For the second straight year, the Kimberley Nordic Centre (KNC) is bringing back their “No-one Left Behind” policy, to help keep Nordic skiing as affordable as possible while people continue to be financially impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The KNC is offering 10 free memberships for this winter season that they will give to individuals based on greatest need.
”I think the idea initiated just partly from the financial challenges posed last year with COVID, with people not working, and really and truly for the Nordic Club the goal is to foster Nordic skiing as a lifelong affordable activity,” said KNC manager Dan Clark.
“In looking at that idea we recognized that even though our memberships are a tenth of the price of a downhill pass, there’s still some expense there, so we’re trying to reduce those barriers.”
At their website www.kimberleynordic.org people can complete a confidential form, providing name and contact information and a brief write-up explaining “how the KNC can help you to be part of our Nordic community this winter.”
You just need to share a little about your current situation, why you want to be a member and what obstacles are in your way.
Applications will then be assessed at the KNC’s monthly board meetings, based on communicated needs, and applicants will be notified as to the status of their application on a monthly basis following the meetings.
Last year they did the full number of passes they initially released, and in fact decided to make even more available than originally anticipated.
They’ve had a few applicants so far this year and process them as they come, but it has been a bit quieter this year compared to the big rush they got in 2020.
”Generally speaking we’ve just been approving them as they come in,” Clark explained. “Trying to get people out skiing and support the community, because the Nordic Club has been really well supported by Kimberley and Cranbrook. Depending on the stats we’ve had as high as one in five Kimberley residents as being a member, so that’s a really high level of engagement from our community.
“A lot of people don’t realize until you go elsewhere, that we’re really blessed in Kimberley to have a ski hill and the nordic club really within city limits, you don’t have to drive an hour out of town to get there, and so that just makes it more accessible.”
Some of the applicants who utilized the program have returned this year, and Clark added that the club has been fortunate over the past two years to have the Special Olympics group from Kimberley and Cranbrook skiing at, and supported by the club with memberships for their coaches.
The KNC and skiing in general have a long and rich history in Kimberley. Clark said that officially KNC has been the steward of those lands since the ’80s, but in actuallity its their 55th anniversary this year of trails being developed in that area.
“The first ski trails were built in 1967 so the Nordic Club has been a steward of those lands for a very long time and it’s amazing the volunteer commitment over that 55 years to make nordic skiing something that’s accessible to everyone,” Clark said.
“And I think that’s why, for such a small town, Kimberley has one of the highest, per-capita levels of membership of anywhere in the country, it’s quite amazing. People are doing lots of other things, downhill and hockey and all those good things too.”
This past fall, Clark produced a film documenting the history of skiing in Kimberley, which is available to watch at kimberleynordic.org/about
“It was amazing actually to find out, going right back to the ‘30s, the history of skiing in Kimberley,” Clark said. “Because at that time, downhill, cross country, they were all sort of one, because everyone was on these wood skis, but there’s this tremendous history, like ski jumping on the hill above Save-On Foods. Working on that film really opened my eyes to this long history of skiing that we have here.”
Currently, the club has a lot going on for the 2021/22 season, as they continually work to continue the rich legacy of Nordic skiing in Kimberley.
For the month of January there is a virtual challenge where skiers are encouraged to get in as many kilometres as they can. Once you sign up for the challenge you can manually log each ski or you can connect with apps such as Strava or Garmin to automatically update your progress. Learn more on the Kimberley Nordic Facebook page.
On January 22 and 23 they have their annual Kootenay Cup, the largest Nordic race in the Kootenays. Volunteers are needed for this big event, so to sign up to help out, and to learn about registration, race loops and watch the film from 2020’s race, visit https://www.kimberleynordic.org/kootenay-cup.
Then on March 5 they will have their Nordic Fest, which wasn’t able to happen last year due to COVID, and this year will include a ski orienteering race and a whole bunch of other components celebrating all aspects of Nordic skiing.
The KNC also is helping the future of the sport by fostering the progress of many local young athletes, some of whom are on the B.C. Team, some who are going to the World Junior Trials — taking them to the world stage. They also just had trials over this past weekend for some of the club’s younger racers who are going to the BC Winter Games.