Column: Nordic skiing thrives in the Shuswap thanks to active clubs

Column: Nordic skiing thrives in the Shuswap thanks to active clubs

Shuswap Passon by Jim Cooperman

By Jim Cooperman

Contributor

Nordic skiing thrives in the Shuswap thanks to active clubs

In the hills to the north above Chase is Skmana Lake, which has a rich history, beginning with its likely use by the Secwepemc people for hunting, fishing and traditional food gathering.

According to local elders, the word Skmana is difficult to define as it could refer to the shape of a head or shoulder, or the base of a hill, and it has an underlining meaning as a sacred place. The Adams River Lumber Company diverted the creek in the early 1900s and dammed the lake to use as a holding pond for logs that were sluiced down a massive flume to the Adams River below, then boomed and towed down the lakes to the mill in Chase.

The very active Skmana Ski and Snowshoe Club was established in the early 1980s, and over the years raised funds for tracking equipment, along with holding fun family events and providing youth ski programs. There are 14 kilometres of tracked trails to enjoy, including a scenic loop around the lake.

With its 57 km of groomed trails, 114 km of ungroomed trails, and 17 km of snowshoe trails, the Larch Hills ski area is one of the largest in the province. Over the years, there has been almost continuous expansion of facilities and programs; thanks to it’s over 1170 members and a legion of volunteers. One of the reasons for its continued success is the attention given to providing services for youth who grow up to become the next generation of skiers.

Youngsters learn to ski beginning at the age of four through the Jackrabbit program. A team of volunteer coaches provides the instruction as the young skiers move from the initial Bunny level through to level 4 for ages eight to 12 years old. This year, more than 150 young skiers took part in the program. After Jackrabbits, the young skiers have the option of participating in the Youth Explorers group or joining the ski team.

Read more: Column: Skiing in the Shuswap and Salmon Arm’s history of downhill runs

Read more: Column: How Reino Keski-Salmi’s idea for ski club became a resounding success

The passion for ski racing in the Shuswap, which helped lead to the creation of the Larch Hills, carries on with the Larch Hills Ski Team that currently has 115 skiers and has won many competitions. Since the two-day long BC Championship began in 1980, Larch Hills has won the trophy eleven times, and for the last seven years in a row! The Midget Team has also excelled, winning the BC Championship for the last eight years.

Throughout the ski season, there are many events that attract hundreds of participants, including Lantern Ski evenings, the Reino Keski-Salmi Loppet attended this year by over 400 skiers, fun races, the extremely popular elementary school “Pirate Loppet,” and provincial championship races during some years.

On any day during the season, there can be many organized groups skiing, including the “Wednesday Wenches,” and the Thursday “Geezers.” Plus, on most mornings, local school buses arrive with student skiers eager for some outdoor learning. It is no wonder that there is now a Larch Hills Nordic Society manager on duty, who supervises activities at the chalet and ensures everything runs smoothly.

The Larch Hills is clearly a key resource for the Shuswap, with its magnificent trail system through both healthy plantations and massive old growth forests. Every year the hills become better known and attract more skiers from afar, and the summer use of the trail network by mountain bikers, horseback riders and hikers continues to expand as well. We can be thankful that there are so many dedicated volunteers that have helped to make the Larch Hills a very popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

skiing

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Glenn Moyer is seeking space on a public wharf in Sicamous in order to restart his water taxi business after a year-long shutdown due to COVID-19. (Glenn’s Water Taxi/Facebook)
Water taxi operator requests public dock moorage in Sicamous

Glenn Moyer, a long time water taxi operator, is brimming with stories of life on the lake

Black Crow Cannabis is just one of Vernon's many pot shops now open in town. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Kelowna has highest cannabis fees in Okanagan

Vernon’s 14 stores pay second highest business licence fees

New signage was installed leading up to the intersection of 10th Avenue SW and Highway 97B in 2019, but concerns have been raised about continuing danger. (File photo)
Improvements urged for Salmon Arm’s Highway 97B/10th Avenue SE intersection

Council may bring up overpass with transportation ministry as crossing under provincial control

Sicamous Council approved a development permit for a new mobile home park on Hillier road on Wednesday, April 14. (Jim Elliot- Eagle Valley News)
Sicamous council approves development of 35 unit mobile home park

The new development will be located on Hillier Road

Flow Academy is located at 1511 Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here’s a quick roundup of the stories that made headlines across the Okanagan, from April 11 to 16

Penticton bylaw officers tore down a “pretty significantly sized” homeless camp underneath the bridge near Riverside Drive Friday, April 16 morning. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton bylaw tears down ‘significantly sized’ homeless camp under bridge

Many residents had made complaints about the camp before it was torn down

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Ford F-350s have been targeted in the North Okanagan by auto thieves since February 2021, Vernon North Okanagan RCMP data shows. (Gene J. Puskar - The Canadian Press/AP file)
Auto thieves target older Ford F-350s in Vernon: RCMP

Vernon Mounties remind all motorists no vehicle is immune to auto crime

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP were present at the McDonalds in Armstrong Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Tomer Joury - Facebook)
Police handle ‘high-risk’ situation at Armstrong residence

A woman was apprehended and taken to hospital under the Mental Health Act; no charges laid

Most Read