Aurélie and Louison from the Fernie Nordic Racers team are inviting more young racers to join this dynamic group of young athletes. They explain that the key benefit of the club is having fun while training for races.
“If you enjoy Nordic skiing, racing, and the outdoors, you should join the Fernie Nordic Racers. We are a very encouraging group of people, and we all support each other. Each athlete has their own goals to reach. You should join us and reach yours” say the girls.
The girls outline two good reasons for joining the club. They explain the first reason is “Fernie Nordic Racers is a wonderful group of athletes and coaches, that are always enthusiastic, and ready to train. Our coaches: John Shaw, Jeff Williams, Naomi Lentz, and Helen McAlister, coach a group of athletes ranging between the age 9 and 18 years old”, with coaching targeted to two age groups — under 12 and over 12.
The second reason is the comprehensive fall training program. Both groups meet on Tuesday with the under 12 group going for a 45-minute run on the trails around the Aquatic Centre while the older group trains with the Fernie Secondary School cross country running team. In addition, the older group also trains with the running team on Thursdays. “Our workout (as older athletes) is formed of a warmup (10-minute run + A’s, B’s, C’s), a running workout (hills, tempo runs, intervals, etc.…), and a cool down (5-minute jog, and dynamic stretching). On Fridays we have a dryland training with the whole team for 1 hour. We start with a 20-minute fitness game then we roller ski for 40 minutes. Sometimes the older athletes have a long and slow run, on Saturdays or Sundays. Some older athletes also use Training Peaks to keep track of training outside of practices. We also go training camps, which are fun and instructive,” say the girls.
It’s a classic Fernie fall day and I am sitting at one of the picnic tables in front of the Nordic hut enjoying the view, the changing colours, and crisp air. This mid-day break from zoom calls is welcome as I wave to Johnny Shaw, who is hauling wood in preparation for winter bon-fires. The Fernie Nordic Society’s Race Team Head Coach has agreed to join me for a chat about how he and his family came to be among the founding members of the Society. As a newbie to both the Nordic sport and Fernie Club, there is no better way to immerse myself in both than a chat with Johnny.
Johnny never left Fernie after arriving for a one season visit in 1996. He came to learn to snowboard and quickly settled into seasonal residency with the purchase of a house. Sound familiar? Snowboarding morphed into telemark skiing and then alpine. He loved it, but when he and Virginia (a Doctor in Fernie’s healthcare community) welcomed baby Wes. Fatherhood required a pivot to accommodate paternity leave and napping schedules. A pair of classic fish scale skis and a Nordic chariot allowed for a daily rhythm of afternoon glides around the Nordic track near the Aquatic Centre (now the home of Fernie’s infamous jump park) and the Island Lake Lodge road. An interest initially piqued during a university cross country ski course while pursuing his Kinesiology degree at Lakehead University crystalized into a new found passion as Johnny realized the physical benefits of the sport. The fun of alpine skiing had some physical consequences that Johnny now saw healing as he benefited from the all body work out of Nordic skiing. “Why do Nordic Skiers chew gum” he asked me? So that they are using every single muscle while skiing! And for many, that can mean fitness with the curative effect of a balanced workout. Johnny was hooked! He could see now why Virginia had settled into the sport at McGill, while pursuing her PhD – one hour on skis had huge physical benefit and was easily accessible almost anywhere. In a mountain town, on a university campus or in the middle of the city.
As Johnny continued to look for family time with baby Marley and 3 year old Wes, and with a nudge to coach from Clark Weber, his role in the Jackrabbit program was born. Johnny & Virginia continued to love the Nordic family scene, and though they pulled back a bit from lessons until the kids were 5 or 6, they remained active and committed to getting outdoors together during Fernie’s long winters. The kids were generally keen to head to lessons, and Mom and Dad got fresh air and fitness.
Fast forward to today and a 15 year old Wes and 14 year old Marley are active in the race program and Dad is Head Coach. Mom enjoys balancing a busy career with her favorite winter sport and loves being a member of the support and cheering squad (and avid masters racer). I asked Johnny how Nordic skiing still works for them despite different goals, life stages and interest for a family of four.
Here is what I intuitively knew, but Johnny confirmed: Skiing with the Fernie Nordic club is accessible and flexible. You want to improve your skills – great? You want to compete – yep – let’s do it! You want a community for lifelong fitness and friendships – this is your place. You create your track and that is why it works. Each child and club member gets to personalize their goal.
