Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by John Tonin

STILL GOING - The snow is melting quickly but the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club trails remain open.

"Amazing" ski season continues through April

In January, the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club reported that they had a record-breaking year.

By John Tonin on April 20, 2021

In January, the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club reported that they had a record-breaking year.

The club had 2,083 season pass holders, or a 40 per cent increase from their previous record of 1,400 members in 2020.

There was also a big growth in daily pass sales compared to previous years, almost 25 per cent more than the same time last year.

Now that it finally feels like spring, Benjamin Poudou, the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club manager, said the club continued with its successful season even into the warmer months.

"On March 1, the spring pass went on sale," said Poudou. "Before COVID-19, we sold about 100-150 passes and we've been steady with that compared to other years."

Poudou said not as many people bought spring passes because so many already purchased the season pass. Skiers who tend to purchase the spring passes, Poudou said, do so because they prefer not to ski in the cold temperatures throughout the winter.

"Cross country skiing can be weather-dependent for people to try," said Poudou. "This year, it hasn't been too cold and we've had super snow. It has been great for grooming the track."

The amazing skiing has continued since early November when Whitehorse got its first big snowfall. Only now have the trails begun to melt due to the recent warm weather.

"Spring skiing brings water into the snowpack," said Poudou. "That's just started a few days ago. We've been skiing in the spring but in winter conditions.

"We aren't done yet; the trails are starting to change and the trails are icy. There is a window, the window is between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. maximum where people can ski before it gets too icy or wet."

This season, through the winter months, Poudou said the skiing has been great for beginners.

"We've been skiing since Nov. 4 and skiing on amazing snow," said Poudou. "It's been a long season and really beginner-friendly. It has been good for people discovering or rediscovering the activity."

With the spring melt, the conditions which were great for beginners are changing.

"The trails are faster," said Poudou. "It is becoming tricky for beginners. It is good for intermediate skiers and difficult for classic skiing."

Because skiing in the morning is still "great," albeit not recommended for beginners, the club has changed their operating hours. On weekdays, they will be open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.

Despite the snow beginning to melt, Poudou said, they will keep the trails open as long as they can.

"The trails are changing fast, but if we can ski from the chalet we will stay open," said Poudou. "When there are puddles or dirt, the trail will close."

Poudou said they won't close all at once; instead, when a trail becomes unusable, they will shut it down.

"Dog Trail is at the bottom of the system and water gets down there so we'd shut it down," said Poudou. "But, we will keep grooming others.

"We will do our best to keep grooming but when we can't have a blue, green, and black loop, then we will close. We've had 5 1/2 months of skiing; that's pretty good."

In December 2020, the club had two Arctic Cat Bearcat 7000 snowmobiles stolen from them.

The snowmobiles were important for grooming the trails; as well, they were used by ski patrol to help anyone who encounters an emergency.

A reward was offered for the snowmobiles, which had equipment specific to grooming. Poudou said they had no luck with finding them.

"We still don't know," said Poudou. "We need them, so we ordered a new one. It is on its way."

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