Megan Lohmann grew up cross-country skiing in the 1990s in Ontario. She loved the sport, and especially the close-knit community associated with it. Now a mom of two living in Fernie, B.C., Lohmann is introducing her kids to skinny skis and helping her preferred winter pastime gain a boot hold in a town better known for its steep-and-deep downhill terrain.
She’s a founding board member and the president of the Fernie Nordic Society (FNS), which has grown from a handful of members to more than 700 since its inception in 2006. What’s more, 31 per cent of members are from outside of Fernie, hailing mainly from Alberta.
“The sport is taking off,” says Lohmann. “We have a lot of tourists who come to Fernie and want a day off from alpine skiing, so they explore the Nordic option. And the past couple of years we’ve had people coming for the sole purpose of cross-country skiing.”
As outdoor enthusiasts look for more ways to stay active all year, it’s no wonder they’re waxing up skinny skis and hitting track-set trails – Nordic skiing is a really good workout. There’s also something romantically old-school about the sport. You can’t help but feel awestruck by nature while gliding through a silent forest under your own power as giant snowflakes twirl down from the sky.
To keep pace with the growing interest in Nordic, the number of trails in the Elk Valley has greatly increased, and their quality has improved, thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers that track-sets and grooms new snowfall.
Last fall, a trail was completed that connects the Elk Valley Nordic Centre’s skier-only trails (no dogs or fat bikes allowed) in Mt. Fernie Provincial Park with those at the base of the ski hill. There is also a cross-country network up at Island Lake Lodge as well as trails maintained by the FNS at the Fernie Golf and Country Club adjacent to downtown. In total, there are more than 50 km of groomed Nordic trails in the area.
As more families like Lohmann’s add cross-country skiing to their activity repertoire, this traditional winter pursuit should continue its renaissance. “It’s a very accessible sport for families, from a cost perspective and the logistics of it,” she says, adding that skiers can head out for a quick ski rather than dedicate the entire day. “It’s pretty awesome to have a sport that we can do all together.”
Plus, make this popular cross-country ski trip for a traditional Swiss raclette dinner
A popular local adventure is cross-country skiing from Fernie Alpine Resort to Birch Meadows Lodge for a traditional Swiss raclette dinner, where melted cheese is scraped onto a plate to be eaten with bread, veggies and meats. The moderate-to-difficult, eight-km trail is just arduous enough to work up an appetite. The raclette experience requires a group of eight or more and advance reservations