By BC Winter Games
Well known as a summer destination because of its beaches, snow lovers also have their place in Penticton with the slopes of Apex Mountain Resort and the trails of the Nickel Plate Nordic Centre to play on.
Both will welcome the province’s best young athletes for the Penticton 2016 BC Winter Games, Feb. 25-28. They will have top conditions to shine on. This season has quickly become the best for Apex Mountain, which has a snow base of 219 centimetres.
“Conditions are absolutely fantastic,” said Apex Mountain Resort general manager James Shalman.
The amount of snowfall has resulted in an increase in skier visits. Conditions at Nickel Plate Nordic Centre, seven-kilometres higher, are just as good.
When it comes to preparing the courses, Apex crews have rebuilt Kristi’s run, named after Olympian and BC WInter Games alumna Kristi Richards. Already the area has hosted the Canadian Selections camp, Timber Tour and the WIN Canada Cup Canadian Series this season.
“Every competition and training day the moguls get shaped differently,” said Shalman. “The more snowfall that we get, which we have been getting so much snowfall, changes the shape of them. That kind of gets affected on the freestyle side of things.”
Freestyle skiing consists of moguls, halfpipe, slope style and big air. In moguls, athletes navigate a steep course of bumps and fly over two jumps performing aerial tricks. Marks are awarded for the technical quality of turns, the two aerial maneuvers and speed. The skiers range in age from 11 to 16.
In alpine skiing, 13- and 14-year old’s race the clock striving for the fastest times. Shalman said there has been a lot of preparation as they want hard and firm conditions.
The two disciplines are giant slalom and slalom. BC Games alumni that have competed internationally include three-time Olympian and multiple World Cup Champion Rob Boyd (1980 BC Winter Games), 2010 Olympian and three-time World Cup Champion Britt Janyk (1995 BC Summer Games), and Kelowna’s Kelsey Serwa, a Ski Cross World Champion and 2014 Olympic silver medalist (2002 BC Winter Games).
Over at Nickel Plate, cross country skiers will test their endurance in a sport that demands exceptional skill and fitness. Racers use two basic ski techniques: classic, where the skis move parallel to each other, and skating, where skiers push off with the edge of their ski similar to ice skating. Notable BC Games alumni include World Cup medallist and two-time Olympian George Grey of Rossland, who competed in the 1994 BC Winter Games.
For those not competing, there are amenities to enjoy. Apex has a one-kilometre ice skating loop, which is lit until 11 p.m., as well as an NHL sized, outdoor skating rink, the highest in Canada. There is a tube park and people can go snowshoeing. While athletes compete at Nickel Plate, the loppet loop and outer trails are open to the public.