Inuvik Drum: Inuvik Ski Club celebrates volunteers

INUVIK DRUM, Friday, June 1, 2018
by Samantha McKay

Ron Hale, left, and Jay Frandsen, volunteer trail groomers for the Inuvik Ski Club, pose with their willow baskets made by Cathy Gilmore from trees they had groomed on the trail this winter.
Samantha McKay/NNSL photo

Inuvik’s ski trails saw their final run of the season in early May, and the Inuvik Ski Club celebrated the end of another season with a volunteer appreciation barbecue May 28.

Club vice-president Holly Jones said the club had a good season despite experiencing some hurdles.

“We had a bit of a rough go with some of the weather we experienced but, if anything, that helped in the long run because all of the groomers were so dedicated to making the trails really good, but I think they lasted a little bit better this year,” said Jones. “Even with the early warming in the spring, the trails were great, so people were really happy. Despite some of our hurdles throughout the season, we had a really good wrap-up at the end, especially with the loppet, so I’m thrilled.”

Although the club’s programming ended after the Top of the World Loppet April 8, skiers still used the trails until May 7, thanks to the early grooming and packing done by ski club volunteers, she said.

One hurdle the club faced was a lack of properly trained instructors for the Canada-wide Jackrabbit program, a children’s learn-to-ski and skill-building program that usually runs on Sundays.

“We weren’t able to run the Jackrabbits program this year, which has been a staple for a long time in Inuvik,” said Jones. “It’s a capacity issue every year. It’s difficult to find instructors who are willing to give up their Sundays and teach a bunch of kids how to ski.”

Instead, the ski club organized family ski days on Sundays. Equipment rentals were free to families skiing together.

“Seeing families come out to that instead made me realize that it doesn’t really matter if we can run the program or not, people are still going to come out with their kids to ski,” said Jones. “It ended up being nice to have a more grassroots, more organic program instead and have whole families involved. I think it helps the kids learn when they see their parents learning at the same time.”

Next year, Jones said the club would ideally like to run both the Jackrabbits program and the family ski days.

Jones said she would like to see some of the decisions made this year implemented next season.

“We’re keen to implement a lot of the changes we decided on this year, like changing the trail signs, and rename some of those trails,” said Jones. “And then the trails can be even better next year.”