Whaleback to host provincial ski marathon this weekend

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Whaleback Nordic Ski Club of Stephenville is all ready to host the 44th Colemans Newfoundland and Labrador Cross Country Ski Marathon, which is slated to start at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

Graham Oliver

“We’re very excited about hosting what has become the flagship event on the CCNL Calendar," said Graham Oliver, chair of this year’s marathon committee.

"We have skiers from all over the province registering for the event, the long range forecast is excellent and our trails  are groomed to perfection, so we’re ready to go.”

The very first Newfoundland Ski Marathon Tour was held near Springdale in circa 1970. There were no dedicated ski trails for the first marathon so the organizers connected a series of old roads, set up several militia tents to provide refreshments along the route and off they went.

With 43 years under its belt, the marathon has evolved to keep up with the changing face of cross country skiing. This year’s event will feature 2.5 km, 7.5 km, 13 km, 20 km and 40 km courses. All trails will be groomed for skating and classic skiing, there will be refreshment stations along the route and the event will start and finish at the Whaleback ski chalet.

Following the marathon, there will be apres-ski socializing at the chalet and in the evening there will be a presentation of awards banquet at Stephenville High.

After the banquet, marathon festivities with continue with a  kitchen party at the chalet where the marathoners and volunteers will be entertained by a number of local musicians.     

Mr. Oliver has been skiing the marathon ever since he participated in his first Newfoundland Ski Marathon hosted by the Pasadena Ski Club back in 1978. The Pasadena marathon attracted close to 300 participants and has gone down in history as arguably the best ever marathon.  

The early marathons had just one set of classic tracks and the course usually  meandered through a series of logging roads, wood’s trails and across ponds before delivering the weary skier back to the finish.

However, when skate skiing became popular in the 1990s, the NL Ski Marathon was forced to accommodate the new technique by offering courses groomed for both classic.  

In order to do this, the marathon was moved into defined ski parks where the trails were wider and regularly groomed for skating and classic.

This year’s marathon will be hosted within the confines of the Whaleback Nordic Ski Park on a six metre wide trail that will be groomed by a BR250 wide-track grooming machine. The 40 km senior course will consist of two laps of a 20 km loop.

Skiers wishing to register for the marathon can visit www.whalebacknordic.ca and look under the marathon tab. Registration can be done online, by fax 709-643-6933, or at the Whaleback Nordic ski chalet between 7 and 10 p.m. on Friday, March 7.

For more information contact Graham Oliver at 709-643-5426.

Organizations: Pasadena Ski Club, NL Ski Marathon, Nordic

Geographic location: Springdale, Pasadena, Whaleback Nordic Ski Park

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