The Fernie Nordic Society Makes Tracks

Photo by Megan Walsh

By the time February rolls around, you’re knee deep in winter. Either you’re an avid snow enthusiast and have fully embraced it, or you’re tolerant and have succumbed to its demands. Either way it’s here to stay and what better way to enjoy it, than to explore all that Fernie winter has to offer. Believe me, you’ll be busy until spring, as there’s a lot.

One activity growing in popularity with all ages, speeds and styles is Nordic Skiing and Fernie is fast accommodating. If you haven’t heard of the Fernie Nordic Society (FNS), you soon will. It’s a “ski club in transition,” describes Club President, Megan Lohmann.

Let’s start at the beginning. Kids. There are lots of them in this town and if you pass by the Fernie Golf Course on Saturday morning, you’ll see a number of them on little toothpicks, enthusiastically shuffling around like a gaggle of little chicks behind mother hen. “We have seen significant growth in our Kids Skill Development programs, with 67 kids participating this year and nine new coaches – almost doubling last year.”

FNS registration is now online resulting in an influx of memberships, along with a Communications Director. With an increase in traffic, comes an increase in grooming at the Golf Course, dike and dog-friendly backcountry trail that runs along the river. Subsequently the FNS Board of Directors is looking to the future with a big dream. “We envision Fernie hosting high-level races on a Regional, Provincial and National scale, expanding our Kids Program, bigger membership and Nordic skiing becoming another draw for visitors to Fernie.”

FNS is also pleased to announce that a Fernie Nordic Centre is officially coming to fruition.

“We’ve kicked off Phase 1 of our trail expansion, after going through a careful competitive bidding process to identify a trail designer. We are pleased to bring one of the country's top Nordic trail designers Reidar Zapf-Gilje to work with us. He’s designed numerous club ski trails in BC, working with non-profit organizations to design trails that meet both the needs of beginner and Cross Country Canada's criteria to host races to a National level. Most notable, he was a part of the 2010 Olympic Trail design in Whistler.”

Great work FNS, it’s going to be fantastic!

New FNS Coaches // Jeff Williams and Anie Radish
To give an insight into coaching, I spoke with Jeff and Anie about what they give and get from being a part of FNS.

What’s your Nordic background?
Anie grew up Nordic skiing in Kananaskis, describing it as some of her first real Canadian memories. “I love the quiet, being in the woods, carrying a hot drink in a thermos, stopping to look around. Nordic skiing, with its subtle and repetitive movement, keeps me centred during the long winters here in the Kootenays.”

What has coaching brought to you?
“Coaching has allowed me to breakdown technique and work on my own skiing fundamentals,” says Jeff. “Sometimes the simplest ski techniques are difficult to explain to kids.” Whereas Anie enjoys, “the relational aspect of the role, getting to know the kids, parents and grandparents as well as the challenge of trying to unlearn all the errors of my technique!”

What were you surprised to learn about FNS?
Both Jeff and Anie were unanimous: “How much work Annie Duciaume and Clark Weber put into the club!”

What’s planned for your season?
“I plan on going in a few races this winter and hope to get many of the kids I’m coaching to enter as well,” says Jeff. Anie is “looking forward to a trip to Birch Meadows as well as plotting to get skate skis through rascally means of trading knitting, sewing or ukulele lessons!” I suggest you track her down.

How has Nordic Skiing changed in Fernie?
“Nordic skiing is the fastest growing segment of business at many BC ski resorts. Many of my friends are turning to it as a way to get exercise and escape the crowds at the hill,” says Jeff.

As a Club that is entirely volunteer-based, the FNS demonstrates yet another team of motivated individuals in Fernie. With a Nordic Centre on the way, visit and buy your membership now, as you never know what you might be funding next.