Strong start to season for PA Nordic Ski Club

Daily Herald File Photo Two young cross country skiers set out from the starting line of the Prince Albert Nordic Ski Club’s classic loppet event in January.

While most of Prince Albert was digging out from a massive snowstorm on Nov. 7 and 8, those involved with the Prince Albert Nordic Ski Club were jumping for joy.

Thanks to the huge amount of snow that hit the city, the club was able to start setting their cross country ski trails at Little Red River Park.

“This might be the best start to the season that we’ve ever had,” board member Bill Jeffrey said on Monday. “The way our trails are right now, it feels like the middle of February out there, except with much nicer temperatures.

“If you go back to last year, it took us until about the middle of December before we got our trails fully going. However, thanks to the big snowfall that we had, we got started two weeks ago and we haven’t looked back since.”

With the early start to the season and people looking for a safe outdoor activity to take part in during the COVID-19 pandemic, activity at the Little Red River Park trails has been steady during the last couple of weeks.

“I went out on Monday and you had to wait for somebody to pull out of the parking lot in order to get a spot,” Jeffrey said. “From what I’ve been told, you can’t get any new skis or snowshoes in Prince Albert right now.

“We knew that it was going to a busy year, especially with cross country skiing being a perfect sport to take part in because it’s you can practice social distancing and you don’t run into many people out on the trails. I think we are seeing more people out right now though because of how nice the weather has been lately.”

Like everyone else in Saskatchewan, the Prince Albert Nordic Ski Club is making sure that proper protocols are being followed to ensure that the sport can continue to take place.

“I think the biggest difference that someone would notice is just everyone trying to social distance in the parking lot,” Jeffrey said. “Everyone’s keeping their six feet apart while visiting with one another.

“We also haven’t finalized our plans for the loppet (which is held in January) as we’re waiting to see what the regulations are going to be like in the next few weeks. We might have more of a local event so that we can keep the social distancing with smaller groups, but it’s hard to say at this point.”

While the look of the cross country skiing season has yet to be determined, Jeffrey expects the club to continue to increase their numbers.

“Our memberships have really grown in the last three years,” Jeffrey explained. “We’ve gone from 180 members to 450 and I think we should be able to hit the 500 mark this year.

“We’re the fastest growing club in the province and we have some of the best trails in all of Saskatchewan. Things are looking really good for us.”