The Caledonia Nordic Ski Club last claimed the provincial club championship two decades ago. The club's members are anxious to reclaim the prize and they'll have the chance to do it this weekend at the Otway Nordic Centre.
On Saturday and Sunday, Otway will host the 2013 Teck B.C. cross-country skiing championships. Of the 307 skiers who have registered for the event, 73 are from the Caledonia club. Individually and collectively, they'll be trying to accumulate more points than anyone else. If they do, they'll bring the B.C. title back to Prince George for the first time since 1993.
"That would be fantastic," said Caledonia coach Andrew Casey. "We've got the largest club in the province, with over 1,800 members, and arguably some of the best snow and trail conditions around. We've got [members] throughout the whole spectrum, from young kids to older people, and winning that championship would reflect well on our club as a whole."
The Caledonia Nordics also blazed to B.C. club championships in 1989 and 1990.
Casey will be a busy guy this weekend because he'll be dividing his time between coaching and competing.
"I'm going to race as well because it will help the club get points," said the 26-year-old Casey, a Newfoundlander who accepted the Caledonia job last June. "Hopefully we'll be in hot pursuit for the overall provincial title."
No other club will have as many skiers at provincials. The next-closest in terms of numbers will be the Larch Hills Ski Club of Salmon Arm, which is bringing 48 athletes to Prince George.
On Saturday, competitors will do interval start classic technique races. On Sunday, racing will take the form of free technique relays. In each event, points will be awarded to the top five finishers -- five points for first place, down to one for a fifth-place result.
The championships are also significant for a couple other reasons. First, they will be used to finalize the 2013-14 B.C. Team Development Squad and second, they will serve as a test event for the 2015 Canada Winter Games, which will be held in Prince George.
Several Caledonia skiers are in the running for provincial team spots. They include Sage Bialuski and Erica Kreitz (juvenile girls), Kaia Andal (midget girls) and Will Andal (junior men). Points from this weekend will be added to the points skiers earned at two other B.C. Cup races earlier this season.
As for the Canada Winter Games element of the meet, new trails designed with the Games in mind will be in use. Sunday's free technique relays should be especially interesting because of the challenges that will be involved in navigating a four-kilometre section of new ground.
"It's a very technical course," said Caledonia's Cal Benson, the assistant chief of competition for the championships. "The downhills on the course, there are quite a lot of curves in them so it will make it pretty exciting for the skiers, particularly in fast conditions."
Trail construction was overseen by local resident Jim Burbee.
The provincial gathering will also be a tune-up for the many course officials who will fill the same roles during the 2015 Games.
Competition on Saturday will get underway at 11 a.m. On Sunday, racing will start at 10 a.m.
Other clubs that will be represented include ones from Smithers, Vanderhoof, Kamloops, Vernon, Revelstoke, Whistler and North Vancouver.