The Kimberley Nordic Club (KNC) is gearing up to host the Western Canadian Championships. Running from February 2 to 5, this is the first time the club has ever hosted this prestigious event, and the Bulletin caught up with general manager Daniel Childress to see how the preparation process is going thus far.
Childress said the KNC assembled an Organizing Committee consisting of 12 dedicated volunteers in October, 2022. Since then, the committee has been having organizing meetings every three to four weeks.
“Within the organizing committee, subcommittees were formed to meet specific requirements of a nationally sanctioned race,” Childress explained.
“Certain members were assigned to marketing, while others were assigned to sponsorships and parking lot preparations. We also have some dedicated volunteers that have been preparing the courses and ensuring that the race tracks meet all Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS) requirements.”
To host an event of this caliber, Childress said that the host club must have race courses that are homologated by the the FIS. There are only three FIS-sanctioned courses in Western Canada, with the Kimberley Nordic Centre being one of them.
The KNC has been applying to host this event for years, and Childress said the reason they were finally accepted is that they now have FIS homologated race courses, and that Kimberley is also perfectly situated to host Westerns, as they are centrally located within Western Canada.
“We are equal distance from the West Coast as we are to Saskatchewan,” Childress explained.
“We are also within City limits of Kimberley, which offers nearby and convenient accommodations for out of town visitors. We have been hosting an annual Kootenay Cup for several years now, which has allowed the club and the many local volunteers to prepare for a larger event such as the Westerns.
“While not required for the Kootenay Cup, we have been hosting technical delegates to oversee our race events and ensure that we are following the same procedures as an FIS-sanctioned race. They have served as effective dress rehearsals for the big event that we will soon be hosting.”
Childress said the club anticipates to have around 700 people taking part in the event; 400 skiers and another 300 coaches and support members.
Of these around 100 are from Kimberley, so the event could bring 600 people from out of town to Kimberley, plus more if they bring friends and family as spectators.
“This event will showcase our club and our city to the greater Nordic community in Westerns Canada,” Childress said. “Most athletes in the racing community have never skied at Kimberley before because we have never hosted an event of this scale. The Westerns will bring a lot of new faces to Kimberley, and hopefully have them come back year after year once they see our beautiful trails and our excellent grooming.”
In order to run an event of this magnitude, the club needs around 100 volunteers each day from Friday to Sunday, plus 30 on Thursday, the official training day ahead of the race itself, for a grand total of 330 volunteers in four days.
“It has been a challenge finding enough volunteers to run the event,” Childress said. “We are grateful for the volunteers who have committed to the event, but we are still in search of more help.”
To sign up as a volunteer, visit skiwesterns2023.ca
One of the other challenges organizers has faced is parking and transportation logistics. The size of the Nordic Centre’s parking lot is limited and due to its location, overflow parking is not an option, which has posed a major hurdle to organizers as there are so many people coming for the race.
Kimberley Alpine Resort has stepped up and offered a portion of their parking lot to be used as overflow for racers and spectators.
Additionally, BC Transit is sponsoring the event and operating a shuttle throughout the event to take participants to and from this overflow lot.
Childress said they are currently making final arrangements for warming trailers, generators and sponsorship advertising. The City will be putting up an event banner above the downtown crosswalk on January 30.
The KNC produced a video to promote the event, which can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/785017273