The 100 Mile Nordics are appealing to the public to help raise funds to buy new equipment amid growing demand for the sport and plans to resurrect the BC Cup Races next year.
Mike Matfin, a volunteer with the Nordics, said the club desperately needs a new Pisten Bully, as its existing one is getting old and replacement parts are hard to find, making it unreliable. The club currently relies on snowmobile grooming but Matfin noted the Pisten Bully provides more durable trails, especially with the changing weather patterns. A new Pisten Bully costs about $300,000.
“It’s 36 years old and we can’t get parts anywhere. It’s getting up there and there are a lot more issues,” he said, noting the Pisten Bully is more effective in grooming the trails, after a freeze-thaw-freeze and also requires fewer volunteer hours to groom. “It’s the right tool for the job.”
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The Nordics have applied for grants and are posting requests on Facebook and its website asking for donations from members. It is also sending out letters to local businesses asking for help. Up until March 19, Nordiq Canada is offering to help the club with matching funds. All donations will go towards purchasing grooming equipment.
Matfin said the equipment is desperately needed as more people take to the trails during the pandemic. The Nordics have seen a 64 per cent increase in users from last season while organizers are preparing for their first BC Cup Race at the trails for the first time in 20 years.
At one time, 100 Mile was a hot destination for international races, given its location in the centre of the province. The club had previously hosted the BC Championships, Junior Nationals, Western Canadian Championships and the World Championship Trials for Cross Country Canada. The renowned Cariboo Marathon also ran from 1977 to 2014, hosting 1,650 participants at its peak.
The Nordics had hoped to bring the BC Cup back this year but had to postpone it because of COVID-19.
Matfin said cross-country skiing has changed a lot since the old days, with better and more efficient skis, and more people are looking at it as a way to get out and improve their fitness. The club also has a Skill Development program for youth, which this year was capped at 32 participants.
The club, which was the first in the province to purchase a large groomer and the second club to install lights on the trails. In the past few years, the club built eight new recreation trails and installed a 4.5 km lighting system around the stadium and Gentle Giant trail for night skiing.
“I don’t think people realize what a great system we have up here,” Matfin said. “It’s like this little secret. There’s no place in B.C. … two minutes from the coffee shop and you’re up here. You can’t beat it.”
For more information or to help, check out the Nordics website at https://www.100milenordics.com/ or the 100 Mile Nordics Facebook site.