Oh – and there are some benefits to being a smaller club – all ages in the race programs train together. This develops coaching and mentorship skills for the older kids and is inspiration for the younger ones. It also works across a variety of ages and skill levels because Johnny encourages them to compete against themselves and not each other. Words to live by!
Accessible, confidence building, fitness supporting and family fun – thanks for the inspiration Robinson-Shaw family. We’re in!
Last Saturday was another Skill Development Program lesson for 46 young skiers at the Nordic Centre.
The new Family Friendly Ski event followed on Sunday afternoon at 4 pm. We inaugurated the new and very long string of lights along the kids loop by the staging area. A fun place to ski after dark! About twenty adult skiers participated in the event as well as a few children either on dad’s back or in a chariot. The trails were well groomed and the skiing was great!
The January 25-26 weekend was also the time for our Fernie Nordic Racers to shine at the Teck Kootenay Cup in Nipika.
Twenty racers from Fernie completed the classic races on Saturday and 17 did the skate races on Sunday. In total the racers received 9 podium positions. Three young racers did amazingly well in their first cross country ski race ever. The trails were well groomed and track set although hard and very icy. Good participation by our young racing team and several adults from Fernie.
The results of the classic races are HERE and the ones from the skate races are HERE. The current standings in the Kootenay Cup are on this page. Go Fernie Racers!
All the regional races were cancelled during the 2020-2021 season. But they are back for the 2021-2022 season! The first Teck Kootenay Cup race weekend is on December 11 & 12 2021. Each finisher, young or adult, accumulates points toward the Cup. Go! Fernie Go!
The Teck Regional Cup series offer affordable, accessible competitive opportunities for developing athletes and are sponsored by Teck throughout B.C. All Regional Cup races offer age-appropriate categories for children 14 years of age and younger, and most offer the full spectrum of categories for skiers of all ages from the CCBC website.
Skiers of the Fernie Nordic Society have participated in the Teck Kootenay Cup series of races every year. Our club has won the Cup in the 2014-2015, 2015-2016, 2017-2018 seasons and again in 2018-2019 in part due to the large participation by the young Fernie Nordic Racers of our own race team as well as by many adult skiers from Fernie. Any FNS club member who participates in these races contributes points for our team. So join in! All dates are posted on our calendar.
The Fernie Nordic Racers is our own ski racing team. Aged from 9 and up, the team members follow a regular training before and during the ski season. They aim to improve their skills in a fun way.
The main goal of the Fernie Nordic Racers program is to establish a healthy, nurturing competitive environment. We feel that competition provides one of the best opportunities for children to be exposed to rules and social values as well as defining the need to get along well with others and be accepted as part of a team. The team will put a strong emphasis on promoting values such as tolerance, fairness and responsibility.
One of our key initiatives is to have fun while learning to ski fast on nordic skis. We believe nordic skiing is a lifelong sport that promotes a well-rounded physical fitness base. Team members establish friendships with kids of different ages, from different schools and from various communities. These friendships play a positive role in their social development and add to the primary focus of having fun while skiing. Skiers learn both skate and classical nordic ski techniques. Positive attitude and sportsmanship are stressed. Some team members seek high-level competition while others take a recreational approach to the sport and may not compete in races. Regardless of their level of competition, kids will have a lot of fun and develop healthy, life-long skiing skills and an appreciation of the beautiful mountain outdoors. Team members are encouraged to learn to be responsible for themselves in term of keeping track of all their gear, having appropriate clothing, water and snacks, and learning to maintain their own skis.
The 2021-2022 season of the the Nordic Society will be the eighth year of the Fernie Racers. Our Race Team is for kids 9 years or older who have been previously enrolled in nordic ski lessons for at least one season. If your child is interested in joining the team, please contact the Coach Naomi before September 4, 2021 through the Contact Us page on this site.
The races 7 & 8 in Nelson ended on Sunday Feb 24 with Fernie leading the other clubs by a large margin ahead of Kimberley, Nelson and Rossland. This was a great effort by our Fernie Nordic Racers as well as the participation by many adults from Fernie. Thank you to the combined efforts of all the volunteers who were involved in the races held in Fernie on January 5 & 6. This is our fourth win in five seasons!