Calgary

Volunteers prepare trails for cross-country skiing at Confederation Park

About 20 volunteers were out at Confederation Park Golf Course "snow farming" on Sunday — preparing trails for Calgary's cross-country enthusiasts to enjoy, without ever needing to leave the city.

Foothills Nordic Ski Club has cleared trails since losing space at Canada Olympic Park

Volunteers from the Foothills Nordic Ski Club were out shoveling Confederation park on Sunday to prepare trails for cross-country skiing. (Helen Pike/CBC)

Calgary now has enough snow for the cross-country season to begin — but the trails need to be groomed first.

For that, about 20 volunteers were out Sunday morning "snow farming" at the Confederation Park Golf Course, moving snow to create trails. 

For six years the Foothills Nordic Ski Club has had an agreement with the city to turn the area into a local destination for cross-country enthusiasts. 

"That's really the only reason we're able to ski here," said Jamie Grant, the club's coordinator for Confederation Park.  Trail-grooming is fuelled by donations to the club.

Calgary does not typically receive a lot of snow, he said, especially with the warm winter chinooks.

Grant said for the first week of December, kids classes were still mostly running on the grass. 

With the previous night's fresh snowfall, families were already gathering Sunday to get some time in on their skis.

Pandemic growth

The pandemic has seen more Calgarians take up the sport.

"It's been a big difference," Grant said. Local trails have been consistently busy, he said, and enrollment for the club — which numbers about 600 or 700 members — has gone up, especially for younger kids' programs.

The terrain at Confederation Park is especially suited for beginners, he said. But a big draw for the local trails is location — no need to drive an hour out to the mountains.

"With people working from home, it's a place to go at lunch time," Grant said.

"It also encourages people to embrace winter."

Scott Kajner was out cross-country skiing with his kids Sunday for the first time this season. (Helen Pike/CBC)

Scott Kajner was skiing with his two kids on Sunday, their first run for the season.

"It's cheaper than downhill skiing and the kids love it," he said. Kajner said children can start practicing as toddlers and follow on the trails by the time they're three.

He said cross-country skiing in the city is quick and convenient.

His daughter, Zoa Kajner, said she has been waiting to get on her skis since last season. The 8-year-old was excited when she saw this year's first snowfall.

'Because I like snow."

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