Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

LIGHTING THE WAY - Scott Fraser participates in the Poker Rally Celebration of Lights, which was held on Wednesday at the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club.

Cross Country Ski Club lights up for poker run

The lights were on at the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club and the two loops used by skiers in Wednesday's poker run looked great.

By Jon Molson on January 22, 2009

The lights were on at the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club and the two loops used by skiers in Wednesday's poker run looked great.

The Poker Rally and Celebration of Lights showcased a $120,000 renovation project, which was completed in December.

"It went fine, it would have been nice to have 40 or 50 people, but we had 20 and it worked well," said Mike Gladish, the manager of the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club.

"We postponed it like three times I think, so I think it went pretty well considering. We actually got four more lights working this last week, so it was kind of good timing."

The final phase of the lights project began in June and took six months to complete.

Gladish said the club ended up putting up a fewer number of lights than it previous had, however, the ones that have been installed are brighter and more efficient.

Lights were also put on different trails that included some of the easier runs at the club.

Contributions to the lights project came from the Community Development Fund, Lotteries Yukon and FSC architects.

The poker run had originally been scheduled for December, however it had to be postponed on two occasions because of the cold weather.

It was well worth the wait for participants on Wednesday, who had the option of skiing either a two-km course or five-km run, which combined the two-km loop with a three-km trail.

The rules for the poker run were quite simple: individuals picked up five cards at five dealer stations that were set up in each of the two courses.

After completing either the two-km or five-km distance, individuals were paired up in teams of two. Skiers then had to make the best poker hand out of the 10 cards they had assembled.

The grand prize was a pair of red and grey fleece shirts from last year's cross country loppet.

The long sleeve shirts were a special edition last year because of 25th anniversary and had "Northwestel Yukon Loppet 25th Anniversary 2008" written on them.

In addition to fleece shirts, a draw was held that included prizes donated by FSC, including shirts, hats, water bottles and a backpack.

Coffee cards and day passes for the ski base were also given away for the draw.

Gladish said the reason the poker run was held on Wednesday as opposed to the weekend was so the ski club could continue its tradition of holding weekly events for its members.

In the past, these weekly events have included the Subway five-km race, which held its final race in 2008 after five years.

"For years we have had Wednesday night events, so the idea was to have it on a Wednesday as an alternate to racing," he said. "A lot of people in the club don't want to go in a race, so we wanted to have some kind of an event that non-racers might be interested in."

Skier Scott Fraser said he came out to the poker run for the socialization as well as to check out the new lights.

"I thought maybe there would be some tricky rules or something, but it's very straightforward," he said "It would have been easier to look at all of the cards and take some higher ones, but cross country skiers are very honest and straight forward and probably that's why they don't make good poker players."

Picking up a king, jack, a 10 and a two, Fraser didn't have a whole lot of luck, however after combining with another skier was able to make a king-high flush, which at one point was the hand to beat.

In the end, the winning hand was a full house, made up of two aces and three sevens. The hand was formed by the family team of Laura and Tim Pyke.

Laura, who also had daughter Scmaya with her while completing the two-km distance, said she enjoyed herself at the poker rally.

"It was my first time under them and it was great and the trails were all really nice," she said. "They were all freshly groomed and everything, so it was perfect."

In addition to winning a fleece shirt, Laura also took home a back pack, which was the draw's top prize and Scmaya won a water bottle.

Laura, who normally skis during the day, said she was impressed with the lights.

"It was really nice," she said. "I always do it during the day, but I will definitely keep it in mind if I have time at night now. We would definitely come in the evenings again."

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