Golden
Kicking Horse

For the love of nordic

RICK MACDONNELL

Golden Nordic Ski Club, Wayne Manzer
Wayne Manzer, a trail greeter with the Golden Nordic Ski Club, has found rejuvenation through cross-country skiing.
RICK MACDONNELL/SnowSeekers

GOLDEN, BC – For all the enjoyment I get out of downhill skiing, there's often a veiled competitiveness surrounding it that I find hard to ignore. Maybe it's the speed involved, or the clear designations between ability levels; I'm not sure. What I do know is the ever-present sense of judgement I feel on a ski hill is completely removed during off-hill activities.

When I took the job with SnowSeekers I looked forward to downhill skiing, and everything else fell by the wayside. Now, a year and a half later, it's the days that allow me off-hill excursions that really get me excited.

The developing winter passion in my life is nordic skiing, so I was extremely happy to meet with Wayne Manzer of the Golden Nordic Ski Club and explore some of Golden's finest cross-country trails over some spirited conversation.

Officially on the map

"The evolution of nordic skiing in Golden has been relatively slow, in that the nordic community has really been here since the 70s," Manzer informed me. "But what started with something of an isolated group has slowly grown into a full blown membership."

At the beginning of the 09/10 nordic season, the Golden Nordic Ski Club had 375 members. Now, years later the clubs membership continues to expand. What that speaks to, aside from the vibrant local support, is an increased number of destination nordic skiers coming to Golden.

"We've hit the map as far as nordic skiers are concerned in Alberta and BC. It blew me away when I noticed it happening." 

Manzer's an active trail greeter on the weekends, saying hello to the trails' visitors, answering questions, and handing out information. In the past, nordic skiing at Dawn Mountain would involve people who came to Kicking Horse [Mountain Resort] who wanted a day off from skiing, or maybe the rest of their family were skiers but they weren't. Nordic was an alternate activity for them. But now, people are coming to Golden for nothing but the nordic skiing.

"I was talking to some people from just outside of Red Deer a little while ago who told me that they'd passed nine different nordic areas to come here. We have the snow – and we have good snow – and we have the grooming and a long season. I was skiing into the middle of April last year."

An experience worth travelling for

Jan Hudec, Lake Louise, 2007 Canada
Golden's new day lodge should be fully operational for the start of the 2011/12 nordic season.
RICK MACDONNELL/SnowSeekers

I can certainly understand all the excitement. The grooming is terrific, the environment is stunning, and the addition of a brand new day lodge makes the Golden nordic experience something worth travelling for. 

The more than 30 km of varied trails groomed for classic and skate skiing will keep you busy for as long as you'd like, really. The trail combinations are too numerous to even count, making every outing a little different, if that's what you're looking for. And with the addition of unregulated snowshoe trails that can be accessed right from the parking lot, you're able to switch activities in a flash. 

For all the scenery and exercise that I took from my day nordic skiing in Golden, what I'll take away from it is the spirit with which the Nordic Club operates. This not-for-profit organization has put in countless hours over the years for nothing more than the love of cross-country skiing. The level of altruism demonstrated by Manzer and company is inspiring. They do things the right way at the Golden Nordic Ski Club.

"The fact that I can get up and do this every day is something that I really treasure at this point," said Manzer, who is a recent cancer survivor. "That I can get outside and enjoy the air and the scenery and have fun while I'm doing it is fantastic."

For information on the Golden Nordic Ski Club, including their various events, costs, lessons, maps, and more, visit www.goldennordicclub.ca.

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