Nova Scotia·Blog

Cross-country skiing has 'amazing' resurgence in Nova Scotia

Volunteers help to pack down and smooth out cross-country skiing trails in Nova Scotia, helping to give the sport a resurgence.

Grooming at Brunello Estates, and McDonald Sports Park and others have helped create boom in the sport

I'm standing next to Lorenzo Caterini, a ski club volunteer who's thrilled at the boom in cross-country skiing. (CBC)

I'm trying my hand at cross-country skiing at the newest site in the Halifax area — Brunello Estates in Timberlea.

"This is what it's all about, enjoying groomed trails and being able to ski outside our back door in wonderful venues," said Lorenzo Caterini, a member of Martock Nordic Ski Club and one of 16 volunteer trail groomers. 

Their grooming work at Brunello Estates, McDonald Sports Park, Dollar Lake Provincial Park and Graves Oakley Memorial Park has created a boom in the sport. 

Those who cross-country ski are excited about the grooming and growing interest in the sport.

"There's a spike in skate skiing and last year we saw a spike compared to the year before," said Andrew Myatt of Mountain Equipment Co-op, who races and teaches cross-country skiing. 

Growing trends

The work done by ski club volunteers on snowmobiles with grooming rollers hitched on the back has led to increased registration numbers at their club.  

Their club at Martock now has 410 members when just two years ago it had 135. 

Joining the club is inexpensive and the money helps cover the cost of the snowmobile equipment, groomers and gas. 

The club is also fundraising all the time. Through races and donations, they try to raise $50,000 in contingency to replace the equipment when it will likely die in eight to 10 years. 

"It's amazing. Four years ago we had zero trails in HRM. We would have to travel to New Brunswick or go to Martock, which we are thankful to have and it's great. But now we have four groomed sites," Caterini said.  

"It shows there's a huge spirit for winter activities in HRM."  

A snowmobile pulls the groomer, setting and making the trails. And a CBC cameraman hitches a ride! (Colleen Jones/CBC)

'It's great!'

I find Ola Legere on the just groomed trail at Brunello Estates. He's on snowshoes.

"Oh, I think it's great!" he told me while working up a little sweat. 

A groomed trail is packed and leveled and allows for perfect conditions. 

The volunteer groomers have poured hundreds of hours into creating cross-country trails in the Halifax area. This cross-country renaissance is a little like a mix between the plot of Field of Dreams and the idea, "If you build it, they will come." 

Now the volunteers hope more people will hit the trails and get some exercise and enjoy outdoor winter fun.

They'll be back at it when the snow returns, as most of it is supposed to melt away Tuesday and Wednesday.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

World champion curler Colleen Jones has been reporting with CBC News for nearly three decades. Follow her on Twitter @cbccolleenjones.

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