BONNYVILLE - The Bonnyville Nordic Ski Club is making strides as it works to build its presence in the region, and has recently secured funds to purchase ski equipment.
The newly created club in Bonnyville will receive a $6,000 equipment grant through a new AltaGas grant program designed to support clubs.
"The reality we have discovered, is that there has always been great interest in Nordic skiing in our region, by many individuals and families," says Les Parsons. "The growth of Nordic skiing in our Lakeland Region is taking off."
The AltaGas grant will help purchase a number of sets of sport performance competitive calibre classic ski equipment, that Lakeland region skiers can use to train and compete in local and regional loppets and races. The grant will not only benefit Bonnyville-region skiers, but skiers throughout the Lakeland.
"Because our region is new to performance skiing, we are purchasing waxless classic skin skis or crown skis, to provide athletes with skis that are good enough for a respectable performance at competitions," explains Parsons, in information that was submitted in a grant proposal.
"Waxless sport performance calibre classic skis simplify our efforts to develop the basic fundamentals of Nordic training in our region."
During the first year of the Bonnyville club's start up, the focus is on young athletes who live throughout the Lakeland Region, and who only have access to classic ski trails. Skate skiing will be introduced in year two of the club's development plan.
"The unique character of our project is that it supports athletes and coaches from three rural urban municipalities, smaller rural communities, and rural family farms, in our region with a population of approximately 50,000 people . . . By working together with clubs in our region, we will gain strength in numbers to effectively recruit athletes, and support elite skier development," says Parsons.
Efforts to train coaches in Bonnyville and St. Paul have also been underway this winter, with strong interest being show.
The club has bit plans for the next few years. Along with driving membership and increasing interest in the sport, the club hopes to host a number of events, and create a presence in other communities.
Developing a "Tour de Lakeland Loppet" Series and Jackrabbit jamborees are included in the list of goals for next season, along with hosting an Alberta Loppet.
The following year, the Lakeland clubs aim to host an Alberta Cup and a Lakeland Nordic Championship event.