if you are a first-timer you can get your feet wet on a shorter course. Throughout the province there are many such events providing a great opportunity to travel and get to know different ski trail systems (see www.crosscountrybc.ca for a full listing of events).
The biggest Nordic mass race in the Sea to Sky Corridor is Sigge’s P’ayakentsut. Race categories for the 2014 edition on Feb. 22 are offered for all skill levels from recreational to professional skier: Open 50 km, Open 30 km, Open 15 km, Sit Ski 10 km and Youth 15 km. Early bird registration closes on Dec. 31; early bird registration fees range from $25 to $50 depending on the race category (www.payak.ca). Another local loppet is the Whistler Olympic Park Woppet that traditionally closes the season in the Callaghan Valley.
Preparing for a loppet can be as easy as going skiing on a regular basis. For those who would like to challenge themselves, there are numerous clubs and fitness facilities that offer masters or loppet training programs to get the most out of the day. To enjoy a loppet, it is a good idea to ski the course or parts of the course in the weeks and months leading up to the event. The Payak course at Whistler Olympic Park is signed for the whole season, making it easy to ski different sections over a number of weekends.
Silke Jeltsch is an administrator at Whistler Olympic Park. She can be reached at email@example.com