We’ve have a few light frosts — and snow on the Coquihalla — so ski season must be on the way.
Manning Park Resort has plans to open their alpine and nordic centres on the December 10 weekend and the Manning Ski Club is rounding up new members for its season, which starts on Jan. 8.
Club president Jim Hinton said on Sunday that the club has signed 20 members and is waiting on confirmation from four more.
“Our cap will be at 30 because of our coaching numbers,” said Hinton.
“I’ve been with the club for the last four years, since my son Jonathan was four years old,” explained the president. “I took the Canadian Ski Association coaching course, along with about eight others — but most of them have now moved on, as their kids have grown out of the program. It’s open for ages four to 12 this year but used to be for ages five to 11.
“B.C. Alpine offers coaching courses, so we’ll send a parent and an instructor to one,” added Hinton. “Mark Hemphill, of Abbotsford, is the head coach this year.
“We’ve got families driving in from Langley, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Hope and Princeton — and those from west of the Port Mann, like my family, have cabins at Eastgate,” said Hinton, whose weekday home is near the base station of the Grouse Mountain gondola.
“Manning is at least 1,000 feet higher than the North Shore mountains and it’s not so affected by the coastal weather systems, so the snow is so much nicer. And Manning is way better for families,” said Hinton, who has had property at Eastgate for the last 17 years.
The club has planned to start a ten-session season on Jan. 8, with training on Sundays.
“We’ve set a registration cut-off for Nov. 1 for returning members and we’ll probably be signing eight or nine new members this season,” figured Hinton.
It’s not for total beginners, though.
“Kids have to be able to ski a green run — such as the Wagon Trail on the Blue Chair — and be comfortable with being away from their parents for four hours.
“Manning has offered us various assistance in the past but they have seen the club as an asset to the hill this year and they have offered free ski passes for our members and 40 per cent off for other family members,” said Hinton.
Program cost is $225 per child, with about half of the fee going to insurance through BC Alpine. The ski pass allows members to ski for free throughout the season.
Hinton said the Nancy Greene program will be taught in three streams this year: level 1 for those new to the program; level 2 and 3 for those who can do parallel turns; and levels 3 to 5 or 6 for advanced skiers.
“One challenge we have is the retention of older skiers, once they have grown out of the Nancy Green program,” said Hinton. “We have some skiers up to age 17 and for them we might be able to do some avalanche awareness work and back-country awareness, such as working with transceivers and burying a backpack and letting them locate it and dig it up.”
Hope’s Kevin and Michelle Chisholm and their family were involved with the Manning team for two years but they have chosen to just get season’s passes and enjoy the skills they have learned through the club.
“Hannah is still young enough but David and Jacob have outgrown the program,” said Kevin on Monday.
“We really benefitted from our years with the club, though,” he added. “The kids went from the bunny hill to black diamond in one year. We would have never been able to teach them how to ski that well in such a short period of time.
“In two years, they learned to ski so well that we can ski as a family now,” added Kevin. “I recommend it 100 per cent. It’s well run, with great kids and there’s a real family orientation.”