I have been lucky enough, during my short time in Vancouver, to hook up with the UBC Nordic Ski team, an energetic group of skiers who share a common love for snow. I had planned, this past weekend, to tag along to Silver Star for their annual early-snow training camp. However, Silver Star was not its reliable self this season, and didn’t have great snow. A nordic ski centre to the south of Silver Star, however, had reportedly received about 50 cm of snow and had many trails open. So, on Thursday, off we went in two cars, an old 15 passenger van, and a truck, to the Nickel Plate Nordic Centre.
The Nickel Plate Nordic Centre (hereafter known as the NPNC) is in the mountain range southwest of the town of Penticton (famous for hosting Ironman Canada). It is situated very near a downhill resort called Apex, although Nickel Plate is, surprisingly, at a higher elevation than all but the peak of Apex. NPNC lies at between 1800 and 1900 metres of elevation. And did they ever have snow! The trails were great, beautifully groomed. I must admit I was a little skeptical; years of racing have led me to believe that I have skied the majority of the nice trails in Canada, but I now believe there are many gems yet to be found. Nickel Plate is relatively unknown because it is fairly new, and because they have been reluctant to host any races save their annual loppet. They shouldn’t be reluctant; they have a beautiful, roomy, new lodge facility, and 56k of trails over rolling terrain with some excellent racecourse potential. Trail names like “Vindicator”, “Speculator”, and “Stemwinder” add to the pleasure of skiing at Nickel Plate.
The weather was fabulous this past weekend, with sun on Saturday and Sunday and new snow on both Monday and Tuesday. As per usual, the first hours on snow are long, slow, and easy. This was particularly important given the altitude. On Tuesday morning, the BC ski team was having a time trial, and I joined them. It was tough, given the altitude and my rusty technique, but it was a good measure of my fitness level. I was fairly pleased with how I felt, which is about all an early season time trial is good for.
Now, it’s back to Vancouver and the accompanying rain. Can’t wait until Silver Star!