It’s every skier’s dream. Clear skies, Champagne powder, and a primed track—a feeling none too different from being welcomed onto a red carpet. Gliding from one foot to the next, a rhythm begins to emerge that makes you forget the foreign aches in your muscles and the awkward perspiration staining your brow as you conquer the next hill. Because just around the bend is one very rewarding view—the raw, uninterrupted beauty of the Monashee Mountains.
At SilverStar Mountain Resort, the third-largest ski area in B.C., sights like these are abundant throughout the trails. Graced with 105 kilometres of ski paths and an average snowfall of 700 centimetres per year—all just 30 minutes away from the quaint city of Vernon—it’s a perpetual winter paradise that invites exploration and physical activity. In collaboration with Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre, a neighbouring cross-country exclusive ski venue, the resorts make up the biggest network of groomed trail systems in all of Canada. Complete with a home base of practice hills and tracks that fan out from easy to difficult, some of B.C.’s best skiing is enjoyed here. But for those who are out of practice or are new to the sport, it can be difficult to find one’s glide, even in these pristine conditions. This is where XC Supercamp comes in.
Over the course of a three-day or a five-day program, XC Supercamp, which is hosted by SilverStar and Sovereign Lake, presents cross-country skiers with the complete Nordic experience. Assigned to a Canadian Association of Nordic Ski Instructors (CANSI)-certified coach, skiers of all skill levels are divided into small groups and guided through the breathtaking trails while learning to develop technique, endurance, and strength in either of the two disciplines of cross-country: classic or skate.
“Classic is the mother of cross-country,” says Guy Paulsen, destination sales manager at SilverStar Mountain Resort and the first Canadian to obtain top-level CANSI certification in all three ski disciplines (telemark, cross-country, and alpine). Best for those new to cross-country, the classic style follows a natural diagonal movement of the arms and legs where the skis are kept parallel to one another, similar to running. But for seasoned skiers who seek a challenge, skate boasts a freestyle movement with the skis pointed outwards, allowing for higher speeds and elevated heart levels. While the skate style is considered more of an aerobic workout, classic cross-country can be enjoyed at a leisurely pace with plenty of time to take in the sights and stop for a photo or two.
Ranging from half-day to full-day courses, these camps offer attractive extracurricular activities including a wine and yoga class, a guest seminar with a sports nutritionist, a ski waxing clinic, and a camp social that gathers participants from the entire program at the Red Antler, one of SilverStar’s cozy pubs nestled in the heart of the village. During a recent session, XC Supercamp welcomed 70 skiers from the likes of Washington State and even Australia.
“If I think about the essence about what this camp is about, it’s different reasons for different people,” says Paulsen. “Some people are here just for instruction, other people are here for fitness, some people are here for social—but I’ve got to say, the big thing is community.”
From the very first day, a kind of camaraderie is planted in each group, evident in the way fellow skiers and instructors encourage one another up intimidating hills and on the precipice of steep, winding turns. Paulsen has seen his fair share of lifelong friendships forged on these trails, filtered through the rare beauty all around, the shared sense of adventure, and the endorphins produced from exercise. There is a positive atmosphere here that contributes to the whole social experience, which can be hard to find in other outdoor activities. XC Supercamp takes the intimidation out of skiing so that participants can focus on the fun.
There’s more to beautiful British Columbia.