Dec 1, 2005 | Marmot, Winter 2005

Snow Sport Clubs Alive & Well on Mount Washington

A season of no snow has not dimmed interest in these clubs. “Last year was such a tough year,” said John Trimmer, head coach of the Mount Washington Ski Club.


The ski club has rolled over fees for its Alcan Nancy Greene Ski League, which already has quite a few participants re-registered from last year, about 70, Trimmer said. “It’s definitely not a number to worry about at all.”

On the competitive level, racers have been working for their physical fitness on snow and glaciers throughout the summer. There are about 50 athletes in the carded program.
“We did a couple of glacier camps (at Blackcomb and Mt. Hood in Oregon),” he explained. “We basically trained just as we would in winter. We’ll ski, we’ll learn gates, we’ll do technique.”

The glacier camps helped prepare racers for the upcoming winter season. So did early-season training at Apex Alpine. Racers with the ski club compete at the zone level in slalom, GS, Super G and downhill events. They vie for position with skiers from Whistler, Cypress, Grouse Mountain and Hemlock. A number of those kids will qualify to race provincially and the club has had some qualify to compete internationally.

“We have one group, our highest level group – the FIS program. Those athletes basically race against a lot of people from outside the country,” Trimmer said. Mount Washington has hosted FIS events in the past, but not for the last three years.

The ski club has created such products as Alison Forsyth – who is still listed as a club member – and Dustin Fraser, who in the fall was still competing with the provincial ski team. Trimmer expects Fraser to one day make the national team, just like Forsyth.

For more information, visit their website


While the ski club takes over the alpine portion of Mount Washington, the Strathcona Nordics have total control of the Nordic terrain.

The Nordics offer a range of programs for all ages and interests consistent with the ideal that cross-country skiing is a lifelong sport. The programs fall roughly into two categories: recreational skiing/ski skill development and ski training/athlete development/racing.

“Our programs should not be confused with lessons‚ or ski instruction‚ which is provided by Mount Washington and their ski instructors,” Nordics president Len Apedaile said. “You have to be a club member to participate in our sessions.”

Programs include Jackrabbits (ages 3-12), adventure program (ages 10-16), Devo program (ages 10-14), junior racing and high-performance racing programs (ages 14-19 and older). Masters programs are for people aged 20 years and older.

The club hired a full-time professional coach, Dave Battison, in May 2004 to help the club develop and lead its athlete and volunteer coach development programs. Battison helped develop last year’s programs and also implemented a summer training program for the junior and masters athletes.

“Dave’s accomplishments over the season despite the snow were tremendous and are evidenced in the enthusiasm and dedication of the young athletes who are in the program,” Apedaile said.
The other thing the Strathcona Nordics club does is organize races that are open to everyone. The annual Loppet is the highlight of the season and is scheduled this year for March 18, 2006.
“The 2005 season was a tough one for the nordic teams,” Apedaile said in his president’s report at the club’s AGM in September.

The year was disastrous from a skiing perspective due to the lack of snow from mid-January through to the end of March. This resulted in the curtailment of most club programs and the cancellation of all club races, the Loppet and on snow coaching courses. The lack of snow also meant we were unable to ski on the new trails that were developed above the lodge during the summer of 2004.

Despite the poor conditions, the club maintained its membership base; the only effect being that for the first time since the club’s inception in 1998, its membership did not grow. “Our membership base remains more than double the average club size for B.C. clubs, the 11th largest out of 67,” he said.

For more information, visit their website


The Comox Valley was once home to strong luge competition, so much so that when the Wood Mountain Luge run closed, Mount Washington created its own 300-metre-long natural luge run in the glade next to Raven Lodge to accommodate the interest.

However, the sport’s local competitors have grown up or gone on to other activities, says onetime organizer James Robinson. “Luge has collapsed here,” he said. “There are no teams at present.”


While luge appears to be dead, freestyle skiing is gaining in popularity. The mountain will host the Dairyland Slopestyle Competition on Feb. 4, 2006, featuring riders and skiers competing in a number of different jumps, hits and features down the slopestyle course. They’ll show off style, technique and flow.


The Vancouver Island Society for Adaptive Snowsports (VISAS) offers instruction in all aspects of skiing, alpine and nordic, snowboarding, race programs and skill improvement for people with all types of disabilities. The society has been advancing the abilities of disabled skiers for more than 30 years.
They also offer certified training to prospective instructors through the Canadian Association of Disabled Skiers, where instructors learn to use adaptive equipment and techniques to enhance the abilities of students.

For more information on VISAS, visit their website at

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