Like all Inuvik groups, the ski club has seen fluctuations in interest over the past few years, with last year being particularly down as most of the core group moved on.
But the club is looking brighter now with the enthusiastic pair of Patrick Gall and Holly Jones leading it in preparation for the 50th anniversary of the Top of the World Loppet next spring.
“With the up and down and ebb and flow of the quantity of the people who are here and skiing, (the loppet) is kind of constantly reinventing itself,” said Gall, now president of the Inuvik Ski Club, talking about last year’s loppet, which saw 10 people come out.
“It is the 50th, but it certainly feels like it will be the first of its kind, because change is happening so rapidly.”
The club is making a big marketing push to make the event, scheduled for April 8 and 9 something special.
“The goal of this year is to have the loppet go well,” said Gall. “All the build-up will be in support of that, making it as fun as possible and trying to make it economically important as well. If we can get a lot of people in from out of town, that means a lot (to) tourism and the economic development inside the town as well.”
The loppet isn’t necessarily just racing, but more of a cross-country skiing event. It’s designed for all skill levels to enjoy the sport together.
“If you want to go fast, you can go fast; if you want to go slow, you can go slow as well,” said Gall. “As long as you’re having fun, that’s the key point.”
The ski club is hoping to hook up with the communities to bring as many people in for the event as possible.
“It would be amazing if there were kids from all the schools in the Beaufort Delta here skiing with their gym classes and their gym teachers,” said Gall. “It would be great to have people from southern cities in Canada who maybe don’t know much about the North to come see it and have something in common with the people here.”
In terms of numbers, he’s hoping for 100 skiers for the event.
Jones, vice-president of the club, hopes more adults come out this year and get trained to teach youth.
“We had two girls last year who were 12, and I was really keen to get them moving a little bit faster and working on their technique, but when they’re in a group with kids who are seven and eight, the needs are totally different,” said Jones, who comes from a competitive racing and coaching background.
“We’d like to cater to each level of youth sport development. Hopefully we can get enough people out and break up into different groups so kids can get more individual attention and have fun on their skis as well.”
A number of events are already up on the club’s schedule, but they’re dependent on interest. November includes a candlelight ski under the full moon.
“As much as I’d like to go out and ski by myself with tiki torches, it’s a lot more fun with other people,” said Jones.
The skiing season is just beginning with the first dumps of snow in Inuvik. Members of the club get free use of equipment for club events, such as the candlelight ski, while non-members can rent equipment at their leisure.